BRCA Update {Personal Reflections}

May 07, 2016

Aligning ourselves with the Fannings and Olsens?

If that is what it takes to keep the genetic mutation
known as BRCA and the prophylactic options
available to women on your radar, then
yes, m'am.

Three years back, my sister and I were diagnosed
with the BRCA2 genetic mutation and opted
for full hysterectomies and mastectomies
as our mother battled breast cancer.

(The mutation is rare and paired with our family history,
increased our breast and ovarian cancer risk to 87%). 

april 2016

Tonight I returned from a visit to Arizona where
my mom continues to battle excruciating pain
and debilitating effects of arthritis, 
breast cancer, colon cancer, and melanoma.
photo by melissa james

It has been a challenging journey for our entire family,
yet we have felt grace raining down every step of the way,
teaching us higher love, helping us let go, and ushering us
into new and more beautiful transformation.

What a gift it was to have each other during
that distressing season we sisters tested positive.

We are best friends, sisters, lookalikes, and mutants.

Everywhere we roam, people
(even normally shy people)
are you twins?
We have been known to lie and respond "yes"
since if we do not, the reaction is always unfortunate:

Further delays with interrogation
about age difference, etc.

So when we chose to have our hysterectomies,
mastectomies, and reconstruction in tandem with the
same surgeons, you can imagine how it made a scene.

Although we were approached by several
media outlets to share our journey publicly,
we didn't feel up to the scrutiny at the time.
It was a challenging era of surgery
after surgery while watching our mother
endure chemo and radiation.

My sis and I love the fashion ballsy-ness,
sassy sisterhood, and tenderlovelybond
of the Olsen twins because although
our birthdays are different,
we sense a kinship with them. 

More than ever,
we feel blessed
to be bonded
from blonde manes
the mutant genes
of our

It's hard for some folks to fathom
sisters who are not rivals; who occasionally
become irritated with the other but who
have formed a mutual admiration society.

We are the Over the Hill Olsens and even have
a third baby sister like their Elizabeth
(who is taller than us and sports lovelier hair).

Breast and ovarian cancers are deadly in our family so
what a blessing that current research and advances
in medicine made it possible for us to take
life changing steps for better health.

We remain at risk for pancreatic cancer and
melanoma, but we are warriors with faith and hope.

remember us misbehaving at the Elysian?

Now that we sport matching:
fake boobs,
bikini area scars
(a beautiful holy trinity of scars),
and desires to inhibit cancer cell growth,
we have essentially become
the twins we pretended to be.

photo by melissa james

Life is more precious now.

Don't put off scheduling your mammogram
or OB-GYN appointment...early detection
is your friend, and even if it's bad news,
you're in good company and there
are wonderful treatment options.

Peace to you right where you are.

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  1. Dear Michele - your family, your Mom, your sisters, and your story are all beautiful. I can feel your strength and bond of love all around each of you. Wise and thoughtful words to all women and so graciously and openly shared. I wish every bit of hope and peace to your family and truly believe love is a fuel that strengthens this. You are a warrior and I deeply admire your courage. Happy to hear you are back safe and sound from your AZ trip and hope you had a wonderful time. Thank you Michele...just simply thank you. JoanMarie

    1. thanks for your kindness, joanmarie. a lovely package greeted me when i arrived home, and i look forward to celebrating your new venture with you. xox

  2. Replies
    1. thanks for reading, lovely mary ann.

  3. Oh wow this gave me chills and has me all teary. What a beautiful and poignant post and what a way to honor your mother, your sister(s), motherhood and sacrifice....beautifully done Michele. I must share this on my next Seven on Sunday if you are OK with that? You are fearless and find the beauty and silver lining no matter is thrown your way..your family is blessed to have you. I can feel the love radiating off of the computer screen, a bond that will never ever be broken. It's a beautiful things. Praying for sunnier days for your family, improved health and peace.

    A very Happy Mother's Day to you my friend:)

    1. happy mother's day, tina. i am grateful to be a part of a tribe of strong, independent, intelligent women who love and accept me just as i am. i am more than happy for you to share this!

  4. Strong brave warriors you fanning Girls are!
    And a brave rich life lesson for all of us to pay attention to bravely.

    Yes what strong genes bond you ladies together, best of them BEAUTY.


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  6. Michele this was such a moving post. So uplifting and yet I am so sorry to hear of your mother's continual health battles. I remember reading your posts during this period and marveling at your family's inner strength and the sisterly bonds you talk about today. I will continue to keep your mom in my prayers, keep us posted on her health.
    I just returned from a visit home because my Dad found out his resting heart rate was in the low forties and he needed a pacemaker asap. It was an exhausting little experience that turned out well--thank you Lord. So I'm back trying to catch up on life. BTW--thanks for reading my last post which was a hot mess of words that never should have been published. I ended up deleting half of it and learned a lesson. Never hit the publish button when you're on the way to the airport hahaha
    your humble and neurotic blogger pal,


Your comments add to the beauty...thanks in advance for your kindness.


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