Next week I’m getting a preventive double mastectomy due to my BRCA gene mutation that puts me at an 87% risk for breast cancer.
Below are some of the most common questions I get asked about my decision to amputate a seemingly healthy body part.
1. Whoa, you’re getting your boobs removed?! Aren’t you too young to get breast cancer?
Breast cancer does not discriminate when it comes to age. Women that carry the BRCA gene are also predisposed to get it earlier in life. My mom was diagnosed at 37 (she died from cancer at 51). I’ve heard of women getting it in their early 20’s. Better too early than too late.
2. You’re getting a DOUBLE mastectomy? Why not a single?
Yes, I want to reduce my risk as much as possible. If I leave one normal breast, I still have about a 43% chance of getting breast cancer. I would still have to do biannual MRI’s and mammograms on that remaining breast which would defeat part of the purpose of getting a mastectomy.
Also, I personally want my boobs to match, but that’s just me being vain.
3. Can’t you just reduce your risk by eating raw organic food and having positive thoughts?
Maybe. But it doesn’t affect the 87% chance of me getting breast cancer. I have a genetic mutation that I was born with. I can drink kale, do yoga, and constantly think positive thoughts and still get diagnosed. Its hard to fight your own genetic makeup.
4. Isn’t this just a fad cause Angelina Jolie started?
No. A fad is “the Rachel” haircut or Pogs.
If Angelina’s decision encourages more women who are BRCA positive or at high risk to get mastectomies, more lives will be saved. Believe it or not, celebrities are human with the same health risks as the rest of us. If this is a “trend”, I’m happy there’s finally a trend that’s doing something positive and saving lives instead of just being being a pricy handbag or questionable haircut.
5. Are you getting reconstruction?
Yes, I’m getting implants. Some women don’t get reconstruction and that’s fine too. It’s a personal decision and everyone will feel differently about it. I personally like having cleavage to catch stray snacks.
6. How big are you going?
I’m trying to stay the same size as my original breasts because I think my natural ones are awesome. I don’t want to go bigger or smaller.
7. Really?! Come on, go bigger!
No, it’s my body last I checked.
8. Are you keeping your nipples?
Yes. Some women don’t keep their nipples because keeping them does increase the risk of cancer slightly. Again, this is a personal decision and every woman feels differently about it. Women that don’t keep their nipples often get awesome 3D nipple tattoos look real and often better looking than a lot of nipples I’ve seen at the gym locker room.
9. I’m a guy, so I have nothing to worry about, right?
Nope. Men are just as likely as women to carry the BRCA gene. Male carriers have different risks to worry about, like a higher prostate cancer risk AND a higher breast cancer risk. Yes, men can get breast cancer too. Also, a lot of women think they don’t have the gene cause they don’t see many people in their family with breast cancer, but it could be passed down on the paternal side. Men are not immune.
10. But isn’t this kinda drastic? Your dad died of brain cancer, are you gonna remove your brain too?
Not all cancers are genetically linked. To someone that hasn’t lost a parent or sibling to a genetically linked cancer, it may seem hard to understand why I want this surgery to be behind me. I want to a long, cancer-free life because my parents didn’t get that luxury. I don’t have living parents, or children, or even a boyfriend that needs me to be around for the while. I’m doing this for me. It’s my choice and I’m privileged to have the choice. Many women that get diagnosed with breast cancer don’t get the chance to make that choice. My mother didn’t, and had she had a mastectomy at my age, she may be here today holding my hand as I come out of the operating room.
87% chance is a lottery I don’t want to play in. I have a long life to live and no room for cancer in it.
I also look forward to getting old with boobs that don’t sag, but that’s just me being vain again.