There’s life before a BRCA diagnosis/mastectomy surgery, and life after.
This delineation of time feels similar to the emergence into motherhood–no matter how challenging life has become, there is no going back to PK, or pre-kid, times. Similarly, my physical and emotional body have been altered with BRCA prophylactic surgeries and there’s no turning back. It’s like I have periods of time like the dinosaurs: my pre-existence and post-existence.
That word pre-existence has grown into a hot button political issue lately. Oddly enough, it’s because of “pre-existing conditions” that my sister and I rejected getting genetically tested in the summer of 2002, waiting 12 extra years.
My family is no stranger to breast cancer, growing up with a grandmother who had been breast-less (with chest muscles, lymph nodes and all removed) for my entire life. Her breast cancers came at age 34 and then again at age 40; she had three young children. Her sister had her breast cancers at ages 44 and 65. Thus, for my mom to develop her first breast cancer at an older age of 57, we felt a bit blessed–anyone who grows up in a cancer-filled family like mine, fully understands that comment!
My mother’s oncologist repeatedly tried to have my mom convince my sister and me to undergo genetic testing while we were in our late 20s. We said, “No way! Not while we can be denied health insurance!” Luckily, by the time we chose to find out about our BRCA genetic risk, Obamacare had eliminated the pre-existing condition risk; we were told that we would only have problems obtaining life insurance. Unfortunately, with a change in presidents, I hear reports about pre-existing conditions being back on the table; however, because I know that keeping my level of worry in check is actually one of the best ways to stay healthy, I am not going to worry about something that may not happen. Ironically, that’s not how I responded to my BRCA genetic diagnosis, yet I am learning to embrace that kind of trust in the process of life.
I’ve had a lot of worries in my life,
Most of which never happened.
What is your pre & post challenge in life?