My name is Lisa Callahan and I am a previvor for 11 years now, and I am living proof that choosing to do these surgeries enhances your life experience. At least it did for me. Breast Cancer always seemed to be part of my family. When I was around 6 years old, I remember being fascinated with my grandmother’s prosthetic boob. I remember asking my mom why grandma only had one breast and she said “She had cancer”. I had no idea what my family’s history was going to mean for me in the future, but fast forward 10 years and I was about to find out. I remember my mother telling me that she had breast cancer when I was 16. It was an interesting time because right before my mom got cancer so did my stepdad. I was in 10th grade and all of a sudden, I was a caregiver. At one point both of my parents were in the hospital staying on different floors at the same time. Unfortunately, we lost my stepdad to Colon cancer the next year and my mother survived her breast cancer and is thriving at 75 years old now! yay mom! The whole experience when I was a teenager had me extremely fearful for my own health and my own family. At 24 years old after having my first child, I became terrified that I might get breast cancer so I started going for mammograms. I remember the technicians telling me that I was too young for a mammogram and they would not do the test. Year after year, I tried to get the mammogram done and by the time I was 27 and they told me I was still too young I became hysterical in the office and told them to tell the woman who was 27 years old in my mother’s breast cancer group that just died. That finally got them to listen to me and do the test. I went religiously after that, and always checked my breast for lumps which I found aplenty. After my 4th biopsy on another lump that I had found, my surgeon told me that I should go in for BRCA testing. I thought the idea was radical. I told him that I didn’t want to know, because what was I going to do about it if I DID have the gene? He told me that I was going to have a prophylactic double mastectomy and a full hysterectomy. I was 34 years old and I thought he was CRAZY! I had 3 kids, a full career and a very full calendar, “who in the world had time to have some crazy radical surgery” I thought! I was in FULL resistance. Luckily the Dr. was in full persistence, and he had his office call me every week for the next 6 months until I finally went in to take the test. As I walked out of the blood test I knew the result would be positive. It was like all of my fears were staring me in the face. There was nowhere to hide. My intuition was correct and It turns out I am BRCA2+. I left the office with a handful of pamphlets and did nothing for the next 6 months until I saw my regular GYNO and told him about my test. He almost fell off his chair when I told him. I think I was the only patient that he had at that time that had turned up positive for the test he almost didn’t know what to do. Now, remember, this was 2005, way before the Angelena Jolie’s of the world. Not many people were having this surgery yet. I spent the next 3 years getting MRI’s with contrast every 6 months, and mammograms, and ultrasound’s every 3 until one day I woke up and said “I AM DONE”.I immediately scheduled an appointment with an oncologist and a plastic surgeon. I didn’t even take my husband with me. I came home one day, told him I was having my breast removed in 4 months and that was that. I am unbelievably grateful for his support. I scheduled my surgery 4 months out because I wanted to have time to get into the best shape of my life. I set 4 goals: Do a 5k race in under 25 minutes, complete a half marathon, do a 100-mile bike ride, and do my first Olympic distance triathlon. I know these seem like lofty goals, but for me, I needed to see what I was made of. I had to make sure that I was tough enough to go through what I was planning to go through. No longer was I afraid. I was fearless. 1 year and four surgeries later I had a double mastectomy, implants, hysterectomy, and nipple reconstruction. Since then I have also completed 10 half marathons, 2 full marathons, 8 half Ironman, 2 full Ironman, and went up on stage with my “fake boobies” and all for a figure competition. I am proud to say that I AM tough enough, I AM brave enough, I AM Strong enough, and I AM loving my life worry-free of breast/ovarian cancer. I am so lucky that my Dr. was amazing and that he stayed on my case to get the testing done. I am now 47 years old and 11 years post-surgery. It was the best thing I have ever done. I hope this story inspires someone out there to take action. You’ve got this!