Friday, April 30, 2010


The most basic human instinct is the desire to live. Our bodies are constantly trying to maintain homeostasis, (balance, for all of those of you who haven't the slightest idea what I'm talking about), and our autonomic nervous systems know when and how to "turn on" when needed, in order to save our organs and our bodies...Our lives...

Okay, so now that you got a quick refresher course in biology, I can move on....I say the most basic instint for a human being is to live. And in my opinion, that is what I am doing, with having this surgery. I want to live. Now that's not to say that after my surgery, I won't get hit by a car, a plane won't crash into my house, or a giant King Kong won't smash through my door and I will die-I can't possibly prevent those things. But getting cancer, BREAST cancer,  that I can prevent. I can cut my risk by 90% by having my boobs taken off. I want to live. It's funny, because after my mom died, when I was 14, the years that came after that, I wanted nothing more than to die. Literally..And I even came pretty close a couple of times. So to hear myself say that I want to LIVE, and want nothing more than to LIVE, shows how much I have grown. Not only as a person, but I guess spiritually, mentally, emotionally, etc, etc, etc....

I would like to say that I am doing this for myself..But how can anyone having a PBM really do such an extreme thing, solely for themselves?   We all have alterior motives. We want to be alive to see our children, or even future children, grow up. We want to grow old with our husbands, or future husbands..We want to be able to hold our grandchildren someday, and maybe even our great-grandchildren!  We don't want our children to have to see their mommy go through intensive chemotherapy sessions, and numerous doctor's appointments, and have to become familiar with the term "Cancer". No child should have to. We don't want to die. We want to live. So that's why I say that, in my opinion, we don't go to this extreme measure of having our breasts removed to be dramatic, or as some say, to "get attention", or whatever. I am getting my breasts removed to be able to live a long life with my family. I am also doing this to honor my mom and her fight with breast cancer.  After seeing what she went through, there's no way I want to go through that. I don't think I could be as strong as she was. It scares me. She is a true survivor in my eyes, even though she is gone, because she lived life without complaining, and she had that drive to live..More than anyone I know.

Tonight, my town is having "Relay for Life", and I will be walking in honor of my mom. I will be walking in her memory and in honor of her drive to live. Even though she is not living here on earth anymore, she is living strong in me and in my decisions to have this surgery. I fully believe that she has been with me every step of the way throughout this whole ordeal, and with knowing that, I'm ready...I'm ready to live.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

First impressions on Second opinions??

I just got of the phone a while ago, setting up my pre-op appointments with my general surgeon and my plastic surgeon for my PBM.  For some reason, my general surgeon, who specializes in breast surgery by the way, all of a sudden wants me to get a second opinion for ovarian cancer...WTF?

While I had my consultation with her a few weeks back, I  clearly explained to her that one month after testing positive for the BRCA2 gene, in addition to having a breast MRI, I went to a gynecologist/Oncologist to have my ovaries screened for cancer as well. The oncologist did an ultrasound on my ovaries and did not find one cyst, fibroid, lump on either ovary...I also had a CA-125 blood test done, which is a simple blood test that tests for ovarian cancer. My level was 24, which is within normal range. Anything below 35 is normal. The gyno/oncologist wants me to come back every 6 months to have these same procedures done, to screen my ovaries...I have an appointment in June, in fact, to get them screened again. So why does she want me to get a second opinion?

I also explained to her that, in my own PERSONAL opinion, had my mom died of ovarian cancer, and if my family had a history of OVARIAN CANCER, instead of breast cancer, then I would be electing to have an oophorectomy before having a mastectomy..But that's not how things went down. My mom died of breast cancer. Breast cancer runs in my family. Even though I know that being positive for this BRCA mutation means that I have an increased risk of getting ovarian cancer also, right now, the most important thing to me and my family, is to remove my breasts. Later on in life, when the time comes, the ovaries will come out. And if something ever is found on them, OF COURSE, I will remove them. (Not myself, but through surgery. Duh)

Another issue is that I am only 26. Yes, I already have 2 beautiful, healthy, amazing children, and NO, I don't want anymore, but that doesn't mean that I have to remove my ovaries. I don't want to and I don't want to go through menopause at 26 fucking years old. I'm sorry. So I don't agree with the fact that I need to get a second opinion for "screening my ovaries"....What the hell?

