Eight years ago, I became a previvor. A Lot has changed since then. Each year I have crossed a new milestone in my life. I am proud to share some of these milestones with all of you, as a reminder that things change and get better. Right now as you read this you might be newly diagnosed and overwhelmed. A hereditary cancer diagnosis can feel like a bomb dropped on your life. There is no quick fix, this is a burden we ALL will carry for the rest of our lives. My vulnerability and openness have helped to raise awareness about genetic cancers, the importance of early detection, prevention, and proactive health management. I am proud of the difference I have made, and my journey to create BRCAStrong to help us all live life at our bravest.
It started off with a Genetic test eight years ago, inspired by my Nana and Poppi, who both fought cancer. This genetic test changed my life forever, marking the beginning of my journey as a previvor. Once I received my test results I had a powerful moment of realization about my increased risk and the path I would need to take moving forward. No one told me what my next steps should be, I realized then I had to be my own advocate. I am a fighter.I needed to be proactive about staying healthy. I connected with healthcare professionals to develop a comprehensive health management plan. This plan included regular screenings, lifestyle modifications, and other preventive measures screenings for the next decade.
In that decade I was open and honest about how I was feeling and to this day continue participating in awareness campaigns and speaking engagements discussing my BRCA journey and all that it entails. I knew if I spoke out about it would inspire others facing similar circumstances. I have worked to share the stories of BRCA sisters like you. I know that through this shared experience we can all find hope and comfort in each other and guidance to help make life-changing decisions so few understand unless they have lived experience. I have been able to make a positive impact on people’s lives and that is something I will always be proud of.
By sharing my milestones, I want to empower others who may are facing genetic risks of cancer and want to be proactive about their health. Speaking of being Proactive, I have also suffered from migraines since I was fourteen years old and realized it was time for a change. My BRCA journey taught me to be my own health advocate, so I began to address this new challenge head-on. Today marks my one-year anniversary of having brain Surgery for a Chiari Malformation. I have regained the ability to participate in activities I once enjoyed. Additionally, I am finally experiencing relief from debilitating symptoms such as migraines (that no medication could touch) and that has positively helped my emotional well-being.
I am so grateful for the support I have received from loved ones, healthcare workers, and our BRCAstrong community. I will continue to look for progress in research, treatment options, and support for survivors and those at increased risk, in the hope that none of us ever feel alone. Being my own advocate has saved my life more than once, I hope it reminds you to be empowered to do the same. There are many more milestones to come, follow along as I share my story.