Prevention of breast cancer can be just as much of a battle as dealing with it.
One out of every 500 women in the United States has a mutated BRCA 1 or 2 gene, meaning that they are at double the risk for developing breast cancer by age 70.
Kimberly was one of those women. After getting herself tested, she learned that she had inherited a BRCA mutation from her mother.
“The BRCA mutation is an inherited, deleterious mutation that significantly increases a woman’s risk of developing breast and ovarian cancers.” -Dr. John Rimmer
Upon learning that they have a harmful BRCA mutation, women are faced with a choice.
Some women simply choose to do nothing. The mutation does not necessarily guarantee that you’ll develop breast cancer and, empowered by their genetic knowledge, they decide to wait and see what happens. Others choose hormonal therapy and some women choose to have elective preventative surgery to remove the breast tissue that is at risk of developing cancer; otherwise known as a mastectomy.
It’s a difficult decision to make, but Kimberly knew that she wanted to live her life free from fear. Free from the nagging thought in the back of her mind that she might develop breast cancer. So she courageously decided to take action.
Kimberly had already watched her mother go through breast cancer treatment and had seen the pain and trials that the disease can cause and she knew that she didn’t want that for herself or her family for a second time.
There’s nothing easy about staring down the face of breast cancer surgery, even if it is elective and Kimberly knew that she had some decisions to make. She knew that she didn’t want breast cancer, but she also didn’t want the surgery or the effects of it to limit her for the rest of her life.
So she started researching and asking about surgeries that wouldn’t leave visible scars and allow her to maintain her physical appearance.
“If you don’t ask, you’ll never know. I found out everything that I could about cancer and surgeries and what I can and can’t do.”
The courage to act
After talking with her doctor, Kimberly learned about the Hidden Scar procedure. A surgery that would completely remove the mutated BRCA gene and risk of breast cancer from her body while still allowing her to look at herself in the bathroom mirror and not be reminded every day that she had a bilateral mastectomy.
For some women, scars are a badge of honor and the sign of a battle won. But Kimberly knew that she didn’t want them.
When Kimberly learned about that option, she took it and had her preventative mastectomy and she hasn’t looked back since.
Life after preventative breast cancer surgery
Since her surgery, Kimberly has tried to live her life to the absolute fullest. Enjoying friends, family, relationships, adventures and time and time again, she’s thankful that she can do it all without the nagging fear of breast cancer.
On top of that, she appreciates the ability it gives her to be more private about her procedure if she wants to.
Deciding to take action against the risk of breast cancer is not easy and Kimberly knows it first-hand, so she is passionate about sharing her story with other women in her same situation.
She wants other women who have learned that they have the BRCA mutation to understand that removing the risk of breast cancer doesn’t mean that the rest of your life needs to change; you just need to ask the right questions.
“If you really don’t want scars or if you don’t want people to know or anyone to see it, you need to figure out a way to do that. And if that’s asking 100 questions to 15 doctors, that’s what you have to do.”
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