Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Prophylactic Bilateral Mastectomy

So, I’m having a double mastectomy in two weeks.

WHAT?!

Is everything okay? (Yes, I’m healthy. No cancer. Praise the Lord.) What about everything going on with Thomas? When did you decide this? Why? Wait, what is a double mastectomy? What does recovery look like? Will you have reconstruction done? How are you feeling about all this? Are you scared? Will you blog about your journey? How can I help?

These are just a few of the usual questions I’ve received as we’ve told our friends and family the past few months. I had finally worked up the courage to hit "publish" on this post several weeks ago, but then everything happened with Thomas and I didn't want the seriousness of his situation to get buried under my upcoming surgery. Much to your surprise, I've actually been on this breast cancer prevention journey for quite some time now and this surgery has been planned since before Thomas was born (more on all of that below).

So anyway, I will attempt to cover all of those above questions and much more than you probably want to know about my boobs in this post. My hope in blogging my way through this experience is threefold: 1. To spread awareness and remind the ladies to check their tatas and get the genetic testing (BRCA1/BRCA2) done if breast cancer runs in your family! 2. Through this experience I’ve discovered it’s been somewhat difficult finding other women (especially moms with little kids) my age going through this so I hope to help someone else out there facing this big decision and crazy journey not feel so alone. Because I definitely feel alone at times even though I have the strongest support system, an amazing husband, wonderful friends, cheerleaders and more prayers than I could ever imagine coming my way. For all of that, I am extremely grateful. But until you’ve been faced with this decision, this journey, you can’t relate in certain ways and that is where you can begin to feel alone. And 3. Blogging is therapeutic for me and I’ve found so much encouragement from this wonderful community during some of the hardest times in my life. I debated whether or not I would share this journey I've been on for awhile now on the blog but with so much love and support we've received from you all, it felt weird hiding such a big life event from you. Plus, I wanted to explain my upcoming blog absence during my recovery.You know me, I tend to be an oversharer, so I don’t mind blogging about my boobs. Sorry, no pictures included! 

Okay, on to the details…

A little background. My mother, Caroline, lost her battle to breast cancer at the all-too-young age of 30, leaving behind a devastated husband and two little girls. Her mother lost her battle to breast cancer in her early 30’s as well. So I have been aggressively monitoring my cancer risk since I was 19 years old with annual and quarterly tests including 4-D mammograms, genetic tests, MRI’s, breast exams and more. Over the past decade I’ve been poked, scanned and tested more times than I care to count in an attempt to stay on top of my genetic predisposition to breast cancer.

Given my breast cancer risk, I’ve known this procedure was inevitable it was just a matter of when. For the longest time I felt invincible, protected by age I guess. However, as I quickly approach the age of my mom’s diagnosis my doctor’s concern has grown exponentially. Due to the aggressive nature of my mom’s cancer (she passed 6 months after diagnosis) my doctor carefully monitored me during my pregnancy with Thomas. I lived in fear (and had many nightmares) that I would get breast cancer during my pregnancy and would not be able to treat it until after he was born.

During this time my team of doctors used a very conservative risk model to calculate my chances of breast cancer – 40%. Each year that number rises significantly. I don't know about you, but when the weatherman says there's a 40% chance of rain I carry my umbrella! I am the complete opposite of a risk-taker!

The decision. I decided to move forward with the procedure when we were home in Florida earlier this year to celebrate Mother’s Day.  My mom found my baby book while cleaning out the attic and gave it to me. It was chock full of details I’d never known about myself – my birth weight, my first birthday party theme, a list of guests who attended my baptism, a locket of hair from my first haircut, an explanation of the scar across my hairline that I’ve always wondered about (teeter totter accident) and so much more. I am beyond grateful she kept such a meticulous diary of my and my sister’s lives. When I turned to the “first day of Kindergarten” page I lost it. Blank.