Some people probably disagree with me because of this-I am going to the most extreme measure to lower my risk of getting breast cancer. I am removing my breasts.  Yes, I realize this. I am not stupid. No stupid person could make a decision like this. But not everyone with BRCA mutations goes to this extreme. Some opt for screening measures...That's awesome!  Some decide to do chemo-prevention measures. That's awesome. Whatever you want to do, and whatever you feel is right for you, then that is what IS right. So as far as my boobs go, Good-bye! They are gone...In two and a half months the boobs that I have lived with for 26 years will no longer be with me. As far as my ovaries go-I'm going for the screening measures. And that's what I feel is right for me.

Don't get me wrong. I absolutely love my surgeon that will be doing the mastectomy...(Ha. How could anyone say they "love" someone who will be taking off my womanly body parts? What the hell am I thinking?)  She is caring, she is knowledgeable, she is competent, and she is just plain awesome. But then I get this call, and it completely threw me for a loop..I don't know why I am so frustrated about it..Maybe it's because I felt like everything was finally set and organized for this all to be done, and now this shit happens....I don't know. Maybe it's just all of the elements of this week working against me...Yea, that's it. Gah. What else?

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Can I please have another happy pill?

Holy crap.....This week has been awful. In fact, I just took an extra dose of my "happy pill" a while ago, in hopes that I can get through the rest of the day, without breaking down and falling apart.

 FYI-Yes, I take anti-depressants, and I have for years...I was quite messed up after my mom died and ever since then, have pretty much had to rely on "happy pills", aka-antidepressants, to balance my rollercoaster emotions out.....(Don't think I am a druggie....I only take Effexor XR 37.5 mg once a day...That's it...It's the magic pill that makes Angela not lose her mind...Just ask my husband!) But anyways...

One of my favorite patients from work died unexpectedly and it has really messed me up this week. Then, I am starting to stress over the fact that I will soon be working fulltime, which is good, but it entails a lot of changes, and I will be working on-call on my little girl's birthday weekend (BLAH!), and then we are moving which is just stressful...Packing a house that we have been in for almost 5 years is not fun......So that has me freaking...(I am a neat freak and can't stand to have things out of place, boxes all over, etc.) And then on top of all of that, my dad is having some health issues that REALLY has me freaking and worried sick....AND, (yea, there's more), I got the call today for the date of my PBM surgery...It will be July 13th. So even though I am glad that it's finally planned,  just the fact that it is makes it all the more real, ya know? So yea....That's all my bitching and venting...Well, for now....

I guess what all of this really is dealing with is change....I don't deal with change well...I don't like to be the one without control....But I have to remind myself in the case of my surgery, that I AM the one in control...I am the one saying, "OFF WITH THE BOOBS!" instead of potentially one day having to hear, "You have cancer, Angela...You have to have your breast(s) removed."  Cancer won't control me. I control it. Even before it has a chance to take over my body one day in the future, I am taking control to possibly eliminate the chance that I will get it.

And while I'm on the subject, Fuck you, Cancer. I hate you. Fuck you for taking my mom. Fuck you for taking good people away from their children, their spouses, their families and friends. Fuck you for ruining people's lives. Fuck you, cancer, for existing. Fuck you, Cancer! I won't let you into my children's lives, my life! Fuck you cancer! I hate that I need to remove my breasts, just so I won't have to deal with you, mother fucker. But like I've said, if this is what I need to do to live a good, long life without fear of "when will I get breast cancer", then so be it. Fuck you cancer. You're not gonna fuck with me.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


Tonight, I am not going to blog. Actually, I am going to post a link to the story of my mom's last few days here on earth, and her promise that she made to my brothers and me. My dad wrote this a couple of years back, and this story has been read by literally MILLIONS of people around the world. This is a true story and I want to share it on my blog. Here it is- Just click on the link and it will take you to my dad's story.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Mounds of Happiness

Don't you just love my beautiful new shirt? Do you think it'll start a new trend? It opens up in the front, is botton-less, zipper-less, and is disposable, so that you don't ever have to wash it.....Ha! Just kidding...I'm not trying to start a new trend or anything like that, this was me at my consultation visit with my plastic surgeon...I was about to show her my beautiful boobies, so that she can get a feel, (no pun intended :)  of what type of reconstruction I want, and that she thinks is appropriate for me......

