Breast screening as a BRCA Carrier can be stressful but I’m here to share my experiences and tips to help you!
Screening as a BRCA Carrier
I began annual breast screening when I was 25 years old because I am a BRCA carrier. MRI’s are deemed the safest and most accurate imaging option at a young age.
Following each annual MRI, I met with a genetic oncologist to review results, complete physical exams and discuss preventive planning.
Although breast cancer was often on my mind, it was hard on me each time my annual MRI rolled around. I felt like a ticking time bomb. Each time I sat waiting in the cancer clinic, I mentally prepared myself for the worst.
Looking back, I can see that I didn’t have enough information and guidance, making it difficult not to wonder about all the what-ifs.
What if I would have taken preventive action sooner? What if I hadn’t relied so heavily on Google for answers?
What I learned
There was A LOT I did not know about breast cancer, but my biggest regret is not advocating for myself enough.
To begin with, I found a lump in my left breast a year before my cancer diagnosis. This lump was in the same breast and spot where my cancer was later discovered.
Since I didn’t advocate stronger early on, I can’t help wondering if my cancer was dismissed too early, and how different my treatment could have been.
My advice to you as a BRCA carrier:
You must be your strongest advocate
Your concerns should never be dismissed
Speak up and ask questions if you are not receiving enough information
Get a second opinion if you aren’t satisfied
See my 10 questions to ask your genetic specialist to help you gain information.
What to Expect
High-risk screening as a BRCA carrier can be stressful, but remember you are not alone.
I was nervous for my first MRI because I did not know what to expect, but I can honestly say they aren’t that bad.
Before each scan they inject a dye to highlight cancer masses. The MRI itself is a little irritating, because of the loud humming noise, but wearing ear plugs makes it tolerable.
For me, the toughest part of the MRI was being alone in the machine, because my mind would wander. Meditating, or repeating a mantra can help steady your mind.
Visit www.breastcancer.org for more informing about what to expect during breast cancer screenings.
There was A LOT I did not know about breast cancer and my biggest regret is not advocating for myself enough!
A year before my cancer diagnose I found a lump in my left breast. This lump was in the same breast and spot as my cancer was later discovered.
Because I didn’t advocate strong enough I will always be left wondering if my cancer was dismissed too early.