BRCA Positive

It’s hard for me NOT to talk about what is going on with Angelina Jolie and how it affects me personally.

I am also BRCA positive.

Scary? Yes. Very. I am 87% likely to get breast cancer. EIGHTY SEVEN PERCENT. And 50% likely to get ovarian cancer. TERRIFYING to say the least.

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I had the blood test done when I was 21. The reason I decided to do it was because my biological mother had breast cancer, she did survive, but does have constant scares with new lumps or tumors. Her mother also had breast cancer, but did NOT survive. She passed away pretty young, I believe she was in her 50’s. I did not know her, but I did find out she passed away from it.

The blood test does not give you the results right away, it takes about two weeks, from what I can remember.

Craig and I were dating at the time, and I remember the day I got the results. I was standing in the kitchen, and Craig had JUST walked into the house for lunch. (He comes home for lunch) The office called, and I immediately picked the phone up, and my doctor started out by saying, ‘Holly, your results are in, and it came back positive. You are BRCA1 positive. I am so sorry.’

I just looked up at Craig, and couldn’t help but start crying. My doctor was still on the phone and was very sweet, she kept telling me everything was ok and told me I could go in to see her for counseling if I wanted. I thanked her, hung up and just cried. I was SO thankful Craig was there (how random is it that my doctor called me RIGHT when he got home? I’d say some divine intervention happened, for sure), he just held me and said everything would in fact be ok.

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Seriously one of the reasons I married him. He is SO STRONG and SO SUPPORTIVE in EVERYTHING. He comforts me in times of need and really does put my mind at ease.

Honestly the FIRST thing I thought of was my children. Of course I didn’t have children at the time, it was before we were married…it was actually not too long after we had started dating. (Poor guy has to deal with someone with Crohn’s disease AND BRCA 1+…at least he knew what he was getting himself into before he asked me to marry him. 😉 )

I IMMEDIATELY thought ‘Oh my gosh, what if I pass this gene to my future children?!’ Craig then reminded me that obviously I have no choice as to what genes would be passed to children, which I knew, but it still made me sad.

But NOW it is a whole new story. I DO have a child.

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A beautiful baby girl that I’m HEAD OVER HEELS in love with.

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Before I had Gabriella, and shortly after finding out that I was BRCA positive, I decided that I DID want to have the preventative mastectomy. I also want my ovaries out.

Once I decided this, I had another choice to make: Have the surgery NOW or wait until after I have children? I always wanted children, and I had a feeling that Craig was THE ONE (even though it was only a few months into our relationship), but I had no idea when I actually would have kids.

I decided to schedule a few appointments with various surgeons around town to discuss the preventative mastectomy. I knew I had a LOT to think about & consider. I explained my situation to the surgeons I met with, listened to their advice and opinions and ultimately made my decision.

For ME, the best decision was the wait until after having children. The main reason was that I wanted to be able to breast feed, and the surgeons told me that I was still pretty young to have the surgery. Of course breast cancer doesn’t wait to affect someone until a certain age, but with LOTS of monitoring & frequent mammograms and annual MRI’s, any suspicious tumors or cells would hopefully be caught quickly.

Pink Breast Cancer Ribbon

My plan is still DEFINITELY to get the preventative mastectomy & my ovaries removed once we have baby #2. Of course both of these are MAJOR surgeries, and they will be life changing…I will probably have to be on certain hormones for the rest of my life. But you know what?

If doing these surgeries means that I will get to see my baby girl (&baby #2) grow up and have children of their own…and maybe those children have children means EVERYTHING to me. EVERYTHING.

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ANYTHING for them is WORTH EVERY ounce of pain.

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My future is with my husband and my children. And that is one future I WILL NOT MISS out on.

One other thing I want to add is that I have heard of some women actually NOT getting the test done because they are scared of the possible outcome of being BRCA positive. I understand it is scary. I GET IT. But having this test could save your life. Please don’t be scared of it, it is MUCH better to be aware of it rather than just trying to block it out of your mind. It’s not like it will just ‘go away’ if you don’t think about it.

