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

October is Australia’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month – a time to show support for women, men, and their families who are affected by breast cancer, as well as raise awareness to aid in the early detection and prevention of this disease.

Breast Cancer is the most common cancer in Australian women, with one in 9 Australian women diagnosed before the age of 85 (see more info & stats at www.nbf.org.au). It’s for this reason that ‘Pink Month’ is so crucial for fundraising efforts in driving ongoing research to understand this cancer better, and improve prevention and treatment options. And most importantly, to hopefully find a cure.

Last week we re blogged our dear friend Elise’ post on part 1 of her journey to prevent developing breast cancer. Elise’ original post was one of our most popular this year. It obviously resonated with many of you out there either going through something similar or know someone who is.

To coincide with Breast Cancer Awareness Month today Elise shares part 2 of her ongoing journey with the sorella-hood.

The White House goes pink for Breast Cancer Awareness Month (image http://www.whitehouse.gov)

The Next Step: Living with the BRACA1 Gene

Just over a year has passed since I had my bilateral mastectomy, and to be quite honest, until I started writing this I hadn’t realised it had been that long!

After my little stint in hospital with the infection that I shared with you in my last post, things pretty much went back to normal and my life has gone on. With 2 kids, hubby and our business, it’s been quite easy to let life take over and not think about things too much.

However, things aren’t quite over yet – I still have one major decision to face, and I still have to try and get used to my ‘new boobs’!

I had my implants put in a couple of months after my surgery, so while we have had a far bit of time getting to know each other, the truth is I don’t really love them as much as my olds ones! Although my old ones weren’t perfect, I suppose I was comfortable with them. These new ones are a little hard, I don’t have a lot of feeling in them, and with a few cosmetic issues it has been hard for me to completely accept them. I have tried not to think about it too much, but my it crosses my mind on and off – like when a friend asks how they are; when I get out of the shower; or when I try on clothes and do a quick check in the mirror to make sure you can’t see the fading scar. It’s these moments that it pops into my head how much I miss my old boobs.

Hopefully over time I will grow to love them more. My surgeon made me well aware of all these issues before I made the decision to go ahead with the surgery. And, at the end of the day, the most important thing is that I now have only a 5% chance of getting breast cancer which I am so grateful for – and this by far out-weighs my few little cosmetic issues.

So the next step in this journey is another really big one. I need to make an appointment with my gynecologist to discuss options around reducing my risk for ovarian cancer – and this is something that I am putting off. You see, the BRACA1 gene affects the breasts as well as ovaries, meaning I am also at an increased risk of developing ovarian cancer. I’m finding this pretty scary even though I get my regular pap smear and they haven’t detected any issues as yet.

But given my genetic pre-disposition my risk increases significantly, so the recommendation is that I have my ovaries removed for prevention.

I know! I know! Call me crazy for putting this off when my risk is so high – but the thought of going through menopause in my early 30’s as a result of the ovary removal just isn’t something that excites me, or my husband!

So I think step 1 will be the appointment to discuss the process, and I will go from there. Will keep you posted!

x elise

Thank you so much to Elise for sharing these personal details with us. Sending lots of love out to any person currently touched by breast cancer – especially those going through treatment, including preventative treatment. You are all very courageous and we wish you a successful and quick recovery.

Just a reminder that October 22 is Pink Ribbon Day.  Want to get involved by either donating or volunteering? Check out the Pink Ribbon Day website.

For more information on Breast Cancer, the BRACA 1 & 2 genes, and research efforts for prevention and a cure, go to the following websites: Breast Cancer Network Australia, National Breast Cancer Foundation, the Cancer Council.

~ alisha & anna

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