I am 33 years old, and I am a carrier of the BRCA2 genetic mutation. My Previvor journey started when my sister’s routine hysterectomy revealed that she had ovarian cancer. At her doctor’s suggestion, my sister was tested to see if she had a BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation. Unfortunately, she did. So, while she began her journey of fighting the ovarian cancer and getting a PBM, I began my journey to see if I had the same genetic mutation that caused her cancer. There was a 50/50 chance that I carried it too. The next time I visited my OBGYN for my yearly exam, I talked to him about it. After he reviewed my family history and asked me some questions, he finally asked if I wanted to have the test done, right there in his office. I was in panic mode as I realized how much testing positive would mean for my family and me. I wanted to know, I needed to know, so that I could plan for my future. I have two daughters, and ultimately it was my love for them that made me go forward with the test that day.
It took two weeks for the test results to come back. After waiting for what seemed like forever, nothing could have prepared me for the news that confirmed that I was BRCA2+, just like my sister. NOT the news I wanted to hear. I cried for what seemed like days… I prayed to God to seek guidance as to what to do. And I asked Him to just give me peace with my decision. When I felt like I was ready for the next step, I found an oncologist to work with. After reviewing my test results and family history, she recommended that I take steps to prevent cancer because my risk was so high. It wasn’t a matter of if I would get cancer, but WHEN I would. I had already had a hysterectomy but chose to have my remaining ovary removed as well as my cervix in December 2011. I also made plans to have a PBM with expanders on June 1st of 2012.
In May 2012, I had my first pre-op appointments. I was completely at ease and relaxed, but by my June 1st surgery date, I was a NERVOUS WRECK—who wouldn’t be, right? The surgery lasted six hours and I was told that it went well and there was no cancer present. When I woke up, I was sore, screaming, and extremely scared. A big dose of IV meds helped me calm down and sleep until it was time to go home. When I was more alert, I felt my chest and examined the new me. My new breasts were hard and covered in bandages and had drains coming out of them. They weren’t pretty yet, and I had months of drains and fills before I’d be ready for my exchange surgery to get silicone implants. But the first big step was done. Waking up out of the anesthesia and post-op pain meds it hit me; it was done. I had done it. Tears poured down my cheeks. My daughters would not have to worry about their mom getting breast or ovarian cancer and dying because I had taken the first BIG step.
In August, I had a surgical washout due to a Seroma that had formed on my left side. The surgeons drained it and found no reason to take out the expanders. I felt great, but a few days later the Seroma came back on both sides. Fortunately, my PS decided that it was finally time to do the exchange. Not all doctors would agree to do this, but he said that it would probably help the thin skin that was being damaged by the rough expanders. Some women adjust well to the expansion process, but my skin was like paper and it was extremely painful.
On September 26th 2012 I had my third and final surgery—the exchange that replaced my expanders with silicone implants. I woke up after that surgery with soft squishy “foobs,” my surgical journey complete.
Since that last surgery, I’ve had no problems and have recovered wonderfully. I feel at peace with my decision. I feel good about why I did this. I feel empowered. I feel joy. I feel alive. My name is Leanna Kay. I am a Previvor, and I’m staying one.