Before all of this BRCA positive junk, I always said that I was going to get my "boobs done" one day...I just never thought I would have to have them taken off first, in order for them to get "done". I always imagined sitting in the plastic surgeon's office, discussing saline vs. silicone, which size cup I wanted, etc...(Come on, I'm sure every woman with boobs has thought of this...Especially if you've had kids!) .Instead, I am sitting in the plastic surgeon's office, and while we DID discuss those things, we also discussed how my expander implants will have to filled every 2 weeks, and how my boobs, (well she kept calling them "mounds", which I don't like) will be nipple-less for a while, and how after she does the second surgery to put the more permanent implants in, then she will wait 2 months to do yet ANOTHER surgery to make a nipple on each "mound". And then how I will have to find "someone" to tattoo areoleas on my boobs because she doesn't have the equipment to do that.....(And of course in my mind, I envisioned myself having to go to some thug tattoo/piercing shop, going in saying, "Uh, can ya'll tattoo areolas on boobs?")  So while it is like getting a boob-job, it's quite different......But oh well...This is my choice, and I want my scary boobs off..

The PS (plastic surgeon) was totally supportive in my decision to have this surgery and feels that having the immediate reconstruction  with skin sparing mastectomies, with tissue expander implants will be best for me..I've already done all my homework, read books and stuff, and going in to the visit, I already knew that this was what I wanted...She said that I didn't have enough abdominal fat/tissue to do a DIEP or TRAM reconstruction..BUT she did keep remarking on how "saggy" my breasts were....I guess plastic surgeons don't really have a filter when it comes to remarking on how bad your boobs look or whatever pre-surgery...Maybe it's a psychological trick they use, so that you will love your new boobs.....Hell, I will love my new boobs, (mounds...Haha), no matter what because I will have a decreased chance of getting breast cancer with them! HELL YEA!

So all in all, I really liked the doctor that I saw this past week. She was smart, she was cool, despite some weird remarks about my boobs, she was young, and she is experienced in this surgery....She showed me pictures of  past patients of hers with PBM with immediate reconstruction and I was impressed....So things are coming along.....Now we are just waiting on a date and that will be that....I am planning on June because we just bought a house and I want to move before having the surgery and stuff....Day by day by day by day...........

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Take a number!

My surgery is going to be approved my our insurance!!! WHOOHOO!!! We got the paper in the mail yesterday, and in a weird way, it felt like an acceptance letter into a college or something..So now, the reality of  my boobs coming off, is starting to really sink in....But I must remain positive....This is good....( I keep telling myself this, over and over again.) But I am human, and despite my cheerful, positive attitude about all of this, doubts and fear do occasionally creep up on me and scare the living shit out of me...But I keep telling myself, "This is good." 

I am one of those people who has to write things down in order to believe it...I have to see things in writing before I believe it, understand it, fully accept it......I'm a "reader-writer" I guess....Which is probably why I blog...I've blogged for years.....About my kids, about my marriage, about stupid, funny shit like "shark week" (aka menstruation), and stuff people loved to read about (for some reason)...But I have to write stuff down in order to believe it....(Or in this instance, type it.)

So I guess what I'm trying to say is that it's scary...It's normal to be scared...I'm scared. What normal human being wouldn't be scared to have their boobs removed?? (And yea, I know I am the one who is pushing for this surgery, but I am doing this do have a long, good life with my kids, my family, in hopes to decrease that 87% that I am going to get breast cancer before I'm 50.....Which, BTW is in only 24 years...BRCA positive people are also at higher risk for getting early onset cancer...(Remember my mom was only 32 when she found out she had cancer....) So once again, in my mind, there is no other option. 

 On Thursday, we are going up to Albuquerque to have a consultation with a plastic surgeon, who will be doing the reconstruction of the boobies during the same operation as the mastectomies....So once again, I will have to bare my chest for another stranger to poke and praud at, and pull and squeeze at......Oh the joys! I should feel flattered that so many people want to feel me up, squeeze my boobs, observe my chest.......(SARCASM NOTED!) At first, having to show my boobs to a doctor was kind of awkward......(But hey, I've had 2 kids, and I've shown A LOT more than just my boobs to the doctors!)  But now, I think I have had 7 different doctors examine my boobs, breast, knockers, funbags, titties, bossoms, etc., ALL within the past 6 months.......And I don't care anymore.....Take a number! Who's next!?

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Dreaming of Acceptance

My little brother called me today to tell me about a dream he had a couple of days ago about our mom. It got me thinking about some things.....

