I have debated posting this for weeks, and I’m still not sure sharing this with the world is the right decision, but talking about it on an individual basis has been rough, and there are a number of people I still feel ought to know, so I’m just throwing it all out there into the universe. I’ve rewritten this half a dozen times, and in the end decided to be brief. After recent testing I learned that I’m a carrier for the BRCA2 mutation. If you’re unfamiliar with what this means there are a number of helpful links and resources in this post. The gist is that my risk for breast and ovarian cancer is much higher than that of the general population. My mother is a breast cancer survivor, who later underwent elective mastectomy and oophorectomy when she got her BRCA2 diagnosis about 15 years ago. Her mother was also a breast cancer survivor (twice, because our family has all the fun), and many other family members have had breast cancer.
While not every BRCA mutation carrier would choose to undergo surgery I decided many years ago that if I was a carrier I would do so. Nothing I have read or heard in the last 6 weeks of research has changed my mind. I will have a hysterectomy, and bilateral mastectomy with reconstruction in August and September. I don’t plan to share a ton of detail about the whys and wherefores of exactly what procedures I’ve chosen (though if you look up Angelina Jolie a very similar course was recommended to me, sadly it won’t come with her looks or money attached), but suffice it to say that I have researched options, spoken to a number of great doctors and am at peace with the decisions.
I hope to be away from work for no more than 8 weeks, and to do some “sitting friendly” work from home between surgeries. A wonderful staff member will take over my storytimes at the library, and I am very grateful to her, as well as to my wonderful director, who only said “tell us what you need.” This whole situation has put me in a weird place of both desperately wanting to share and talk about this, and not wanting anyone to know, or to tell anyone. Those who know me well will know that I’m extremely private, and modest, and I certainly had no intention to ever post a conversation on the internet with even this much discussion about my body. Oddly up to now my husband has actually told more people than I have, and if you know him you know he’s not a gregarious man. However, you also probably know that as a librarian I have researched the dickens out of this situation and could not pass up the opportunity to point you to the following resources if you, or someone you know, ever face this decision. Huge thanks to the handful in the know, who have offered us help. Accepting help is not something that is easy for me, but I’m going to try very hard to take you up
Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered
Does Breast or Ovarian Cancer Run in Your Family?
BRCA1 and BRCA2
Do you need genetic testing for breast cancer?
The Breast Reconstruction Guidebook by Kathy Steligo
Now What? A Patient's Guide to Recovery After Mastectomy by Amy Curran Baker