That night I laid awake thinking about the blank pages. I was five and Lindsey was three when Caroline died. There have been so many significant moments in my life that I’ve thought about what it would be like if she were present – losing my first tooth, my first breakup, prom, high school and college graduations, bid day, my engagement, my wedding, my pregnancies, meeting her grandbabies and so much more. That night I decided to no longer to let fear win. Matt and I made the decision right then that I was going to have a prophylactic bilateral mastectomy. And soon after Thomas was born.
Caroline -- before diagnosis
The options. Matt and I prayed, researched and discussed all the options with my doctors which range from aggressive prevention to early detection followed by treatment. My dad is currently battling stage 3 lung, brain, spine and adrenal gland cancer and my second (amazing) mom fought breast cancer last year too. I’ve seen firsthand how harsh the treatment of cancer can be on everyone involved and I wanted none of that for my family, especially my rock, Matt. With all of this considered the decision to have a preventative double mastectomy was easy.

I’m a little scared. Okay, maybe a lot scared. To be completely honest, there are many days that my emotions quickly ricochet from strong and positive to sad and worried. I really try to keep my best poker face in front of my friends and family but the truth is I have a lot of silent freak outs and breakdowns. During these difficult days I worry about things like…not having the option to breastfeed any future children I might have. Losing all of the feeling in my chest – forever. Matt having to take care of all of us for awhile. Not being able to care for my babies (especially with Thomas' contacts) during recovery. More medical bills. How will I handle the pain? I’m totally freaked out about the surgical drains and tissue expanders. Will I be self-conscious after reconstruction? It’s easy to fall into a rabbit hole of worry. 

But I’m grateful. Overall I feel incredibly blessed to have this rare opportunity to fight back before cancer can even begin. If my mother would have had this opportunity, I know she'd still be alive. And I know she would be proud of me for making this brave decision (especially during a time that we have so much going on). By choosing this surgery I am proactively reducing my breast cancer risk down to 1%. I can't wait to get past this surgery and never again have to live in fear of test results every six months. Or fight the breast cancer battle. I'll be around to watch my kids grow. And watch their kids grow. Celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary. And enjoy senior citizen discounts. 
Lots more of my previvor journey to come...
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118 comments:

  1. A friend of mine had this completed a few years back. She watched her mother die slowly to breast cancer. I say this is what a hero is - a person who steps up and takes on the challenge of saving their life before it is in peril. She also went forward and had a hysterectomy to ensure she would never develop other "female" cancers since the ovaries can be the bad guys. Are you going to do that as well? Prayers for you and your family for this scary yet amazing time. Way to take initiative, mama!

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  2. This made me cry. You are so brave and even though you don't know me I am so proud of you for making this decision, especially at a time when you have so much going on. I'm wishing you all the best for a speedy recovery! Your babies really do have a fantastic Mama! x

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  3. You are such a brave and caring young woman. I'll continue to pray for you and your family. Here's to growing old!!

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  4. You are such a strong woman!! I'm thinking of you and so proud of the decision you made for yourself and for your family!!! Sending all my love and prayers your way!

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  5. You are such a strong, brave, amazing woman! Good for you for taking charge in your health decisions. I wish you all the best in your recovery! Xo

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  6. My goodness, what a brave post about a brave decision. Praying for you and your fam while you're going through this. This is a great reminder for me to be proactive about my health, I want to be around to read your blog posts about senior citizen discounts one day :)

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  7. I can't imagine. My mom was adopted and we know very little about her family's medical hx. I have often worried about the what ifs. We serve a mighty God and like you, I pray to be around for years to come.

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  8. Sending prayers & well wishes your way!

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  9. You are so courageous and brave! Way to be proactive Mama and ensuring you'll always be there for your babies. I'll be praying for you during this journey, I'm sure you're terrified but God never lets us walk alone! He will be with you every step of this journey!

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  10. Wow gave me chills! What a brave and selfless decision you are making!!! Praying for your doctors, a quick recovery, and HEALTH for you! Xoxoxox

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  11. You are the strongest women with so much strength! I will add you to my prayer list!
    xo

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  12. You are strong, brave and the best mama and wife!!! xo

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  13. You are doing the right thing. I am currently recovering from a hysterectomy and it was the best medical decision I've ever made. It too was planned months in advance and I cannot tell you how many sleepless nights I had about that. I mention that because my husband offered me these words of wisdom as I worried about worrying, lol. He pointed out that this was how my mind was getting me ready for surgery and mentally prepared for that day. You are processing this subconsciously and that's a good thing. I even started dreaming about surgery the week before, so let that process happen! You will have to give in to your body's need to rest and heal-you have no other choice! That was the hardest part for me. I am a "do-er" and you seem like one too :) Good luck to you!!!

