Wednesday, May 28, 2008

My BRCA Support System

One thing that was brought up a lot at the conference was the importance of having a good support system, so today I'd like to talk about mine and invite you to think about yours.

First there's my dad (and I list him first because he's hands down the most important person in my life). We're very close since my mom died when I was 3, leaving him to raise me. We always had a great relationship growing up. My brothers were much older and left the house for college when I was still young, so from then on it was dad and me. You can definitely call me a daddy's girl. He's a wonderful man - smart, funny, insightful, helpful, always there for me through everything, sometimes harsh but I can always tell it's because he loves me and he always apologizes later.
He's the one who had me take the test in the first place, because he's a gyno and very up on women's health issues, plus we had a feeling something ran in our family. And he's been great ever since, helping me schedule appointments and contacting doctors and just gathering as much information as he can for me.
There was one moment at the conference that was really hard - there was an older man there who was BRCA positive and his daughter tested positive as well. He was talking about his fears, and one of them was (and he choked up while saying this) his daughter dying before him. I couldn't help but cry thinking of my own father and how hard this news must have hit him considering he watched my mom die and saw how it affected our family. But I think we were extremely strong then and we'll continue to be strong now and through whatever happens.

Then there's my stepmom, who is just wonderful. She came with me to the FORCE conference because she, like my father, is helping me gather information and learn all I can. She's a great person all around and I know she'll always be there for the family.

Then there's my boyfriend. Now... I know some of you might think "this girl is only 22, how serious can it be?" But I feel like he is "the one", and I'm not someone to jump to those heavy conclusions very quickly. He's been great about the whole thing.
After I got my test results, there was a night where I was freaking out and talking to him on the phone. He didn't say much, and I didn't expect him to. But the next day, I received an email from him saying that he knew I was worrying about alot, but him loving me wasn't something I had to worry about. He said he loved me for me and not for my boobs or my genes, and that was enough to make me cry all over again! I knew I found a good one, and if BRCA is going to make me settle down and have kids earlier than I expected, I hope it'll be with him.

Phew. SO that was just a wonderful little love-fest wasn't it? Even if you don't have a dad who's a gyno or a boyfriend or family members that help you research, it's crucial to find SOMEONE to be a support person who you can talk to, who will help you through hard times, and who will be neutral and speak reason when you may be freaking out. They stressed this a lot at the conference and I agree.

And now I ask... who makes up YOUR support system?


pinkribbonsally said...

When dealing with anything regarding breast cancer - a positive genetic test, biopsy, results etc... you must have a team of people to lean on for support. For me it has always been my mom. She has been a rock during all of my personal uncertainty. She just knows without my saying what my feelings are at the moment.
My husband has always been able to lend a great scientific approach as well. Being a scientist allows him to understand issues without a detailed blow-by-blow.
I also have a group of women I call my sisters. We have all been affected by this disease and have been there for one another.
All of these individuals make up my personal breast cancer army...they help me in battle. ;)

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for sharing your life. I am also 22 and cannot imagine some of the decisions facing you. Although I have a family history of breast cancer, I was fortunate enough to find that we do not have the BRCA genes in my family. My husband, on the other hand, does. Both his mother and his aunt are carriers and we do not yet know if he is as well.

Keep sharing your strength with the rest of us!