Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Vicki Singer Wolf and I am a four time breast cancer survivor and carrier of the BRCA2 genetic mutation,
Unfortunately I have a long history of cancers from my mother’s side of the family. My mother lost two brothers while in their 30’s to cancer and my mother’s sister- my Aunt Ruth was diagnosed with breast and additional cancers when she was in her 70’s in addition to other family members from the same side.
I had my first baseline mammogram at age 35 because of my aunt’s breast cancer diagnosis. In October of 1995 our mom while in her 70’s was diagnosed with breast cancer and one month later at 37 years of age when going for my mammogram, so was I. Over the next 8 years I received two more diagnoses of breast cancer and knew there had to be something out of my own control that was the cause. That’s when I first learned about genetic testing for the BRCA gene mutation.
In 2005 after my third diagnosis, I went through genetic testing and counseling and discovered I am a carrier of the BRCA2 gene mutation. At that time I had a complete hysterectomy for the prevention of Ovarian cancer which this mutation put me at a higher risk for also. In addition I received 6 ½ weeks of radiation and was on Tamoxifen for 5 years.
I shared my genetic findings with my family as it was important for my brother’s and my three sons since there is a 50/50 chance this mutation could be passed to them as well. I wanted them to learn about their risks so they could be better prepared and make informed decisions regarding their own health concerns into the future.
Unfortunately in 2008, my brother Harvey was also diagnosed with breast cancer (and then prostate cancer) and carries the BRCA2 genetic mutation. Together in 2009 we co-founded a nonprofit organization for Male Breast Cancer and Hereditary Cancers called HIS Breast Cancer Awareness.
I continued with breast surveillance every 6 months rotating with mammograms and MRI. In November of 2016 while receiving my annual breast MRI, I was once again diagnosed with Invasive Breast Cancer. All of my breast cancers have been in the same (right) breast but of different make up. Although they were all hormone positive, they were each a new cancer. I always knew if/when breast cancer returned I would have a double mastectomy which was completed in January 2017 along with latissimus flap reconstruction and chemotherapy.
I have always lived a healthier lifestyle to include diet, exercise and stress reducing methods. I truly believe that what we put on and in our body can make a difference. While my genetic mutation doesn’t allow my body to kill off cancer cells as easily, at least I can do my part in not creating the best environment for them! I continue to focus every day on making healthier choices through diet and lifestyle and continue to try to keep a glass half full attitude, living life to the fullest. My husband, children and now 6 grandchildren, my nonprofit organization and my full time work all give me purpose. We all have to find “our” purpose each day to get out of bed, keep living and surviving.
For me, I am very thankful, Modeh Ani.