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  14. What courage you have- such a brave choice! Will send lots more prayers your way! XO

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  15. What an amazing post!! You are such a wonderful example for women everywhere. Sending you prayers.

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  16. Thanks for sharing this. I'm a young cancer survivor so I understand the difficulty of surgery, chemotherapy, recovery, etc. I think you're making a brave decision. A few months after my remission my Mom was diagnosed with breast cancer and she was aggressive and got the same surgery you are. I'm so glad she did it and so thankful to still have her with us. I will be praying for you!

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  17. You are so brave and strong! My mom chose to have a double mastectomy after she was diagnosed with breast cancer 4 yrs ago. She wanted the most aggressive treatment with also included radiation and chemo. And today, I'm going for my first mammogram for early detection. I will be praying for you during this journey!

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  18. i am just SO proud of you mama... proud of you for being proactive, an advocate, a true role model, and an all around person i am honored to know!!! i can't imagine the emotions of all you're going through, but you've got a TON of loved ones cheering you on from near and far and i will be praying hard!! love you OXOX

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  19. I started following your blog after Caroline had the SIDS scare. I have been watching your family expand since then. I am impressed how you and your hubby have handled each new challenge with grace and determination. I am wishing you all the best as you meet this next challenge head on. All the best from a fellow Mom in FL.

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  20. Christina I cannot even imagine all of your emotions. I'm so proud of you to make this brave decision and at such a young age! I think most of your fears will go away once you have the surgery. Even all your post surgery fears. The drains won't be bad at all. They should just be little bulbs with a long hose. They will be easy to take care of. I pray for you and your family during this rollercoater journey, along with all of your other journies.

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  21. In tears for you, mama. I didn't know that your mom passed away from breast cancer - and I think it's amazing that you are letting her legacy encourage and guide you to be proactive about fighting your predisposition to breast cancer before it begins. I've known three - and three too many - young moms pass away in the last few months (all 30 or younger and one of them from breast cancer), and don't want to see any more sweet babies lose their mamas. Praying for you and thinking about you guys as you face this surgery. I know how scary it is! My husband's grandmother JUST had it done a couple of months ago and she is doing great, so I know you will get through it beautifully!!! Hugs!!!

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  22. Wow, Christina. I am so inspired by you. SO inspired. The story about your baby book has me a mess this morning. Good on for you being educated, involved, and proactive about your own healthcare. Will keep you in my thoughts and prayers throughout your surgery and recovery!

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  23. You're so brave and a total inspiration. Thanks for sharing your journey. It's so important for women to be educated about this!

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  24. You are such a good mom! As a mom to three little ones, if I were in your shoes I would do the same thing. I wish you a speedy recovery and some very much deserved rest!

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  25. You are so, so strong and brave! I've always admired your blog, life, family, etc. and now even more so! You are such an inspiration and ray of light to all your readers for all of the things you have gone through while still maintaining such normality. I have been and will be praying for you and your family for this surgery and all of your other life events. Your baby book also had me tear up. Such sweet memories and a remembrance of why it is so important to make and share those details while babies are still young! Is this something that Lindsey has been considering as well due to the family circumstances? Hugs to you OXOX

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  26. Wow!! I was so shocked to see this post this morning honestly, but I am so proud of you! This decision is a HARD one to make! I will be praying for you!

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  27. You are making a very powerful, very brave decision. I have a genetic pre-disposition as well to several different cancers in my family. I had the genetic testing done about 2 years ago and I am not a carrier, thank God. My Maternal Grandfather has been battling skin cancer for the last several years. He's been incredibly strong and resilient through his treatments. I know that you will carry the strength and powerful support of your Mother, your Father, 2nd Mother, Sister, Husband, and those 2 beautiful children. Best of luck to you with the surgery, recovery, and reconstruction of your tatas. Remember to find some humor in the darkest moments, even when the light doesn't seem to shine.

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  28. I have been following your blog (which I absolutely love) for the past few years and have never commented. I am in awe of your courage. I am a nurse practitioner and think you are making a very smart decision! I would do the same if I were in your shoes! I wish you an easy recovery and will be thinking of you and your family frequently. Take care !

