From previous experience and knowledge of her own condition, this inspirational woman has spurred a movement, the previving moment!
Being a Previvor
A previvor is an individual who is a survivor of a predisposition of cancer. Meaning they have not had cancer affect them, but they do have a high risk or getting the disease. This group includes people who carry a hereditary mutation, a family history of cancer, or some other predisposing factor.
A previvor, by definition, is a word used to describe those who have a higher risk for cancer due to close family history or due to certain genetic mutations (like the BRCA1 or BRCA2). However they have not been diagnosed with cancer.
About 10-15% of most Cancers are hereditary
The average woman in the United States has about a 1 in 8, or about 12%, risk of developing breast cancer in her lifetime.
BRCA1 carriers have a 55-65 percent chance of developing breast cancer by the age of 70.
BRCA2 carriers have about a 45 percent chance of developing breast cancer by the age of 70.
Men can also have BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations and have the possibility of passing these gene mutations to their children.
According to Susan G. Komen’s website:
BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations increases a woman’s risk of ovarian cancer. 
The lifetime risk of ovarian cancer (up to the age 70) is:
- Less than 2 percent for women in the general population
- 35-70 percent for BRCA1 carriers
- 10-30 percent for BRCA2 carriers
The BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes
The breast cancer 1 (BRCA1) and breast cancer 2 (BRCA2) genes are the genes most commonly affected in hereditary breast and ovarian cancer. Normally, the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes protect you from getting certain cancers. However, certain mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes may prevent them from working properly. If you inherit one of these mutations, you are more likely to get breast, ovarian, and other cancers. You and your family members are more likely to have a BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation if your family has a strong history of breast or ovarian cancer. Because BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations are inherited, family members with BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations usually share the same mutation.
Resources, Tools, Action Plans on Battling Cancer
Through genetic testing, doctors are able to detect the cancer in its early stages, improving the odds of survival.
Other action plans to increase odds of survival:
- a monthly breast self-exam
- a yearly breast exam by your doctor
- a digital mammogram every year starting at age 30 or younger
- an MRI scan every year starting at age 30 or younger
Being aware that you have a mutation, like BRCA 1 and BRCA 2, allows you and your healthcare provider to create a personalized screening plan. Which can then increase the chance of detecting the cancer early on.
Protective surgery: Removing the healthy breasts and ovaries — called prophylactic surgery (“prophylactic” means “protective”) — are very aggressive and is an irreversible risk-reduction option that some women with an abnormal BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene choose.
Prophylactic breast surgery may be able to reduce a woman’s risk of developing breast cancer by as much as 97 percent. The surgery removes nearly all of the breast tissue, so there are very few breast cells left behind that could develop into a cancer.
It Gets Better, After Day 1
The first night is hard. You’re going to be tired, and it won’t be easy to get comfortable or get a lot of sleep in the hospital. Just know that things improve greatly after the first night. Don’t be a martyr when it comes to pain medication – If you need it, take it.
How to Drain
Most likely you will leave with several drains after a bilateral mastectomy, and even if you think you know how to use them, let the nurses show you and your caregiver how to empty them properly. Measuring the drains and fluid that comes out is crucial and knowing when they come out!
Lots of Pillows
You need lots of pillows in all different shapes and sizes. A Mastectomy pillow is designed to provide comfort and protection after a Mastectomy operation.
Time Heals All Wounds
Physically, I’m feeling better every day. It feels strange sometimes with my implants, but for the most part, I’m feeling back to my old self. “My BRCA2 gene may have started the fight, but I finished it.”
BRCAStrong on Facebook is a private group for women who are BRCA positive where they can support one another. They are also more than welcomed to ask questions, give advice, and most importantly know we are not alone.
BRCAStrong on Instagram is to bring awareness to our community and constantly educate women and men on the genetic mutations they may have. Inform followers about various options to decrease the likelihood of getting a cancer.
YOU ARE NOT ALONE! Get support from BRCA Strong on Facebook and Instagram. Either through message boards, real time chat, meet ups, or by connecting with locals or other organizations and doctors.