First of all, my mom died in 1997 from breast cancer. She was 40 years young. (I was 14 years old, my older brother was 17, and my younger brother was 8 years old.)  We were all young, and it took us a long time to accept that our mom was really gone for a while. It took me the longest. The denial/anger manifested itself into me having dreams about being forced to watch my mom being embalmed at the funeral home and stuff like that. That is really disturbing stuff for a 14 year old to have to dream about and experience, especially after having to try and deal *externally* with just losing a mother.

On the other hand, my mom had accepted that she was dying in the weeks before her death, and was at peace with it. How is it that the one that has all the odds against them, is the one with the greatest faith and acceptance? She was visited by angels, just as many dying people are in their last days, and was completely at peace with the fact that she was going to die. But for those of us left here on earth, we were angry, in denial, we couldn't accept it. I guess that's why acceptance comes later in the journey of life...It's also one of the hardest things to do.....

So anyways..Back to my little brother's dream. He told me that in his dream, my dad, my brothers and I were all at our old house together. My dad no longer lives in this house presently, but this was the house where we grew up in with my mom, and the house where my mom passed away in.  He said in the dream, all of a sudden there was a knock on the door. It was my mom. We were all so happy to see her-no awkwardness from not seeing her these past 12 years, no sadness-just joy. We were hugging her and smiling, and then my mom kept saying, "I'm so sorry I've been away for so long.". My brother said throughout the dream, my mom kept saying this over and over and over again. And then at the end of the dream, she gave us all a hug, and then said, " I'm so sorry, but I have to leave again, " and then she was gone, and the dream was over.

Now I don't know about your opinions on stuff like this, but I FULLY believe that dreams like this are visitations from our loved ones that have passed on. But was this dream some sort of acceptance about my mom's death on my brother's behalf? I mean he was only 8 when my mom died. He doesn't really remember my mom like my older brother and I do...Basically, my mom was sick with cancer his whole life..What he does remember of her aren't memories like what my older brother and I have of my mom..Has his subconscious accepted her death? Has he really accepted that she is gone? Was this dream an acceptance dream?

So what I'm trying to say is that acceptance is something that can take years to gain....Accepting a mother's death when you're 14 is not going to be easy. It took me 7 years. Accepting that you are dying from cancer is not going to happen without a war, which it got from my mom. And that war lasted for 8 years-which is 8 years longer than what the doctors told her she was going to live. Accepting that your mom is gone, but you don't really remember much about her because you were so young when she passed away can be confusing...It can take years for the mind to fully grasp it...

 And then there's accepting that you are BRCA+.... It  is not going to happen overnight. It's not going to happen in a matter of weeks..I have just barely begun to accept it, and I found out in December. I think it's like going through the 5 stages of dying.....
1-Denial (As in "This can't be happening to me.....)
2-Anger  (As in "I hate life...Why did God to this to me?)
3-Bargaining (As in "I'll go to church more, in hopes that maybe I won't get cancer or die early)
4-Depression-(As in "Whoa...This is really effing happening to me and it really effing sucks ass.)
5-Acceptance. (As in "The golden ticket"- COMING TO TERMS WITH REALITY)

Allow yourself to go through these stages. I did. It's normal. It's healthy..Acceptance does come. Talk to others who know what you are going through. Talk to anyone who will genuinely listen and care. There are still people out there like that!!

"Understanding is the first step to acceptance and only with acceptance can there be understanding"

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

My Humps

So I know that it is within the next few months that my boobs will be chopped off, and I guess I am trying to emotionally prepare myself for it, and it seems like everything I see lately is freaking BOOB related. I can't stray away from boobage. (Much like garbage, but boobage...Get it?)  And when I say my boobs are getting "chopped off", I don't mean to be so morbid, but I am a very light hearted person, and like to use humor to get through things, so don't think I think that is what is going to happen to me......

