February 2017 I found out I was BRCA1 positive

From February until October last year, I went through the hardest time of my life so far as a 28 year old female as I was processing, accepting, and trying to find validation for my decision to remove perfectly ‘healthy’ parts of my body? How do you explain that? How will people react? It’ll be too hard for me to explain. They won’t understand. But I have an 87% chance of getting breast cancer, how will they not understand?!?? I don’t see any other option. My BRCA+ results never left my mind for 8 months. Everything revolved around my surgery. I was literally mourning the loss of my body parts that I hadn’t lost yet and it felt unexplainable.

…It wasn’t until 3 days before my prophylactic bilateral mastectomy with nipple removal, that I found the courage to share my journey publicly. And it was the best decision I could have ever made. Ever since OT school, I’ve always tried to be as sensitive as possible to others as I was taught by my admirable OT professors and live by “You never know what someone is going through.” And always make sure to validate and never ever ever downplay my patients’ or anyone’s feelings regardless of the fact that I most likely do not know what that is like. I know that it is always comforting to have someone acknowledge your situation and provide support to remind you that you’re not alone so I’ve always made sure to do so.

Every day I saw patients going through things so much worse than me and I continued to keep my own struggle to myself as I knew it could be much much worse.. it most definitely can be and I’m so beyond blessed to be in the situation that I am. But with very few people knowing what i was going through, it was also hard because I began feeling alone and almost lost…bc this time, no one knew what I was going through (aside from very close friends/coworkers and family) Then, with the help of my therapist and amazing friends/fam, I finally realized I was downplaying and refusing to validate my own feelings and acknowledge that what I felt was reasonable and okay as my own body and life would be changed forever as well. And with the courage and transparency that many of you have shown on Facebook, Instagram, blogs.. and by being so brave and sharing your own stories, it provided me with the affirmation to share mine as I felt comforted by knowing I was in fact not at all alone in this, even if I didn’t personally know you.

I honestly spent endless nights alone reading all your posts, blogs, photos, etc bc it was the only way I felt like I had someone to relate to. So to all of those on Facebook, Instagram and all of you who have openly shared their journeys, I thank you for your strength and being so brave, as you have helped me more than you know.. Now by sharing my own story, I found the support and validation I needed to get me through this process and fully accept these changes that I am undergoing. So although I was trying to live by one of my favorite quotes that you never know what someone is going through, I also found a new perspective of it because although it is true that no you don’t know.. it’s important to remember not everyone does live by this, so sometimes you do need to speak up and tell someone what you’re going through because your feelings are always always valid. I can’t stress this enough. It is okay to feel however you feel. This is your life. Your situation. Your journey & only you know how you are to feel☝…by opening up about my BRCA journey, I met one of my true inspirations Tracy Milgram BRCA Strong(as well as many other strong courageous women) who because of her strength and openness of her BRCA journey, I found my own strength to share and embrace my journey as well as creating many new friendships✊…so please please never be scared of sharing your journey because you never know who you are inspiring and helping because of it and you never know how much support you truly have ?

Trust your journey?

Rosalia Friess

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