- I have the BRCA2 gene mutation, which increases my risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer.
- Because of my BRCA status, I get preventive screenings — but I recently fell behind in my care.
- While editing articles about breast cancer, I got a mammogram and found my own cancer early.
Growing up, I loved reading and writing. My parents were careful to teach my brother and me the value of money, but I also remember my dad telling me they’d never say no to buying me a new book. I wonder sometimes if he regretted this offer, the way I burned through them.
Words were my thing — whether I’d make a career working with them or not didn’t particularly matter. But when I took an elective in college working on the school’s literary journal and was made the fiction editor, there was no turning back. I fell in love with helping others make their work better.
I didn’t have a particular specialty until I learned in 2014 that I have the BRCA2 gene mutation, which means I have a higher chance than those without either the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutations of developing both breast cancer and ovarian cancer.
It was because of how I learned to advocate for myself in the healthcare arena — partially fighting to get preventive cancer screenings and partially to get care for my chronic migraines and depression — that I decided to focus my career. I got more serious about writing and editing in the health and wellness realm. It may have saved my life.
I had to learn to be my own best advocate
About 13% of those assigned female at birth will develop breast cancer over their lifetimes; in contrast, about 45% to 69% of those with the BRCA2 gene mutation will develop breast cancer by the time they’re 70 to 80. The risk of ovarian cancer is also increased; the general population develops ovarian cancer at a rate of about 1.2%, while those with the BRCA2 mutation get it at a rate of about 11% to 17%. (For both cancers, those with the BRCA1 mutation are at an even higher risk than those with the BRCA2 variant: about 55% to 72% for breast cancer, and about 39% to 44% for ovarian cancer.)
Because I’m still only 34 and the general recommendation for …….