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  29. Wow, I had no idea about your family's history of breast cancer. This is the most selfless decision you could ever make for your family and your children. What a strong woman you are. I will be thinking of and praying for you over the next few weeks!

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  30. Oh my goodness - Christina, you are so brave! I cannot believe you are dealing with this along with everything else going on right now. I am so thankful to read that you do not have breast cancer and are going to reduce your risk down to 1%! I am so happy you'll be around for your family, get to see your children and nieces and nephews grow up into wonderful adults and I'm so glad you and Matt will get to grow old together. I can't imagine how hard of a decision this was for you both but it sounds like the best decision with the high risk of you getting breast cancer. Praying for you, Matt and your babies!!

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  31. Christina! You are so brave and such a strong momma to share your story. It will touch so many people and your positive outlook and cute babes will help others facing hard decisions like this. I have a sorority sister who went through a similar decision process earlier this summer and decided to write a blog about it to show the good, the bad and the hot new toddies she got!! While she is not a mother yet, I know hearing about others experiences can be helpful! https://positiveprevivor.wordpress.com/ On a side note, I know the recovery will take some time and with 2 babes at home, it will be hard to find the time to pamper yourself. Since I am opening a new beauty bar, I think I can help with that and please, please, please email me if you want to come in and get your hair blown out/mani&pedi/ or even your eyebrows waxed! You were one of the first blogs I followed when I moved to CLT and I'd love to meet you in person and take care of any of those things during this time! Emai:l kiri@thedailydetails.com

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  32. Prayers for you! Cancer is such an ugly awful thing. My family has been dealt a bad deck of cards when it comes to it too.

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  33. I'm in tears. I think it's amazing how you are doing this not only for you, but for your family. Especially in light of everything else going on right now. I'll be praying for you and your whole family!

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  34. You are so strong, it sounds like the easiest, hardest decision ever. You're choosing life and that is beautiful, all the other worries are secondary. I'll be praying for your physical and emotional recovery. I'll pray for your family. I'll pray for your doctors. God and determination will see you through it and it will be one heck of a story in the end. AOT

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  35. You are the strongest and most inspiring woman. I am keeping you and your family in my prayers!

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  36. Wow, you are such a brave and strong woman! I admire your decision and will be praying for you!

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  37. You are incredibly strong and brave. Thoughts and prayers are definitely being sent your way!

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  38. I found your blog through a friend and have been following your story. Sending up many prayers for a safe procedure. I think you are making a very brave decision- though I imagine an incredibly difficult one. Hoping you find strength and peace during this time.

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  39. I just want to say thank you from the bottom of my heart for being so open. It makes some of us a little less scared.

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  40. Stay strong, mon amie! I know I'm a stranger, but if you ever need anything, don't hesitate to ask!

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  41. Hi Christina, I've been reading your blog for awhile but don't comment too often. I just wanted to let you know that you have to be one of the bravest and strongest people to be going through all of these trials in such a positive way. It truly is inspirational to see how strong you are and I think it's incredible that you have a platform to inspire others.

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  42. I have tears in my eyes reading this - you're so brave! My mom fought breast cancer and won two years ago, but it wasn't nearly as aggressive as your mom's sounds. I've been thinking more and more lately about it and have been considering getting the genetic testing done, just in case. When I told my doctor last year at my annual checkup, she didn't think my risk was high because my mom was much older when she was diagnosed, but it's still in the back of my mind, you know? I also read an article recently that women with my ethnic background (Ashkenazi Jewish) are far more likely to have the gene, so that scared me. I will be following along with your journey... and asking about that test at my next appointment. Best of luck - I truly think you're doing the right thing!

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  43. Tears. You are so incredibly brave, and I support you! Thank you for sharing and for continuing to be an inspiration to us all! I don't even have the same family medical history as you but this thought has crossed my mind before, and here you are living it...Sending extra love, prayers, good thoughts your way!

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  44. you are so brave to take on this surgery head on and to be so open about it. you're going to help so many other people who read this post. stay strong. we're all thinking about you. :)

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  45. You are so brave. Sending extra thoughts and prayers to you all.

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  46. Such a brave decision. I have always wondered about your birth mother and I'm thankful that you've shared all of these details with us. Sending {more} positive thoughts your way!