Plus, I am a registered nurse, and I know that my boobs will not just be "chopped off". In other words, I'm not stupid, naive, so don't send me messages saying that I am not educated, etc...  :)  .Anyways...They will be sliced into, and whether or not I decide to have the skin sparing mastectomy, which right now I HOPE I can have, the doctors will pretty much scrape all of the tissue from inside my my boobs out...Think of it like Halloween time..(And I guess for me, the pain medication could be considered the candy)....Anyways.....You buy a pumpkin...You cut the stem off...(For that mastectomy, this will be my nipple, areola.) Then, you scrape out all of the seeds and crap out of the pumpkin.....The doctors will pretty much do the same to the boob-scrape the inside of the "boob", and get all of the breast tissue out that they can....Of course, they will take the tissue samples and do pathology reports during the surgery to see if there were any cancer cells or cell dysplasia (changes).......Then, they will put in  temporary "expander" implants  to gradually fill with saline, every 2 weeks or so, until my boobs are the sizes I feel comfortable with..And hopefully they are both the same sizes, because from what I hear, sometimes it doesn't always turn out like that at first.....Anywho......They will sew my boobs up, well actually "HUMPS" up, and when my humps are big enough, they will put more permanent implants in, and then can create nipples, and even tattoo areolas!  Of course, this involves multiple surgeries, but from what I've read, it's about 4-5 months total time.......Not bad, I guess, considering you are losing two parts of yourself...

And yes, there are a lot of different surgery options, but that is the procedure I think I am going to do, and this is what I think is right for me. You can do reconstructions where they take fat tissue from your stomach or butt, and instead of putting implants in, they can reconstruct your breasts with your own living tissue....But the downside of that,  in my opinion, is that you are not only recovering from the breast surgeries, you are recovering from the surgery from the donor site.And I've heard that it is a very painful recovery....And I am active.. I run, I have two small kids and I am a nurse and I am always out and about.. I don't think I could take months to recover. That's just me,  and everyone is different. Some people have great success with those surgeries...Everyone has their own decisions and opinions. Plus, everyone's body is different. So you have to take all kinds of factors into account when trying to make a decision as to what type of procedure you want..

There are also surgeries where they can spare your nipples and sew your own nipples back on, but I have read that it is very risky for BRCA+ patients to do this procedure because this has a high risk of actually getting breast cancer, even after having PBM. (Prophylactic bilateral mastectomy.) Also, once again, decisions!

I read "The Breast Reconstruction Guidebook" by Kathy Steligo and yes, I researched and researched and researched like a freak, (I still am!) just about every night since learning about my BRCA + status, but to be educated  is to be empowered.  No one else is going to make your decisions for you. That goes for anything in life. We make our own decisions in life, and this is one decision to not take lightly. Become educated, know your stuff, ask questions, follow your instincts. Don't let a doctor talk you into doing something you don't feel right about, and don't go to a doctor you don't feel comfortable with.

Our boobs may be ticking time bombs, but we have the control to decide how to deadinate them. And while we're at it, we can get new boobs in the process!

You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself
any direction you choose.
-Oh, the Places You'll Go!  by Dr.Seuss

Saturday, April 3, 2010


Okay now...So are some of yall out there confused or wondering exactly what being positive for BRCA1 or BRCA2 means?  Yea, you don't have to lie...I know you are..Even my own husband still gets confused about what the whole thing means. (Afterall, he is a man..) I mean  it's genetics, and there is nothing simple about them. Hopefully I can explain it without sounding like a boring ass teacher or something....So here goes......

All of us have these BRCA genes...(BReast CAncer genes). Yes, even guys! (Men can be positive for these genes too!) These genes within our DNA are tumor ninjas. If a tumor starts growing in our body, primarily in certain areas like the breasts and ovaries, but also in other organs, these genes trigger something in our bodies to kick their ass, and stop their growth from getting out of hand, and becoming cancer...In other words, these BRCA genes are tumor suppressors. They suppress tumors. Alright...Got that much down?? Okay....Next...

In some people, these BRCA genes are messed up for some reason...There is a mutation in them. It doesn't do it's job in kicking ass. It can't stop those tumors from growing, once they start to grow. (FYI-Every single day, our bodies and immune systems kill cancer cells) .Once a tumor starts to grow in the breasts or ovaries primarily,  if not caught in time,  it can spread to the lymph nodes, and once that happens, it metastasizes (Spreads to other organs, basically the tumor becomes it's own organ with it's own blood supply, and the cancer spreads throughout the body if not treated.) Scary stuff. 

The main difference between being positive for  BRCA1 and BRCA2 is that:
-BRCA 1 has a higher risk of ovarian cancer
-BRCA 2 has a higher risk of breast cancer
BUT being positive for either one means you are at risk for both cancers... I read that the 1 in ever 850 people is positive for BRCA1, and 1 out of every 1250 people is positive for BRCA2. And yes, it is possible to be positive for both gene mutations. 

