So after learning I could lower my risk of getting breast cancer to under 3 percent by having a double mastectomy, it felt as close to a no-brainer as a major surgery can get.
I’m not here to say that every woman with a family history of breast cancer should have a preventive mastectomy—the choices we make about our bodies as women are ours and ours alone.
My doctor explained that because my breast cancer did not display with calcifications (which is medical-speak for the common way this type of cancer is detected in its early stages), the only way we could have caught it when we did was through my elective preventive surgery.
I had no idea that on the day of my preventive double mastectomy, I was also walking into the hospital as a woman already living with breast cancer.
Like most of the women in my family, I carry the BRCA2 gene mutation, which means that if I did nothing, my risk of developing breast cancer at some point in my life would be around 85 percent.
If I hadn’t proactively asked to take a BRCA test because of my family history, and then had preventive surgery that caught my undetected cancer, my story would have turned out very differently.
After finding out I have a BRCA2 gene mutation—and an 85 percent risk of getting breast cancer—I made the tough choice to have a preventive double mastectomy.
It’s standard procedure to test the breast tissue removed during a preventive mastectomy because in a small percentage of cases, doctors find previously undetected cancerous tissue already present.
My chest was still fully bandaged with a faucet of bright red fluid pouring out of my sides through drains when I received a call from my doctor: I was one of those rare cases. “You had breast cancer,” she told me.
My doctor explained that I had Stage 0 non-invasive breast cancer (DCIS), meaning my cancer had not spread into the surrounding breast tissue. The good news?
Even though I’m only 39 and my recent mammogram, ultrasound, and breast MRI were all clear, I knew taking control of my health and being proactive was the right choice for me.
I’d seen firsthand what that looks like; my great-grandmother, grandmother, mother, and two aunts have all battled breast cancer.
"The timing was mind-blowing." https://t.co/dIkJXnEVRU— Glamour (@glamourmag) June 7, 2019