Here are some links that have more information about BRCA testing & about the gene mutation in case you are interested:

http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/Risk/BRCA
http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/brca-gene-test/MY00322
http://www.cnn.com/2013/05/15/health/brca-expert-qa/?hpt=hp_bn13 (<—7 questions answered about the gene and testing)

***Head’s up: BRCA testing is EXPENSIVE. BUT the good news is that if you can provide proof of someone related to you (usually close family member- mother/ father/ sister/ grandmother/ aunt) having breast cancer, insurance companies will typically cover the cost. Of course you should contact your insurance company regarding what they will cover. My insurance did cover the WHOLE test, since I could prove that my biological mother & maternal grandmother had the disease. I also found out that they will cover MOST of my surgeries as well, since it IS preventative.***

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19 thoughts on “BRCA Positive

  1. Thanks so much for this post, Holly! I’m curious, when you say ‘expensive,’ exactly how expensive? Is there a way to find out the exact cost somewhere? Both of my grandmothers have had breast cancer and getting this test done is something I’ve always considered.

  2. So sorry to hear about your condition but so glad to see you are on top of it. It’s scary that perfectly healthy people can have such illnesses. Thanks for all the links!
    emma @ amomrunsthistown.com

  3. I am so sorry to hear that you have to make such a big decision like this one, but I think it’s great that you are educating yourself and taking preventative measures. I was watching a talk show, and they were talking about this topic, saying how amazing it is that so many women living very long lives because of modern medicine — by the time Gabriella is in her 20s, 30s and 40s, who knows what they’ll be able to do!

  4. I am so sorry you have to deal with these decisions. It’s great for you to take good care of yourself for the life of your children. I definitely would have waited until after having children to have the surgery, too. I agree with your decision all the way to put off the surgery until you have a second child. It must be so scary to go into every mammogram appointment. UGH. I can’t even imagine. You’re such a strong girl for dealing with this in a positive light and I’m glad you took the tests earlier to get a diagnosis!

  5. Whew… heavy post! But so awesome that people like you are willing to share your stories — I think it’s important people are more aware and comfortable with these big life-changing issues, so it’s great that you are so strong and positive about it! I know I would definitely 100% do the same if I were you.

    • Haha! I know, right? Totally did NOT plan on writing this…just kind of flowed. 🙂 OH, and I meant to tell you I did NOT make those scones in the pictures from Mother’s day, but I DO want to make YOUR scones with the browned bananas!

  6. i’m not sure if you have any information or knowledge about this but my mother also had breast cancer. Thankfully she caught it early on and today is doing perfect. I’ve spoken to my doctor about her cancer and he said that i shouldn’t be at risk bc of the age of when my mother had breast cancer. something about bc it was during her pre menapausal years? He basically didn’t seem to worried about it and said i was not any more at risk than anyone else and would not have to do my mamograms any earlier. not sure if i should trust that or get a second opinion? he also mentioned the whole skipping generation thing but said that isn’t ALWAYS true.

    • GET A SECOND OPINION. Please 🙂 Yes, pre menopausal years do show an increase for getting breast cancer, but I have heard stories of women in their EARLY 20’s getting it. Have you gotten the BRCA test? Your insurance should definitely cover it because your mom had it- SO SO SO glad she beat it!!

  7. not sure if you have any info or knowledge about this but my mother had breast cancer when i was like 18-19yrs old (i’m 32 now). my doctor said that bc of the age when my mother had her cancer…like pre-menopausal yrs or something…that i wasn’t at any higher risk than normal. that i would just do my mamograms at the regular age and that cancer generally skips generations although that is not ALWAYS true. i’ve always trusted my dr but after this whole angelina thing i’m starting to wonder if what he says is true or if i should get a 2nd opinion?

  8. Thank you for writing this and your experience with the test. Breast cancer runs in my family as well, both my mother and my paternal grandmother had it. Thankfully, my mother is cancer free today, but I know that there is definitely a chance I may have the gene.

    I’m going to get the test one day, but as I’m nearing 30, I’m wondering if sooner is better than later. Good to know about the insurance as well – I was wondering about that!

    I admire the decision that you’ve made, and I’m sure your child and husband do as well 🙂

  9. I cannot physically imagine having to go through that. You are awesome and continuously impress me Hollie whether it’s from this, your child or even Crohns. You are truly a remarkable woman and a role model.

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  11. Dear Holly thanks for raising awareness with your posting BRCA awareness lies close to my heart after loosing my sissi at age 41 ..I had all the preventative surgeries done after testing positive for BRCA 2. 2 years ago while my sissi who also test positive chose not to have hers in May 2013 while awaiting her surgery she was diagnose with breast cancer that spread to main organs and on 23 June 2013 she lost the fight against cancer …only a month after her diagnosis she died that’s why I want to urge people with a family history to get tested and if they test positive think about. the preventative surgeries so that not another child loose her mom at 13 like my sister’s daughter did …and my mom loosing her daughter after surviving breastcancer.

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