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  47. I want to say that I've always loved reading about your family and your updates, but today, I see you in a different light. I see a brave woman, a woman with courage who truly epitomizing motherhood. You're not alone, even if you feel like it, there are many people in this world who have had mastectomies, and there are support groups that I'm sure you'll find either through the wonderful people posting on this post or just in your town.

    My thoughts and prayers are with you through this incredibly tough time. You are a wonderful mother and a brave one for this. I'm so glad you have Matthew and your family to help you through this.

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  48. Good for you for taking this step and I don't blame you one bit! You've been through so much lately! I hope everything goes well with the mastectomy and reconstruction and you have a smooth recovery.

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  49. Wow...just wow! I'm so glad you are sharing this, especially because it's very private and you don't have to. I had never even heard of the test for the BRACA 1 gene until a few months ago when my co-worker was tested and it came back positive. Looking forward to reading all about your journey with this and answering all those medical questions about how much this decreases your odds now and all the details.

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  50. Christina, I'm so proud of you for having the courage to share this. Not only is this a huge decision, but by sharing this, you are educating so many women out there. Praying for you and thinking of you, and your sweet family!

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  51. Christina, I have read you for a few years and I love your blog. I can't imagine what you're going through. What a brave and courageous thing to do and to share with so many people! My thoughts and prayers are with you and your sweet family!

    I actually read a blog written by a local realtor in my city (Columbia--so just down the road from you!). She just had this surgery done. Her blog is: http://thedefinitionofawoman.blogspot.com/

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  52. You are such an amazing mama! I had a friend remove one breast last year when they detected cancer in her. Luckily at stage 1. She removed her breast three weeks before her wedding day. I'll be thinking of you and your family and cheering you along in your decisions. Xo

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  53. You are such a strong woman and truly amazing!! I am sending many prayers your way for comfort, guidance and quick healing. Keep you head up sweet friend!!

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  54. Can I give you a metal?!? Or perhaps a person of the year award?!?! With everything your family is dealing with you seem to be handling everything with grace. I also love that you are sharing this story, so that others who might be in the same boat as you, can also begin to educated themselves and explore the options for what you can do when you carry the breast cancer gene. Keeping you and your sweet family in my prayers!

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  55. The strength you and your family has - wow. Beyond amazed over here. I love following your life and all these hurdles you all have been facing, and how you are battling past them... Best Wishes for a successful surgery and quick recovery. You and your family... wow...

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  56. You are incredible! Praying for you and your beautiful family!

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  57. You are incredibly strong and inspiring. I can't imagine but I'm glad you have such an incredible support system in place. Many thoughts, good wishes for a speedy recovery and prayers are with you. God bless.

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  58. You are incredible Christina - your strength is truly inspiring!!

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  59. This is a great post and thank you for sharing something very private with all of us. My family has a history of breast cancer and I too need to be more pro-active about it. Because of this post I think I actually will do some more research to know the most about what happened with my grandma and her mother as well. I wish you all the best I know someone here locally who chose this same route and I know there will hard days but there will be MANY MANY more days ahead because of your decision and staying proactive!! xo

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  60. Oh my god. This might be the bravest thing I have ever read. You are an amazing inspiration... thank you so much for sharing your story and my thoughts are with you as you begin this journey.

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  61. You are so strong! Wow, thank you so much for sharing your journey and being so open and raw. This has to be such a difficult time but bravo to you for your decision. Praying for God to lead the surgeon's hands and for a quick and painless recovery.

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  62. Praying hard for you and your whole family. What a brave decision to make, and an even braver decision to share your story. <3

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  63. Your babies (and Matt) are so lucky to have you. I'm in a very different boat of having to carefully monitor myself and get colonoscopies much earlier since my dad died. I totally agree with you about the idea of being lucky that you can fight it before it starts. I so firmly believe in that. Thank you for sharing this with all of us. And know that we'll be here to hear about bad days or feeling scared too. You don't have to be super brave all the time, or alone in those moments. Sending prayers and love and hugs! xo

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  64. You're a really strong person to go through this - my mom had stage 3 breast cancer two years ago, and decided at that time to have a double mastectomy (no reconstruction). She also had to go through chemo and radiation, but beat cancer with serious style (she was upbeat through the entire thing). I think with the mastectomy she was down and out only for a week or two, but I know how hard it is to not pick up your babies when you want to or need to. I hope that you have an amazing recovery and that everything goes exactly as planned.

