I’m not loving being a woman today

Our dear friend Elise is this week’s guest blogger, and she has agreed to share a very personal story with you. Elise is 30 years old and recently underwent surgery for a double mastectomy.  Here, she explains why.

Breast Examination

Photo by Sean Locke

My mother’s side of the family has a little issue we have been dealing with for a while now. And, as expected, it is now directly affecting me.

The ‘family curse’ is the BRACA1 gene. Mutation of this gene along with its ‘friend’ the BRACA2 gene, are strong indicators for both breast & ovarian cancers. A test has now been developed for women to find out if they carry the genes, and therefore be able to make some decisions to minimise risk of developing these cancers in the future.

My great-grandmother, grandmother, and mum all developed breast cancer.  It was a big decision but given such a high level of risk, I decided to go ahead and take the gene test.

I wasn’t shocked by the news that I had it. I just had that feeling. A mother’s intuition. That inner voice that is so prominent and usually always right!

So I have the gene, what next?

I basically had 2 choices:

  1. Surveillance a few times a year (a bit scary, as this gene is very aggressive, plus  if you do test positive for the gene, you have an 85% chance of developing cancer). I couldn’t help but think – what if they miss something on the screens early enough, like what happened with mum? Was I willing to take this chance?
  2. Mastectomy – a single or double mastectomy

I’m sure you will agree these are not really the greatest of choices. So what did I do?

After much discussion with my mum and husband, I decided I was going to have to get rid of these lovely boobs. I will have to remove these lovely boobs that supported the early life of my two children. I have to say good-bye to these lovely boobs that could kill me. However, my children can’t afford not to have me here, so really, the choice was pretty easy to make. And in doing so, I reminded myself that I am also very lucky to have this option to make. How lucky that I can get a test and make an informed decision about what is best for me to do. This choice may not be right for everyone, but it was the right one for me.

2 months post-op and I was cruising along well given the restrictions that were placed on me for all those things you take for granted in everyday life – like washing your hair! I was adjusting to the change as best I could, and I was recovering quite well.

But a set back at the moment sees me back to my hospital room. Cellulitis has kicked in – so I am now in hospital with quite a bad infection.

It’s been five days now and the hardest part is really missing the kids, and missing my husband. Which unfortunately brings us back to why I’m not loving being a woman today.

You can read Part 2 of Elise’s story here

If you would like to find out more about gene testing, like what Elise chose to do, you can find more information from the Cancer Council, Breast Cancer Network Australia, Ovarian Cancer Australia, or speak with your GP.  

2 thoughts on “I’m not loving being a woman today

  1. Pingback: 5 reasons to get a boob job | the sorella-hood

  2. Pingback: The journey continues for a courageous friend of the sorella-hood: Living with the BRACA1 Gene (Part 2) | the sorella-hood

Share your thoughts!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s