My father encouraged me to get genetic counseling and testing because of my family history—my mother passed away from breast cancer at age 42. I also knew my risk was higher because of my Ashkenazi Jewish heritage.
After I learned that I had a BRCA1 gene mutation, I decided to get frequent breast cancer screenings. This allowed me to catch and treat my breast cancer early at age 25.
Building Community for Young Survivors
I found that cancer communities didn’t always meet the needs of young survivors like me. This led me to co-found Young Adult Cancer Connection (YACC).
Through this group, I connect with other young people affected by cancer around the unique issues we face, like how cancer affects our friendships and romantic relationships, body image, and family planning.
I find that my fellow survivors and I are relieved to be able to share our unique experiences in these groups.
Family Planning with a BRCA Mutation
My husband and I are trying to have children. We are pursuing in vitro fertilization (IVF) and preimplantation genetic diagnosisexternal icon (testing embryos for a BRCA gene mutation) in the hopes of having a child without a BRCA gene mutation.
The process is expensive, time consuming, and stressful for me. Still, I feel hopeful and fortunate for the opportunity to grow my family.
Realities After Breast Removal
I had a double mastectomy (surgery to remove both breasts) as part of my cancer treatment. Because of complications with healing, I had to have additional surgeries and was not completely happy with my results.
I feel the media and social media often only share positive experiences women have with double mastectomies. These stories often focus on beautiful results, but not the challenges. For example, I know from my cancer communities that some women might miss their breasts or how they feel.
I hope more women can hear and share more diverse experiences to know they are not alone.