Quote of the Day: “Man does not simply exist, but always decides what his existence will be, what he will become in the next moment.” Viktor Frankel
My younger sister, Emily, also a carrier of the BRCA 1 gene, had surgery yesterday to remove all her breast tissue. She is 32 years old. She underwent 12 and 1/2 hours of surgery and will be in recovery mode for 6-8 weeks. This might seem like drastic measures to some people to prevent breast cancer because it’s not certain that you will get breast cancer with this gene but that would be coming from someone who has never had the disease. If you’ve had breast cancer, having a mastectomy at 32 would be a much better choice than going through cancer treatment. I’m grateful that we found out that this gene existed in our family so that my sisters could be spared the cancer ordeal and I’m so proud of them for taking the steps to protect themselves. I was worried about Emily yesterday and feel so sad when I think of her having to go through this but I know she will rebound. She is such a kind-hearted, patient soul. She visited me many times while I was going through chemo and I really appreciated that.
I was having a discussion with some family members this week about a procedure that can be done to check if the embryo is carrying the BRCA 1 mutation. Some said they would want to do the procedure so they could prevent a child from having to live with this mutation and some thought it shouldn’t be done for the BRCA 1 gene but was ok to do for something like Cystic Fibrosis. I thought it was so interesting to make that distinction, ok to do for one but not for the other, perhaps because one seemed more drastic or life-threatening than the other. It’s pretty amazing the technology exists for that procedure and I don’t blame or feel judgmental at all towards someone who makes that choice. My perspective is hard because it means my life would not have been since I carry the gene, or my sister’s lives or 1 percent of the population. And so I ponder this situation and feel grateful for life, grateful for the day the PA cautioned me to get a mammogram every year because I had a sister with breast cancer, grateful for an astute mammogram technician who saw something unusual in my lymph nodes, grateful that I got the chance to be here on this earth for 53 years and hopeful that the cancer was extinguished, never to return.
This has been a very busy week where blog writing, piano practicing and grandchildren tending went by the wayside. That’s too busy for me because I love spending time doing all those things and would give up everything if it meant I could only do the last one. On Tuesday, the Service Scholar Banquet was held and about 35 students received the award. This year the banquet was much easier than the last for me, I wasn’t dealing with the effects of chemo and I had hair. I love the students who are seniors this year and couldn’t help but feel that I had missed out by not being at Skyline as their advisor and teacher. I love my free time but I also love building relationships. One of the directors wrote me the nicest note perhaps I have every received. I have watched this student go from being a shy, protective girl to an assured, beautiful, competent leader. I watched as both the girls who serve as student directors over Service Scholar took charge of the night, reading each scholar’s bios and conducting themselves with such poise. It’s like watching a bird fly out of the nest for the first time, knowing they have all the skills needed to make it in this world.
Best girls in all the world! Smita, Whitney, Analisa, Joanie, Melissa and Katie at Service Scholar Banquet