Hey there, friends! If you came to the blog today looking for organization or home decor or blogging ideas, I apologize that you’ll probably be disappointed. (But I promise that I’ll be back next week with lots of fun projects!) It’s been a little while since I’ve done a life/health update post, and since there have been some significant things going on behind the scenes around here lately, I figured that it was about time.
Over three years ago now, I talked about the fact that I, along with my mom and sister, am a carrier of the BRCA1 genetic mutation, which makes us very prone to breast and ovarian cancer. You can read our full story here.
I’ve known about the gene since I was 20, and I knew it would mean that I would have to have some preventative surgeries sometime down the road. Two years ago when I turned 30, we knew we were done having kids, and since my grandmother was just 33 when she was diagnosed with breast cancer, I decided it was time to have a preventative double mastectomy to greatly reduce my risk. You can read about my surgery and recovery in this post.
Though my chance of getting breast cancer is now extremely small, I have continued to see high risk doctors and specialists to monitor my risk of ovarian cancer. Every 6 months I would have a few tests run and would go to see one (or more) of the doctors on my team to make sure everything was looking good.
Every 6 months, though, we would get the reports back from the tests, and my numbers would move ever so slightly in the wrong direction. To be clear, none of the many knowledgeable, highly-qualified doctors that I meet with thinks that I have cancer. There are many different factors that go into these numbers, and they could mean absolutely nothing. But there is still a (very small) chance that they could mean something.
So every 6 months for the past few years, I have watched those numbers go up and up and up. This past time when they went up again, my doctors agreed that I should start having the tests done every 3 months instead of every 6 months. And that was kind of the last straw for me.
I know that I have a gene that makes me very, very prone to cancer.
I know that several women in my family have gotten cancer at a very young age, and that I am approaching the age that my grandmother was when she was first diagnosed with cancer.
I know that for a few years now, my numbers have been going in the wrong direction.
And it’s stressful. And it scares me. And every 6 months when we would get my test results back and the numbers had gone up again, I would think about what it would be like for my boys to grow up without their mother. I know that seems dramatic, but it’s where my mind would go.
And so rather than have to do that every 3 months, I started talking with my doctors about options. Initially, I wasn’t planning to have the surgery to reduce my risk of ovarian cancer until I was 35– about 2 1/2 years from now. There are hormonal implications and all sorts of other potential side effects that go along with the surgery, so the recommendation is typically to wait until 35.
But because of all of the factors listed above, because I don’t want to have to go through another few years of less-than-ideal test results, I began asking my doctors if it would make a significant difference over the long term to have surgery now rather than wait a few more years. They all agreed that there would be no significant difference, so we decided to go ahead and schedule surgery for March.
I know it’s not the path that everyone would choose. I know that I probably don’t have cancer and would probably be fine to wait another few years. But I am confident that this is the best personal choice for me, and that for my own sanity and peace of mind, it’s better to go ahead with it.
I’m not going to lie and say I’ve been totally calm and brave throughout this whole process. In fact, even though it’s what I wanted and I initiated the discussion, for a few days after I found out I would be having surgery sooner rather than later, I felt like I shut down. I couldn’t bring myself to do blog projects or go places or do much work around the house. I was kind of down in the dumps and not very much fun to be around.
But then on one of those days when I was feeling all mopey and sorry for myself, out of nowhere a part of Esther 4:14 popped into my head, “And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”
If you’re not familiar with the story, Queen Esther has been asked to do a big thing, something that has the potential to end her life but also has the potential to save her entire people. She’s scared, but her cousin asks her this challenging question: What if she had become queen, had been brought to her position for this exact purpose? (Spoiler alert: She saves her people and her life is spared. Yay!)
Now I know that my having to have surgery seriously pales in comparison to what Esther was asked to do, but at those times when I find myself wishing that I was just “normal” and didn’t have to deal with all of this genetic stuff, it is such a good reminder to me that this gene may be a mutation, but it is not a mistake. I believe that God created every fiber of my being, BRCA1 included, so even if it’s scary, even if I don’t understand how or why, He can use it for good. And he’s smarter than me, so I’m okay with that. 🙂
I also know that God loves me, and He wants His very best for me. I’m confident in that. So if that includes genetic mutations and surgeries and recoveries, I know there’s a reason, there’s a purpose, and that He has things to teach me in the process. So though it may not be how I would have written my own story, I know that the story will be so much better with Him as the author. And though I may still feel nervous and scared because of so many unknowns, I’m also excited to see what the future holds.
So for now I’m going to work on cramming in as many projects as possible between now and the end of March. And we’re in the process of figuring out what things will look like while I’m recovering and not able to do much. Hopefully we’ll be able to work ahead and not even miss a beat. But if things around here are a little quieter than usual, this would be why. 🙂
So that’s life lately. 2017 is already turning out quite differently than what I had expected, but I think it’s going to be a great year nonetheless!
If you’ve missed the other parts of my BRCA story, you can catch up in these posts:
Life Lately (2nd Surgery) – You’re here!
Have a wonderful weekend!