Almost all of the women on my dad’s side of the family have been diagnosed with breast and/or ovarian cancer. So once my dad tested positive for the BRCA 1 mutation, it was an Oprah moment in my household. But instead of, you get a car, it became, you get a test! I tested positive for the BRCA 1 genetic mutation at 22 years old, and in January of 2017, I chose to have a preventative double mastectomy. I was 24 years old and felt completely anxious, alone, and afraid.
When I looked for support or guidance online, I was very discouraged to see that everything was very negative and many of the support groups that existed left me feeling worse than before I had gotten there.
Although terrified and unsure about the decision I was making, I went through with the preventative double mastectomy. After my double mastectomy, I felt empowered, strong, and sexy! I also felt extremely grateful that I had this choice and was able to make this decision preventatively, unlike so many women in my family before me. I wanted other women to know that they too could feel like this. I also worried about my youngest sister Cammy, who hasn’t been tested for the mutation yet because she is only 17. I knew that if she tested positive for the mutation, I wanted her to have a better experience than I did. So I made it my mission to create resources to help them navigate decisions surrounding their health and their bodies and empower them so these decisions don’t have to feel so scary and overwhelming.
I started sharing my experience on Instagram and I quickly realized that there are thousands of other women who felt similarly to me, and together we have created an amazing community online and in person. We call each other breast friends or Breasties for short! Through Instagram, I was able to meet Bri, Allie, and Jess – and together we have built The Breasties, a nonprofit organization that puts together free events and weekend wellness retreats and online support around the world for women affected by breast and gynecological cancers.
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