family tree

family tree

Friday, October 23, 2009

What is the lesson here?

Today is a day that I am trying desperately to figure out WHY? Why I am BRCA +, why my sister is BRCA + and my mother? Why!? I know, sometimes there is no reasoning for or answers, but it is so frustrating.

I have taken most events or happenings in my life and tried to turn them into a learning experience or allowed it to shape me in some way or another. Some are easy lessons, others have taken years, some I still am working on. I am sick of learning from my experiences to be honest. Today is one of those days that I have to dig deep inside and think that there must be a purpose here. Because why would this be occurring. I know I am feeling bad for myself and my family, but I feel that I am allowed to on occasion.

Today is a day that I just want my breast removed. I am sick of wondering, waiting, trying to time my life according how old I am and how many kids I want, or will I get cancer before that time. I feel like I am on the clock. "ok, lets go!" If you want more kids- have them now! Lets go- lets go! There is such an urgency about this. And honestly, I get the urgency. I feel it in my bones. I lay awake at night wondering when, how old will I be, should I just do the surgery now, or wait! It is an unsettling sense of urgency. And no one can and will tell you what to do. That would be too easy. They suggest or recommend!

I think about work, and my kids, my husband! How will this impact them. Yet, how will it be to have young children and undergo breast cancer treatment. I see it everyday. Young families blind sided by cancer. One day your healthy, worried about what is for dinner or who will bring the kids to practice, the next day you are wondering if you will live. It's is heartbreaking and inspiring to watch a family dynamic when faced with adversity. Some come out on top and thrive, others fold and become consumed!

I remember before my brother died I thought imagined what would happen to me if he had died. I tried to foresee what it would be like. I imagined I would drop out of college, shrink into a ball, become depressed and miserable, and my life as I knew it would be no more. After my brother died it was as if I did the complete opposite of what I expected of myself. It was instinctual too! I just kept my head above water, barely! I went back to school two weeks later, took my final exams, got the best grades I had any other semester, I returned to work, went out with friends, became a nurse, then a nurse practitioner.Who would have thought! Don't get me wrong, mentally I was not there, but physically I did what I had to. Like Dori says, "just keep swimming, just keep swimming".

Well, I will end my rant on a positive note...
Knowledge is power, my gene is no longer hidden, it's face has been reveled, so I have the power!

Thanks for listening!

Fitting into my Genes!: Fitting into my Genes!: BRCA whaaaat???

Fitting into my Genes!: Fitting into my Genes!: BRCA whaaaat???

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

BRCA whaaaat???

This is my first time blogging, therefore I am a virgin blogger! So I hope this opportunity to write down my thoughts and stories provides me as well as others whatever we are searching for when we share our life with others.

A little about me you ask! Well I could go on forever. That is a book in itself.

I am 34 years old, just had my second child 6 months ago. I have been blessed with a healthy 3 1/2 year old son and little baby girl. If you looked at my life from afar you would say the "perfect family". My husband and I have worked hard for everything we have in our life. We have student loans up the whazoo, but we both owe it to our educations for what we have today. We love intensly and fight intensly. With that being said, we are not what you see from afar!

I will not discuss my husband's background or upbringing out of respect for his privacy. However, he is a big part of my life and will be part of my journey for the rest of our lives together.

I have lived my life under the Cancer cloud! When I was ten years old my younger brother was diagnosed with brain cancer. This of course changed everything about my childhood and who I would become as an adult. He lived 12 years with the disease, fighting tooth and nail. Leaving us with great memories of his strength and will to LIVE. He died when I was 21 years old. This was the most tragic moment of my life. A part of me was gone forever! I was in nursing school at the time, and managed somehow to muffle through and graduate with my bachelor of nursing degree two years later. I went through the normal grieving process, so I thought, but life goes on and if you don't jump on the train you get hit by it- so I jumped on board and rode it for a while.

Those few years after my brother's death was quite a blur as I look back. I became a nurse, had a lot of friends, was social, dated, moved to the city-Did what every post college kids was "supposed" to do. I met my husband to be a few years post college, and our journey began! During that time I struggled with my own personal ups and downs that, I feel, most people who lose loved ones go through. I had a great support system within my family and friends. My sister who is 4 years younger than me at times treated me like I was the younger one, and just guided me through the tough times. To this day she has been my rock! Because of my brothers loss, I figured we were done! Done in terms of loss and illness in my family. I figured we had been hit pretty hard by life's curve ball. Well that was a crazy thought!

