Hi everyone! My name is Bria and I (infrequently and informally) blog over at Wiggle Life. I am a mom to the greatest most gorgeous baby girl alive, Adelynn and a wife to my handsome husband, Jim.
Stephanie asked me to be a guest blogger and share about my experience with BRCA testing. This is the first time I have shared my story with an extended audience and I am excited- thanks Stephanie!
My mom passed away from breast cancer at 39, I was eight years old. She was initially diagnosed at 32 with stage 3 or 4 when I was just a year old. This is the clinician report that I am constantly giving my "team" of doctors and specialists. At 26, I get regular MRI's, I see a breast specialist in addition to my obgyn and in general take a lot of extra precautions. I say this only to give you my background and what my history looks like. I firmly believe in the benefits of genetic testing but everyones history and background is different and it definitely plays a role when you are looking at genetics.
My experience with BRCA testing was a kinda fly by the seat of your pants one. My obgyn had found a lump in my left breast and referred me to a breast specialist. After a needle biopsy was inconclusive, she recommended that I have it removed because of my moms history. There was a lot of fear surrounding this for me and I could not help but imagine the worst. In my mind, I felt destined to get cancer and was just waiting for it to happen. Thankfully it was just necrotic tissue and I have been healthy since. At that time, the BRCA testing starting to gain notoriety and with my history in mind, my breast specialist recommended I take the test. My general theory is knowledge is power so I did a quick oral test and sent the sample away. My test came back negative and I generally put it out of my mind. I did not seek genetic counseling or really look into my results since they were negative.
However, this past summer, my breast surgeon recommended I see a genetic counselor and explore more genetic testing. They had discovered a new gene mutation of BRCA since my original testing that she wanted me to look into. These people were so helpful in helping me understand what information I was getting by testing and breaking it down for both my husband and I. Jim is so understanding and such a positive force but he has expressed that one of his greatest fears is that cancer will play a role in my future. Since he can't make it to every Doctor's appointment and definitely was not there when my mom was ill, it was so nice to have someone explain to both of us at the same time what the percentages of getting breast cancer were and what my family history could mean for us We walked out of that appointment on the same page about my health for probably the first time ever. This established such a positive foundation for us to discuss future testing and future precautions like a double mastectomy.
Although my fears are still a daily struggle, I have been able to work through many issues and no longer feel "destined" to get cancer. Finding out my genetic results was a big part of putting some of these issues to rest. Of course I do not know what my health will look like in the future, but finding out information about my health as it becomes available will play the biggest role in any decisions made.
I still get nervous before every MRI and every check up- I am not sure that the fear will ever truly go away but working through that fear to make educated and conscientious decisions about my health is my goal every time. If any of you have decisions about BRCA testing or breast cancer please feel free to contact me at mailto:email@example.com">firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks so much for the opportunity to share and thanks again Stephanie!!