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  65. Cheering you on, you truly are an inspiration!

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  66. thinking of you and your family during this time! what a strong, brave mama you are!

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  67. I applaud you for being so open about a very personal decision. I went through a cancer "scare" this time last year (and have to go for my mammo next week). I did have surgery to remove the spot in question and thank the Lord it was benign. I will say however, I had many of the same questions/scenarios running through my head at the time. You are choosing life, a life without fear. Choosing to be present for your husband, children and family. A verse that got me through was Matthew 28:20, the version I was teaching to my little 2's at Bible class at that time, "I am with you always." It was very comforting. Will continue to keep you and the family in prayer as well as your team of doctors and nurses.

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  68. I can only imagine what you went through trying to make this decision. I lost my grandmother, great grandmother & maternal aunt to breast cancer & I have issues so I completely understand the every 6 mos. testing & worry that goes along with it. My mom has been the lucky one so far. Do you read Krysten's blog? http://www.darwinianfail.com/ She had this procedure too. Please know that you, your family & Doctors are in my prayers. I'm glad you decided to share this journey with us.

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  69. Wow Christina how many times can I cry while reading your blog!? As usual you and your family will be in my prayers and I will be on a similar journey of discovery too since I have a history of breast cancer in my family. Very fitting considering it is breast cancer awareness month! Please let us know about your journey and how we can be there for you and your family!

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  70. YOU ARE AMAZING!!!!!!!!!! Simply amazing! Your strength and grace never cease to amaze me. Continued prayers....for ALL of you!

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  71. Christina,
    I have followed your blog since Caroline's birth and always been astounded by your grace and strength. You are an amazing, amazing woman. Thank you for sharing your story. Sending all my love to you and your beautiful family.

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  72. Wow. What a courageous decision you have made & I have so much respect for you. I'm sure coming to that conclusion must have been one of the hardest decisions you've ever made. You've had quite a bit of stress on your plate recently but you handle it so well. Prayers for you and your beautiful family through this time, as well as the doctors, nurses & other care givers. Thank you for sharing your journey with us!

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  73. Girl, you made me cry but I don't know if it's because I'm so happy for you or because i'm just pregnant. Haha! You are kicking cancer in the butt before it even says hello- that is amazing. Your story is going to inspire and be such a blessing to so many, including me. Prayers for you a your family. Xoxo

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  74. You are such an amazing and strong person! So proud of you for refusing to live in fear and making the tough decision to be proactive about enjoying life to the fullest and to be there for your babies and family! Keeping you in my prayers! xo

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  75. Christina, you and your family are (still) in my prayers. You are such a strong person and mommy. I cannot relate to any of this but I think you're making a selfless decision. I know this will not be easy but being there for your kids and husband will be worth it. God bless you on this journey!

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  76. hitting publish was a brave, honest and strong move on your part, Christina! Thank you for sharing your journey, I know so many will benefit from your candor. I'll be thinking of you and your family

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  77. Prayers for you and Matt and your babies. You're so brave! Thinking of you all...

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  78. I'm crying as I read this. What an awesome thing for you to share...you'll never know that amount of hope and courage you are giving someone in your same situation. We lost my father-in-law about a month ago to Stage 4 colon cancer just 3 weeks after he was diagnosed. Cancer is a nasty disease and prevention and early detection is key. Praying for you and your family as you go on this journey and I'm so proud of you for sharing your story. Hugs!

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  79. My mother got cancer twice when she was in her 50's. She also had a double mastectomy. Her diagnosis put me at a slightly higher risk of getting breast cancer, but, like you, I thought I was invincible. "I'm not going to get cancer," I would tell myself. When discussing it with my doctors, they all said that I should get my first mammogram at 35. I turned 35 and dreaded the mammogram. When I had my annual appointment, my doctor encouraged me to get the exam and I did. They told if I didn't receive a call within 24 hours, I would not have to do a followup. Unfortunately, they found something. There was an area that was suspicious and they wanted to do additional tests. I had to wait a week. It was the worst and longest week of my life! When I was tested for the second time with another mammogram and an ultrasound, it turned out to be benign. Only a cyst. However, I was done. I wasn't going to do another mammogram ever again. I couldn't go through that again, that waiting. The anxiety I endured and the anxiety that my family went through was unbearable, and I didn't want to put anyone through that again. That is, until I read your post. While the agony of waiting for test results was horrible, the only thing worse would be to not see my children grow up. So thank you for this. I hope it all goes well and I will be thinking about you.

