Previvor’s Perspective – A Daughter’s Feelings

It was a year after I had tested positive for the BRCA2 gene mutation before I found out about the status of my three children. My oldest, my son, and my youngest daughter were both negative (huge relief). My middle daughter, Jenna, unfortunately tested positive for the same mutation I have. She is 23 years old now and is graduating from San Diego State University this May with her degree in Business Administration (I’m so proud of her!).  When I first told her I was positive, she felt worried and unsure about what this all meant for her. She immediately started doing research online to find out more about this unfamiliar diagnosis. Then, when she tested positive for the same BRCA2 gene mutation, she also became a previvor.

I had decided to proceed with the preventive surgeries (hysterectomy mastectomy) to reduce my risk of developing cancer. I think she felt relieved because she knew I was initially hesitant about getting them done. She had told me that she knew it would be difficult to lose my breasts, but compared to having cancer, the surgery didn’t seem like a bad option.  She knows I’m strong and I would be fine through the surgeries. She was really happy that I decided to get them done.

Jenna took me to the hospital for my breast surgery.  When she came to drive me home she was shocked to find me all bandaged up and a little out of it from the drugs.    It was honestly very scary for her to see me this way. At that moment, she realized that the surgery was a bigger deal than she had thought.  I could barely move for a few days and I was swollen and bruised. She was literally horrified at the sight of my stitches and the four drains hanging from my body collecting fluid.  This didn’t make me feel any better.  I looked terrible, but that’s just how surgery goes in the beginning, it’s not pretty.  I ended up healing beautifully; my scars aren’t even that noticeable now. This was a relief for Jenna to see.

It has been hard for her to process that she will have to go through all of this one day. She told me she feels pressure to have kids sooner rather than later. It really stresses her out, and I wish she didn’t have to worry about that. She is also considering surgery someday. She says she wants to do the breast surgery by the time she is 30 years old to maximize her risk reduction. We have both shared our BRCA2 status with our boyfriends, but I don’t think they really understand the magnitude or the reality of our situation. It’s a lot for them to process.

I know that Jenna feels blessed to know ahead of time so she can take action sooner. If my mom, her nana Charlotte, had known what we know now, she would still be with us. It hasn’t been easy, but I know Jenna agrees with my decisions and she is proud of the path I have taken to care for myself, so I could be here to take care of her and her siblings. I wish we didn’t have to deal with this, but we are not scared anymore.

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