As for me, I am BRCA2 positive. My mom was BRCA2 positive. She was 32 when she was diagnosed with hormone sensitive breast cancer. That is 6 years older than I am right now. Scary shit. It's not fair. That's all there is to it. It wasn't fair that my mom died of breast cancer. It's not fair that anyone dies of breast cancer.  That's why I consider it a blessing that I know what my future holds. And it's a future that I can change for the better.  How fair is that?

I know that if my mom could have taken this genetic test and known her fate about getting breast cancer at age 26-Ten years before her BRCA2 gene couldn't do it's job- she probably would have opted to have her breasts removed...And she might still be here today. But life didn't work out like that, and she's gone....But I do know that she is with me everyday, and is helping me make these tough decisions. I inherited more than just a mutated gene from my mom, I inherited her stubbornness,  and because of that, I refuse to let cancer be a part of my life again. And if that means I have to do something as SIMPLE (in retrospect to life), such as having my boobs removed, then I'm doing it. Bring it on! 

Friday, April 2, 2010

B ( . ) ( . ) B

I remember after my mom had her mastectomy done, and what her chest looked like...Yea, I was young, and boobs weren't a big deal to me back then, and I just remember her having one breast and then a big scar on the other side where another breast should have been. I also remember her having this little "chicken cutlet" thing (well, to be politically correct, I should call it a prosthesis, but for my sake, I'll call it a chicken cutlet because that's what it looked like), to put in her bra, to fill out the missing part of her. I was a young, strange girl, (my dad used to call me a "space cadet" ) and sometimes, I would get that chicken cutlet, put it in my shirt, and examine my profile in the mirror....I had A boob. One boob. If only I knew the trouble that breasts were back then, I wouldn't have been lusting for them so badly......

Now I'm sure if one of my brothers would have walked in on me checking myself out with this fake boob under my shirt, I probably would still be getting shit from them....But here I am today, spilling it all out on the world wide web for all to read, and it's interesting.......In a couple of months, I will be the one losing both of my boobs...Granted, I am the one making the decision to lose my breasts...It's not like I have to have this surgery.....But let me put it in perspective for you:

*If you knew that the car you bought had an 87%-95% chance of the breaks going out and killing you, would you buy it?
*If you knew that you had an 87%-95% chance of dying if you left your house tomorrow, would you leave your house at all?
*If you knew that there was an 87%-95% chance that the plane you get on was going to crash, would you still get on it?
*If you knew that you had an 87%-95% chance of getting breast cancer by the time you're fifty, would you just sit back and HOPE you catch it in time????????

The last question is one that many of us with this gene mutation have to fight with....It's a hard one.  Sure, technology is bad-ass now and can catch even the smallest tumors/changes in breast tissue, but do you want to take that chance of  "I hope they can catch it in time?" Hell no, not me.

Here is my personal take on it: I want to be in control of the situation. Not the cancer...I don't ever want cancer to have any kind of control over me or my family EVER!  By having a prophylactic bilateral mastectomy, this will reduce my chances of getting cancer by 90%!  Yes, it's a drastic measure to take, but I am more than willing to do it, because I am the one saying "Do it", instead of someone saying, "You have to have a mastectomy because you have cancer."  Because if that was the case, the cancer would have the control. I don't want that mother fucker to have any power over me. Like I have said before, I don't want my children to have to even be introduced to cancer. This is why I'm doing it. 

Yeah, I know there are some out there thinking to themselves, "WTF! Why is she cutting her perfectly, wonderful, beautiful, perky, breasts off? "  (Yes, I am being sarcastic. My boobs are way off from being perfect, wonderful, beautiful and perky!)  But seriously.  All I can say is that I watched my mother, my best friend, my hero, die in front of my eyes because of this horrible disease. Breast cancer is something that steals beautiful women away from the world.  All I can say to those of you who may not support my decision, or may think I am being dramatic, is WHY WOULDN'T I DO THIS? 

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Looking into the Crystal Ball

Have you ever wondered how you were going to die? Have you ever wondered when you might die? Well, I know a majority of you have wondered this question, and probably have even taken one of those stupid little facebook quizzes or something that predicts your future and tells you that you will die "in a carwreck", or of a "heart attack in the year 2068" or some crap like that....Well, for a select group of women, including me, (and yes, I have taken those facebook quizzes, so I guess I fall into both categories), who might have experienced the death of a mother, sister, aunt, grandmother, etc., due to breast or ovarian cancer, we can take a test to tell us if we are positive for a specific genetic mutation, that will give us cancer, and will ultimately, possibly KILL us. We know possibly HOW we will die..We know around the time of our lives that cancer will possibly show up in our lives. (That fucking enemy, I can't stand!) But with this knowledge, we can change the future.

