When I found out that I have a BRCA1 mutation and chose to have my ovaries and breasts removed to decrease my high risk of a future cancer diagnosis as much as possible, I had no idea that I would gain so much more than I was losing.
I lost some friends. Whether they didn’t understand or agree with my decision or they just didn’t know how to hang with me in the tough times, I was definitely surprised. I gained the assurance of who my real friends are and I made new friends, some whom I’ve never met, but they are truly the best. They “get” where I’ve been, they cheer my victories and understand my pains.
I lost my ability to have more children. I gained a deep appreciation for the time I have left with my four boys, while they are still young. I learned to cherish every milestone,to really listen when they talk, and make memories as often as we can. Knowing it will be the last first steps, first tooth, first vacation, first day of kindergarten, and so on has made me appreciate those special moments all the more.
I lost my old marriage. My Husband and I had been married for eleven years before I found out about my BRCA mutation. We had a good marriage, we were happy and we loved each other. I gained a new level of trust and intimacy with my Husband, that has strengthened our marriage more than I could have ever imagined. He never questioned my choices, even though we had no clue if or how it would effect our relationship. He was right by my side through every appointment, every surgery, every recovery. He cooked, cleaned, took care of our boys when I couldn’t, helped me get dressed when I couldn’t, cleaned my surgical drains, packed my wound, and made me laugh when I wanted to cry. I gained a stronger marriage.
I lost my fear. I was always very shy and afraid of what others may think of me.I gained trust in myself. I knew that I did the right research and that I was able to make tough decisions. I gained trust in God. I really learned how to pray and I honestly felt such peace and knew that I had made the best choices, the right choices. I gained trust in the most incredible surgeons, the best I could possibly hope for. I lost my original breasts, but they replaced them with breasts that so closely mimic the real thing in feel, shape and size that I never even felt the loss. They gave me confidence and hope. I gained an openness that I never had before. I am willing to share my story with anyone who wants to listen, because I want women to know that they don’t have to be terrified of a mastectomy and that what they lost, can be restored. I gained courage. I know if I can make it through these major surgeries, then I can make it through anything. I gained the opportunity to see that I am stronger than I imagined.
I lost my comfort zone. I am a stay at home Mom and when I was given the unexpected opportunity to work for the incredible surgeons of Midwest Breast as their patient liaison, I was shocked and also nervous. I know the level of skill and compassion they bring, so I didn’t want to disappoint. I gained a greater purpose. To be trusted by these surgeons, who I admire and respect so much, to mentor their patients is such an honor. It is incredible to be able to take the knowledge and experience I have gained and give back to others in the hopes it will make their journey a little less scary and overwhelming.
I gained my favorite quote: “Sometimes, what seems like a very negative or challenging event is what puts us in alignment with our greater purpose.” – Jenni Young