Breast Cancer Awareness Month: Sara’s Story

With October being Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we want to highlight some of the brave women who have fought and triumphed.  This is Sara’s story, as told by Sara herself, and her husband Steve.

 

Sara:

When my mother was 37, she was diagnosed with breast cancer.  As I approached 30, my surveillance process became more rigorous. I learned about BRCA1 and BRCA2 – tumor suppressing genes. A mutation in either of these genes gives the carrier up to an 87% of breast cancer during her lifetime. In March of 2010, I tested for the BRCA mutation as a precaution.

Steve:

I was in Atlanta when Sara called me crying. The test was meant to be a formality – she wasn’t supposed to have the mutation. But she did, and I was a thousand miles away.

Sara:

My choice was between a lifetime of surveillance or a lengthy and painful procedure. I would either live in a constant state of anxiety, waiting for cancer to strike with each test result, or undergo a double mastectomy. It was simultaneously the hardest and easiest decision I’ve ever made.

Steve:

Sara went in for her first surgery that July, about 6 months after we got married. I slept in the hospital for two days without a second thought. These moments are what the phrase “for better or for worse” refers to. Though “worse” came sooner than expected.

Sara:

Steve’s silly 4AM emails from the hospital lounge and the thought of him folded into a loveseat half his size helped me through the most pain I’ve ever endured. No matter how much research I had done, nothing could prepare me for the intensity of the physical and emotional recovery.

Steve:

People constantly tell me that Sara made a “radical” or “bold” decision. I saw it as a no brainer. She had an 87% chance of developing breast cancer at some point in her life. Having the surgery now instead of having the surgery AND chemo later just made sense. What she did was startlingly brave, but it wasn’t radical.

Sara:

The next 12 months consisted of healing, six expansion procedures, reconstruction surgery, more healing, a final reconstruction, and healing again. I am happy to wake up each morning without cancer as my first thought. The fear of cancer has been replaced by my love for my husband and our dog, and my excitement about our next adventure.

Steve:

The amazing thing that the surgery did was not just heal Sara, but it gave us a new perspective. We’re now living instead of letting life happen to us. It’s difficult to capture the emotional roller coaster of the last 18 months in 400 words. But if I had to choose one, I would use the word “family.”

 

FORCE – Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered, is a non profit organization that is specifically dedicated to those with a BRCA mutation or family history of cancer. To support this incredible organization, click here.

 

To find out more about Sara, visit her website – Me, Redone.