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  80. Oh Christina :( I've been following your blog for years. I've pinned your recipes, stolen your holiday decor ideas, and beamed as I've watched your family grow. Over the past year I've also had you and your family in my thoughts regularly. You've dealt with so much and handled it with such amazing grace. I admire your resilience and profound faith. I wanted to share the blog of a dear friend of mine who documented her own battle with the BRCA gene and the decision to get a preventative double mastectomy. (http://tickingtimebombsblog.com/) You mentioned that it was difficult to find other women who have faced this tough decision. I hope that this helps. Thinking of you and your family!

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  81. Thank you for this post and thank you for your honesty. Although many of your posts make my heart hurt for your family, it is so refreshing in this current "blog world" of Like This and That and What I'm Wearing This Morning, This Afternoon, and Tonight to be reminded that there are women across the country that are dealing with real scary issues and they put themselves out there in hopes that they can help just one woman who might be suffering in silence. Please don't lose this aspect Christina. There aren't many of you good ones left! Sending lots of prayers and healing to you over the next weeks and months.

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  82. Wow. Just wow. I am so grateful that I found your blog. Thank you for sharing. What a strong and courageous mama. My prayers are with you and your family.

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  83. Oh, Christina!!! You are making such an important decision by doing this -- I just know you won't regret it! It is so worth all of the pain and discomfort and difficulty to take that risk down so substantially. You and your family are continually in my prayers! You're such a trooper. You've got this in the bag. Better yet, your Father in heaven has you in His care. Praying for ease and speed of recovery and precision and efficiency with the surgery. May you be covered in every inch by prayer!!!! Sending you love and happy thoughts through this hard time!

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  84. Your strength is so admirable!! You will be in my thoughts & prayers!

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  85. You are so strong and courageous. I love your attitude and the way you are looking at life. I love it! Prayers with you and your family and have faith, sweet mama!

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  86. I admire your strength! This was no doubt a very difficult decision but it definitely sounds like the right one. I am looking forward to hearing more about this journey.

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  87. You are one of the strongest women I've ever (virtually) met. Your story has inspired me to get genetic testing for breast cancer now. Thank you for sharing your life with us :) xoxo

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  88. Thank you for posting this!!! I've been thinking about this for many years too. My mom also had breast cancer. As did her mom. They both lost their lives at a young age as well. I was 11 and my brother was 8 when my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. She had a double mastectomy and radiation and chemo and went into remission. And then it came back in her lymph nodes and she had chemo and radiation again. Then she went into remission. Then it came back... in her lungs and the doctors said there was nothing they could do for her. They do lung transplants on smokers with cancer but not other people with cancer because it would be a "waste of lungs" since the "cancer would probably come back". I was so so mad. How could the doctors give up on my MOM like that. She ended up passing away when I was 18 and never saw my brother graduate high school, me graduate college, my get married, meet my husband or her grand baby. Cancer robs us of so much. I know I have a high risk and I had the BRACA1 test done and it came back negative and I was shocked and didn't believe it. Now that I've just spilled my whole life to a complete stranger.... I've been thinking about doing this same thing for forever. I look forward to following along with your journey. You are so brave! Thank you for sharing this with us!

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  89. I am so proud of you for being so proactive! This is a huge step as well as a huge decision! I love that you are giving yourself a huge fighting chance to stick around & be apart of your husbands life as well as your children's for many many years to come! You will be in my thoughts & prayers!

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  90. Holy moly Christina! !! You truly are the definition of a warrior mom :) You are brave, strong, and an inspiration to so many of your readers. We can all use your positivity as a lesson in facing life's trials with grace. Stay strong and know you have so many people praying for you! !

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  91. You are in my prayers. Remember that God is always with you. He has been right there with you through the decision making process and will see you through to full recovery. You are beautiful, young and strong. "For I know the plans I have you,' declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jer 29:11

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  92. This is scary, but the alternative is much more scary. You got this. Thoughts and prayers for an uncomplicated surgery, fast recovery, and you and your husband both being a quick study in baby contacts.

