Up until this year, I had no idea that HBOC week was even a "thing". I had no clue there was something as "Previvor Day". Honestly, I hadn't even heard of the term "Previvor". It's amazing what can happen within a matter of a year. It's amazing that ones life can change so much. Its amazing that one word can go from being nonexistent in your vocabulary to something that you now use as one of the top five words to describe yourself. This year, everything seems so much more meaningful. The mornings I wake up, the hugs I give and receive, the days and nights I spend holding my children...I could go on forever. But, even more so, my Mother has become more meaningful...as if that was possible, right? This year, I really got to see just how strong and amazing my Mom was. I am going through 1/4 of what she did. I only had a mastectomy and reconstruction...she had cancer. My mother had surgery after surgery, chemo, radiation, years of medicine, and the knowledge that there was something in her body that would eventually kill her. I got the chance to take preventative measures. I got the chance to have the surgery and skip the really, really hard part. I don't care what anyone else says, as I can only talk for myself on this...but, being a previvor isn't nearly as difficult as being a survivor. I may take heat for it, but, it's my view. I cannot say Previvors have it easy, at all. Most of us know death all too well, most of us don't enjoy the panic when we feel a lump, most of us didn't feel excited that having surgery or taking medicine was our best chance to avoid cancer. It's unfortunate, choosing to have the surgery...because, well, the other choice really wasn't a better alternative. I don't want people to think this is an easy choice, having a prophylactic bilateral mastectomy. I made a choice to have surgery because, if I didn't, I could have been in my Moms shoes.
The thing is, if we don't talk about this, if we don't shout it from the roof tops, then where will our family members be? If the term "Previvor" was more known, maybe my Mom could have been one. Maybe, if National HBOC Week was bigger, more well known, then my own Mother would be alive today. I can't always hang on this thought though, because I cannot fix the past. What I can do is make a difference now. You can make a difference. Make this week known, make HBOC known, make the word "Previvor" as common as the word survivor. I can only wish that more people could become Previvors as opposed to survivors. I want more people to be able to have the surgery and skip that really bad stuff that comes with having cancer. Of course, having breast cancer doesn't mean death...but, if we could spare more people from having to go through the chemo, radiation, years of drugs...then why don't we? Why can't we get the word out more? What are we doing? We may not be able to cure cancer, and HBOC may only be a "small" percentage of people that get breast/ovarian cancer, but surely we can make a huge change in our cancer community. Thankfully, I believe we are on our way. The women I have met along my own journey have great big voices, and I think we're getting somewhere. So, this week, and every week, I'll keep shouting from my rooftop. I finally realize this is what I was meant to do (beyond being a mother...I always knew I was meant to be a mommy). I hate that the events in my life have brought me here, but, I was meant to be right where I am. I thank God for it. I know it sounds twisted, to thank God for this, but I do...because, I would have never learned the term "previvor". In the bigger picture, maybe I am supposed to be here, to help others, to protect them from what I watched my own mother endure. Maybe this was all in the plan. I won't lie when I say it seems "unfair" that this is how things happened, but, as unfair as it is, maybe I can make a difference, so someone else doesn't have to feel that very "unfair" feeling when their loved one is diagnosed with cancer. If you know someone that was diagnosed at a young age, that has multiple family members with cancer, has men in their family with breast cancer or even prostate cancer, or any other warning signs that come with HBOC, please ask them to do some research or have genetic testing. It's scary...for sure, but even more scary than taking the first steps is when it's too late to change it, when it's too late to be proactive. So, if you can, help me and others make this week well known...it could absolutely save lives.