Breast cancer has been my number one enemy since I was 6 years old. My mom was diagnosed with breast cancer when I was 6, she was at the young, vibrant age of 32! Of course, my parents kept a lot of the medical information quiet around my brothers and me, because they didn't want to scare us, and now as a mother myself, I understand this. No way would I want my kids to have to understand or take the burden of such an illness of their own mother, under their wings. But I do know that I realized my mom was sick. I overheard the word "cancer" and "sick" and saw the changes that my mom went through, and so for a kid to witness that, damn straight cancer will become an unwelcome stranger/enemy for a kid. To this day, it still is. It might not be a stranger anymore, I might recognize cancer, but it's sure as hell not welcome in my life!

My mom passed away in 1997 on Thanksgiving night. She was the strongest and most strong willed woman I have ever known. She would have done anything to keep living, but the cancer defeated her entire body. It metastasized all over. If only she could have known BEFORE she got cancer that she was going to get it, and could have done something to possibly prevent it...Who knows...Maybe my mom would still be here. She could be with her grandchildren.

So back to me knowing when I am going to die. In December of 2009, I got genetic testing done to see if I was positive or negative for the Breast Cancer genes...(I will go into detail on another blog about what these genes exactly are, and what the mutations mean)......I was at a patient's home (I am a registered nurse and I work in home health/hospice) when I received a call from my breast doctor in Lubbock, so obviously I had to take the phonecall....Well, it was like getting the WOOORST phone call EVER! The Dr. told me, "Mrs. Slaten, we got the results of your genetic testing back, and you tested negative for the BRCA1 gene." WHEW! Okay. That's good...I thought...Then he continued to talk, and I could hear it in his voice that the next thing coming out of his mouth was not good..."But you tested positive for the BRCA2 gene, which means by the time you are 50 years old, you have an 87-95% chance of getting breast cancer."

Holy shit....I felt like someone had told me that my mom had died all over again. I literally felt darkness surround me.

The doctor asked me if I had any questions, and EFF yeah I had questions, but I was also freaking out, and I was at a patient's house, on their front porch, where I had just received the crappiest news ever.....I told the doc. that I would call if I had any questions, which I didn't and wouldn't, cuz I'm not like that,( I just researched them myself on my trusty ol' laptop), and finished with my patient's visit, then got in my car, drove to the "flumes", (It's a Carlsbad thing....Don't ask if you don't know), and had a full blown panic attack, cried for 30 minutes straight.......I'm sure people driving by probably thought I was on drugs, and at this point, I probably wished I was on some drugs to calm me down or something.......I called my husband, and then called my dad. My mind was not consumed with this information. From that point on, I think my life prior was just Angela-living her life......After knowing the fate of her (more than likely) cancer filled future consumed my every second of every day. I was no longer Angela anymore. It does something to you. Having this knowledge is a blessing, yes, don't get me wrong, but it now feels like a death sentence...

The haunting voice of "by the time you are 50, you have an 87%-95% chance of getting breast cancer" kept playing on replay in my head over and over again.......Then I was struck by the awful thought of wondering if Brooke, my 3 year old daughter, will have this gene mutation. Panic attack number 2 sets in.

Emotional roller coaster continued for the next couple of weeks while trying to appear to be a normal mother, wife, nurse, friend....It sucked. The forecast for the darkness over Angela was in full force everday.

My death sentence has begun...For the longest time after my mom passed away, I always wondered, "will I get breast cancer?" In all reality, it is no longer a matter of WILL I get cancer, it is now a matter of WHEN will I get cancer? This enemy of mine. The enemy of my entire family's. I know my future now. Looking into the crystal ball ain't all it's cracked up to be....I know what's knocking on my future's door, and I am prepared to kick it's ass. I am prepared to do the most drastic thing of all to not even allow this ruthless son of a bitch mother fucker peek it's head into my life, or the lives of my children and husband. I won't allow it.

In the months ahead, I will blog my journey as I say goodbye to two members of myself.....My breasts. Join me as I laugh, cry, vent, cuss, freak the f out, be a complete psycho weirdo, and be completely open with everything I feel,throughout my journey...Because that's what it is..Besides.We don't receive wisdom; we must discover it for ourselves after a journey that no one can take for us or spare us.