BRCA Update {Personal Reflections}

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)

MUST KNOW:

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

to

the mutant genes

of our

DNA.

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.

Read more posts from my BRCA journey here.

Peace to you right where you are.

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9 Comments

  1. May 7, 2016 / 11:27 am

    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

    • May 7, 2016 / 7:07 pm

      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

    • May 7, 2016 / 7:07 pm

      thanks for reading, lovely mary ann.

  2. May 8, 2016 / 2:30 pm

    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:)

    • May 8, 2016 / 10:49 pm

      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!

  3. May 9, 2016 / 12:33 am

    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.

    Xx
    Dore

  4. May 9, 2016 / 12:02 pm

    I'm Chris Kok, Video Productions at Marana High School. My wife had breast cancer which was already in the stage IV and the doctor said we needed a miracle for her to be cured of the cancer. But for grace over my family a miracle happened when we learnt about Cannabis Oil, she has been on the treatment for the past 3 months and the result was tremendous as the Hemp Oil has cured the Cancer. If you have any cancer problem, chronic diseases, diabetes or any related dangerous diseases, please contact Dr. Louis Pierre via: louispierre325@gmail.com

    Regards,
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  5. May 10, 2016 / 4:53 pm

    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,
    xo
    Leslie

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