By: Tracy Milgram
Tracy Milgram-Posner founded BRCAStrong in 2015 after fighting alone for over 10 years against her BRCA2 genetic mutation. Tracy underwent two separate benign lumpectomies at 18- and 19-years-old before being officially told she carried the BRCA2 mutation in 2004 at 21 years old.
When her doctors informed her in 2015 that she had an 85% risk of developing breast cancer, and a 30% chance of developing ovarian cancer, Tracy underwent a robotic, total hysterectomy. Six months later, she had a prophylactic double mastectomy.
Tracy aims to inspire others by sharing her journey and encouraging others to do the same. “I think we all experience some level of self-doubt and physical insecurities after breast or reproductive surgery and/or treatment – regardless of BRCA involvement. In a way, BRCA2 took away my womanhood – and there are too many more women out there facing challenges similar to mine. But though similar, all our experiences are different, and I hope that BRCAStrong provides a safe space to share and inspire each other.”
As she dealt with the physical and emotional effects of these aggressive procedures, Tracy saw a need for an inclusive community that would allow her and others to connect, share tips and stories and offer advice on everything from post-surgery dating to clinical side effects and mental health.
Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
This journey hasn’t been an easy one, I have faced many struggles. My surgeries where at the age of 32 after having scans from the age 18 every 6 months or 3 months. 11 breast surgeries after making a decision to become a PREVIVOR wasn’t something I was expecting. It takes a lot from a human being losing body parts and feeling less than a woman is overwhelming. Being the founder of BRCASTRONG I have run into similar stories that I could relate to and I also found comfort that helps me heal emotionally from all I have endured. Feeling whole again It’s a process that takes time and support. Being an advocate has also helped me process and continue on this journey to encourage and empower others to fight the fight and never give up. Know your options and educate yourself because times have changed and so has technology.
Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?
After finding out I was BRCA2 positive in 2004 and seeing that there wasn’t much support for women like myself, I decided to be that voice. BRCAStrong was created by Tracy’s oldest child Gabby who related to her mom as a butterfly. BRCASTRONG started by a private group on Facebook and now is 3000 women strong. This group has helped support women with day to day battles they may face, educate, create events, a safe zone but most important is MORAL support. The stories you hear are incredible whether good or bad and these ladies are amazing. I want to say that empowering others is my specialty, hearing testimonies on positive outcomes brings happiness to me. Setting them on the right path brings joy to me and my FAMILY.
BRCASTRONG is known for funding, educating and advocating in our community. We make it known that making women feel whole again is our mission. I am proud of myself and my board for all of their hard work and dedication.
What sets us apart from everyone else is we are a sisterhood that no one wants to be a part of. We are a grassroots helping NOW.
How do you think about happiness?
Surround yourself with people you love. My better half, my mom, children and family and friends.
Writing – It gives me a chance to feel creative. I include this blog as part of the writing that makes me happy. The chance to put my thoughts and ideas into some written material leaves me feeling satisfied and very happy.
Singing loudly – I only do this in the car because I know I haven’t got the best voice but that doesn’t matter. When I am running errands or in the car I put on one of my favorite songs and then sing loudly all the way home.
Laughter – It’s the best medicine.