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BRCA Survivor

Survivor Season 41

Typically, a person is referred to either as a “Breast cancer survivor” or “BRCA Previvor”. However, I am referring to the BRCA Survivor on TV right now.

Tiffany Reiss is a contestant on CBS’s latest season, #41, Survivor. 

She barely survived a recent tribal council after stalling her team from being able to win the challenge. In that moment when she was trying to use her arm strength to move herself across the log, I felt anxious with questions:

Did she lose arm strength from her bilateral mastectomy?

Did they remove lymph nodes?

I could feel her pain in a way, wanting to move, yet not having the strength to do so. My body feels that way all too often, in part to age, as well as less strengthening activities. I mean, I could see her mastectomy scars on her chest as she desperately tried to pull herself across that log in the water! 

While I may not love Tiffany’s game-playing strategies, I adore her courage to get on the show and try to win. She definitely hit it big already when she chose a prophylactic double mastectomy and tests ended up finding DCIS, a stage 0 form of breast cancer beforehand. Tiffany had witnessed her mother’s death from ovarian cancer and hoped to change her own outcome with surgeries.

It’s refreshing that BRCA women and their stories are being represented on TV, especially real people, like Tiffany. These are just a few of the fictional characters that I have viewed or heard about:

  • Dead to Me–Jen admits to her friend that her breasts are not her own, due to having BRCA1 genetic mutation and prophylactic bilateral mastectomy.
  • The Bold Type–Jane is a 20-something who lost her mother at a young age. During this show, she struggles with decisions after her positive BRCA genetic diagnosis, including fertility and egg freezing.
  • 90210 Reboot–18-year-old* Erin Silver was confronted with the choice to test for BRCA gene mutations after her mother died from breast cancer.

*Note: in real life, genetic counselors typically recommend waiting until 25 years old to test for BRCA.

Who has inspired you on your BRCA journey?

How do you bloom with BRCA?

photo credit: CBS Survivor