Sunday, 30 October 2011

I AM BRIGHT PINK

Bright Pink and Fabulous!

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, so it is probably a little surprising that I am only just getting around to writing a post on the subject. I have struggled to find the right words. Breast Cancer has affected my life in a multitude of ways, its effects are profound, and so much could be said. It has been hard to figure out what I really what to say about this particular topic.

When I sit down and think about Breast Cancer; I think about the battles I have watched others fight against this disease (including both my Mother and Grandmother), and the profound affect the BRCA 1 mutation has had on my life. But my story always seems come back to fond memories spent with my Grandpa. Because although my Grandma fought her own battle against Breast Cancer and won, she was one of the unlucky 1 in 9 women who developed this disease strictly because she was a woman. The genetic link in my family actually comes from my Grandfather.

Grandpa was definitely my kindred spirit. Growing up we were like Frick and Frack. Two peas in a pod. Where ever Grandpa went I was sure to be found following close behind, hanging on his every word. I adored him and he doted hopelessly on me. We shared a love of baking, gardening, and nature. He taught me important life lessons about embracing life's triumphs and struggles whole heartily, and the value of possessing  inner strength and a charitable spirit. It has been 13 long years since I had to say goodbye to this amazing man, but not a day goes by that I don't recognize his influence in my daily life and think fondly of the time we spent together.

Grandpa and I were more alike then he will ever know, because both of my genetic mutations; the one responsible for my heart condition as well as BRCA 1 are linked back to him. I often find myself wondering how he would feel if he knew about our genetic history, and what he would think about the choices I am making. And I am confident that he would be proud. Because along with a few of his genes, he also passed on his fighting spirit. I, unlike the women in my family before me, will never wear the badge of honour as a Breast Cancer Survivor. Because I will never have to survive a diagnosis, struggle through chemo, radiation, and the battery of tests that go along with this disease. Instead today I stand up and FIGHT.  In the coming months I will undergo a bilateral mastectomy and reconstruction to preventatively treat my BRCA 1 diagnosis. I fight this battle, so I don't have to fight the war.

Breast Cancer is a strong, dangerous, and ugly disease that can beaten, but still does not have a cure. It leaves a lasting impression on all those who experience its wrath. And in my brief 26 years in this world, and within my own own small corner of this planet; I have watched three generations of women face this disease and battle it in their own way. Breast Cancer has become a very prominent fixture in my world over the last two years; during my mother's diagnosis, the revelation of our family's genetic link, and my own journey to treat this disease preventatively - but I am not alone. 23 400 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year, 5100 of them will be taken too soon from their families. Of the 1 in 9 women who will develop breast cancer 1 in 29 will die from it. One of my greatest hopes is that one day I can say that we have found a cure for this disease, and cure that is less evasive and less traumatic for the many women who are forced to take part in this war against their own bodies. I am incredibly lucky to have the knowledge and the options that I have, and for that I am grateful. I am part of the Bright Pink population who knows their history, has recognized their high risk status, remains vigilant against this disease, and chooses to act preventatively. Breast Cancer is beatable if it is detected and treated early; so know your history, recognize your risk, get screened, and above all... FIGHT!

Happy Breast Cancer Awareness Month!
Love Your Favourite Darwinian Fail,
Krysten