Cancer is in my genes – literally and figuratively. When I was in college both my paternal aunt and my paternal grandmother passed away – 3 years apart, both in February, they both had breast cancer, as well as other health complications. My paternal cousin also had breast cancer in her early 30s. I KNEW that I was at a high risk. When Angelina Jolie had her prophylactic mastectomy, that made so much sense to me, but I also knew I needed to be in the right place for it. I decided to get genetically tested and wasn’t shocked when it returned positive for BRCA2. I immediately made an appointment with my doctor, and she confirmed my “diagnosis” and I started my mammograms and MRIs. For a while, that was enough. I wasn’t in a place – mentally, emotionally, physically, OR financially to think about a mastectomy.

During 2020 my husband was in a women’s health class for nursing school, and he came into the living room and said, “I get it. I get why you want the mastectomy, and I am now able to support you 100%.” I didn’t know that was the push I needed. In the summer of 2022, my breast doctor asked if I had considered an oophorectomy – which I hadn’t. So, we scheduled that and on October 5, 2022 (Yom Kippur) I had an oophorectomy. That began my journey into over, sharing about my health and advocating for more education and conversation around women’s health. It also sped up my timing for my mastectomy as estrogen can lead to higher risks of breast cancer. I will never forget the last mammogram I went to before my mastectomy in which my mammogram tech said to me “Wow, you have all three risk factors for breast cancer. I’ve never seen anyone whose chances were this high! “And that’s exactly what it was. I had an almost 80% chance.

After countless hours of research and phone calls with other people who had done similar surgeries, I decided on a DIEP flap reconstruction. On Jul 26, 2023, I had my PDMX at MUSC. On August 14, I had DIEP.

And since? I haven’t stopped talking about it. What I did, why I did, I have been encouraging everyone I know to get genetically tested. I have been talking to anyone who listens about the good, bad, and ugly. And I am learning to love this new body.

Not everyone understood and supported my decision. But I found the people who did. Who were there for me. Who love me and check on me. And 6 months later I can confidently say it was both the easiest AND hardest decision I have ever made and one that I am grateful each day I got to make on my terms.

Video I made for JScreen 

Support networks I used: BRCA Strong, Sharsheret, NothingPink, Pockets of Hope