It all started with my friend getting cancer the same week we discovered my gene mutation.
F*CK CANCER! Its ugly, mean, as charming as an eel, and a bad banana with a greasy black peel. But my friend is a badass and no longer has cancer, so that's the happy ending of that story.
But, because my friend had cancer, she had an oncologist. My friend told her about my misadventures with BRCA2+ and so her doctor asked me to come in for a consultation.
Now, this oncologist is amazing. Model tall and lean and looks 30 but is over 40. Turns out, she is the wife to the neurosurgeon who performed my dad's spine surgery a couple of years ago (they don't share the same name, so it took Google to reveal this info to me). What a small medical world we live in!
The oncologist said I had three options: 1.) DO NOTHING. Clearly since I had already been tested, received mammograms and MRIs, and was meeting with the doctor I have already passed the DO NOTHING stage; 2.a.) CONTINUE MONITORING. Sounds great, but mammograms and MRIs twice a year is not a safe long-term solution for the next 50?? years of my life; 2.b.) TOMAXIFEN. This is a daily dose of estrogen blockers with extreme side effects. Again, not a great long-term solution; 3.) BILATERAL MASTECTOMY & OOPHORECTOMY. Get rid of all the bits that have the increased risk of cancer, this would include breasts and ovaries.
[Let me take this time to just point out that I haven't really talked about the Ovarian Cancer piece of this BRCA2 mutation. This is only because I have no familial history of ovarian cancer and also, the BRCA2 risk is later onset ovarian cancer, so the threat is not immediate. Also, I am 30 and don't want to go through menopause, so in the meantime I am getting ultrasounds and blood work done every six months. Don't worry, there will be a post about that too!]
This consultation led to referrals to a breast surgeon (SCARY) and an oncological gynecologist (a ladybits cancer doctor...even SCARIER!).
So then I got to meet the breast surgeon, Dr. Rable.
My husband went with me.
I cried and Dr. Rable told me she understood my fears and handed me tissues.
She echoed the oncologist's options and told me directly that if I were her daughter she would urge me to proceed with my plans to get a bilateral mastectomy as soon as possible. Her office is clean, comfortable, and calming. Her staff are polite, compassionate, and good humored. I couldn't be happier with this collaboration with her. I am confident in her abilities as a physician and in her support in my choices for taking such a drastic step to ending the cycle of breast cancer in my family.
It has almost been a year since I first met Dr. Rable. I love that she takes the time to return my phone calls after office hours after I call with a laundry list of questions. When I called her concerned after a plastic surgeon appointment that didn't go so well, she got me a third consult with a different doctor and was there to cheer me on once that doctor decided I would be a great candidate for a new procedure that hasn't really been done in Oklahoma.
A fun side story: My mother's breast surgeon in Tulsa told my mother that I should call a Dr. Rable if I'm serious about my surgery. She came from Tulsa and has a great reputation among other breast surgeons as the goto doctor with an interest in the breast cancer gene mutations. Well, that's neat!
In a perfect world, this process will go smoothly and I will live until the end of my days without every getting breast cancer. Sadly, this means that Dr. Rable will only be a part of one chapter of my life!
Christina Mallory Chicoraske - a 30 year old, 4th generation Okie, diagnosed BRCA2+ and undergoing a prophylactic bilateral mastectomy. This is the tale of my journey with hopes to inform and encourage other young women searching for answers after a BRCA1/2 gene mutation discovery.