My mother at the age of 52 was diagnosed with breast cancer Sept 2001. I was 26 years old, working as a cardiac nurse, living in sin with my boyfriend of one year, and trying to move on and up! This was a another blow! Fortunately, my mother's cancer was found early, she was diagnosed with a stage I cancer, had a lumpectomy, and treated chemotherapy and radiation. She also did amazing with treatment. Of course making this a little easier to watch. Mom always stayed positive and smiled when we were around! I know this was my mothers worst nightmare as well. My mother has been cancer free now for over 8 years, but when we talk about it now she says she always knew she would get cancer! It was not a big surprise to her. She lost her mother at the age of 10 years old to breast cancer. Her mother was 36 years old at diagnosis and died around the age of 39/40 years of age. Tragic!

After my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer I found myself drawn to cancer even more! It was as if I befriended it! I became comfortable with my cardiac patients who perhaps had cancer. I found myself speaking at support group events and even considered changing specialties and crossing over to the oncology world. I got it! I had been there, I could relate to these patients fears, anger, regrets and experiences. So I took the plunge one month after my mom completed chemotherapy. I became an oncology nurse! Crazy me! It was from this moment on that I decided I was not going to walk under the "cancer cloud", I will walk ahead of it or behind! I was going to take all my life's experiences and pain and turn it into something positive and help others with this disease. I wanted to help those fight it, live with it, and some die from it! I felt honored to part of this world and I felt accepted and welcomed by my patients. I knew I was making a difference. I took control of the disease that took my brother, my grandmother, my close family friends and tried to take my mom!

After a few years of working as a nurse and getting married I decided to become a nurse practitioner. I had my first child and worked through school. Life was busy and insanely abnormal, but we managed. I graduated after three years and became an oncology nurse practitioner. There was never a thought in my mind about leaving oncology. No matter how hard it was at times! For all the people I have lost from cancer, I have seen so many survive it! Now don't let me fool you! Through all of this I struggled! Everyday was not a good day, in fact I am really not as positive as I sound in my writing. I continued to mourn the death of my brother, the fears of losing my mother and I as got older my patients starting looking more like me!

I always thought about what I would do it I got cancer. I made up a plan in my head. I actually joked about having my own "chemo vein". It was the big whopping vein that runs down the back of my forearm. I would tell people I was saving that one for a "special" day! It was the sick humor I needed to get me through sometimes. My sister and I always assumed we would perhaps get breast cancer someday. But it was that passing thought that came and went. I more worried about my families health than my own. Up until now!

While 8 months pregnant with my little girl to be my mother underwent genetic testing for her breast cancer. Her doctors, as well as her proactive, annoying two daughters had encouraged it for years. My mother had reluctantly gone through with it after years of thinking about it. She would find out shortly after having the genetics appointment that she was in fact BRCA 1 + and this was most likely the reason for her developing a triple negative breast cancer at the age of 52, the reason her mother had breast cancer at the age of 36, and the reason her mother's sister had breast cancer in her 30's! My sister then decided she would get tested. We talked about it a lot, and both agreed we would go forward, but I was still pregnant and knew I wanted to wait until after her birth. Can anyone relate to this one! I am sure!

I remember the call... "BRCA whaaat?" Are you f*&^ing kidding me! (Sorry, but that was all I could say!) This now was going to impact my sister, my only living flesh, my bestest friend, my support, my silly little sister! She had just gotten married, was enjoying life to the fullest! After a honeymoon in Hawaii, she was planning her trip to Europe to explore ! Why now? Why her? I knew they wanted kids, but what would this do to them, what will happen now?

I knew what would happen, I needed to get tested!

About 2 months after having my adorable little girl I decided to go forward with the testing. I honestly thought I would be positive, but truly I thought maybe I will be negative. How can we all be positive. I was thinking about how I will be the one who has to take care of all of them. I would do anything to change positions with my sister, to take the burden of all this off of her, but I still had a feeling I may be negative! Another crazy thought!

I am 34 years old, with a husband, two young children, one being a girl and I am BRCA 1 +!

So here I am at this very moment now thinking about myself, my life, my mortality, my immortality and my children's life! My choices are radical, aggressive and physically altering, but they need to be made.

This is something I can not exchange, no give backs, these are my genes! This will be my journey "fitting into my GENES"!

And the journey continues....