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
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%).
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:
DEEPLY DISAPPOINTED faces.
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
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:
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.
Read more posts from my BRCA journey here.
Peace to you right where you are.