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  93. Christina, I am so sorry to hear about this but you are very brave to go through with this surgery to preserve your life and future with your family. I will keep you and your family in my prayers. I love your blog and you are an inspiration to all of your readers on what it means to be a strong, godly woman. Matt and your children are blessed to have you in their lives.

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  94. I have been following you for quite some time, and you always amaze me with your incredible grace. I will be praying for you and your family. You are so brave!

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  95. Wow! What a tough decision, but it sounds like you've definitely made the right one for yourself and your family. My grandma is a breast cancer survivor who also had a double mastectomy, she's still alive and well today at 85 years old! Thinking of you and your family! Stay strong!

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  96. You are so brave! Remember that you have an entire community of bloggers here to support you!

    Lauren :)
    ohheyilikethat.blogspot.com

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  97. What an incredibly open, honest post. I've lost both of my grandmothers, 2 of my aunts and my husband lost his dad as well to cancer. I once got into an argument with someone in my AP Government class in 12th grade, because she said she didn't think we should find a cure to cancer, because, well, how would people die then? After asking her if she ever witnessed the turmoils of cancer and its treatment, especially for someone close to her (the answer being No), I lost it on her.

    Prayers and support for you and your family through this emotional time.

    xoxo Kelli
    kellifornialove.blogspot.com

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  98. I have two friends (they're sisters) who both just made this same decision. Their grandmother has had breast cancer multiple times and their mom has had it twice. I think you are making such a brave and wonderful decision that is just as much for your family as it is for yourself! They've both had good experiences with it and just know you'll be safe and I'm sure recovery will go smoothly! Thinking about you during this journey!

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  99. Oh dear, Christina. Prayers for you and courage and love. God bless you and keep you.

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  100. WOW, I didn't realize your mom died when you were five. You are truly brave . Praying for you and your family.

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  101. What an amazing thing you are taking on. Many many prayers to you and your family. I cannot imagine living with that fear- your kiddos will thank you for this someday :)

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  102. You have been handed so many challenges and yet you're handling them all with bravery and strength. What a shining example you are to your children and those that read here. I'm thinking of you and your family and I hope that the procedure goes perfectly. While I'm sure it won't be easy, I am sure it will be worth it. Sending so many good thoughts your way.

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  103. You are so strong, and so brave! I'm in awe of how gracefully you seem to be handling everything -- this, your dad's illness, Thomas's cataracts. You're a super woman! Prayers that everything goes well for you.

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  104. I've spent the last 24 hours flying to the US (Houston) and all I want is to hop on a plane and come and see you and your sweet babies! Sending you my greatest prayers my friend - you are brave and courageous and your Momma is watching over you with love and pride x

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  105. What a brave, brave thing to be doing!! Thank you for sharing this & reminding me that I too need to be much more aggressive in my "cancer watch". My mom, grandmother & a great-aunt all had colon cancer. My mom at a very rare, young age, 36 and I'm constantly in denial that I'm getting closer & closer to that age. Thank you for sharing! I will be praying for you!!

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  106. Saying many prayers for you and your family during this time. Luvs and hugs

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  107. Saying many prayers for you and your family during this time. Luvs and hugs

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  108. You are so very brave. I'm praying for you on this new scary, but empowering journey ahead. I think it is so beautiful that you are taking control. Thank you for encouraging us women to examine ourselves. I'm 30 weeks pregnant and I will be asking my doctor to check me at my next appointment! Sending you so much love and prayers!

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  109. Was at a high school football game tonight during a pink out... All I could think about was the strength you are exhibiting and how you are doing more for breast cancer awareness than a pink shirt ever could. Praying for you all!

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  110. How can I help? I want to help.... Please let me know sweet girl

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  111. Praying endlessly for you, your sweet family and the team of doctors that will bring you through this! Your strength and selflessness is an inspiration to all of us. Holding you close to my heart as you begin this journey! Xo, Stephanie

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  112. I've kept this post open on my computer for a few days -- trying to think of what to say and all I can think of is im sorry -- im sorry your mom passed away so young, that you have to make such a hard decision and go through surgery. You are SO brave and strong!! It's great that you are spreading awareness about genetic testing and breast cancer prevention and im sure it helps others who are in the same position to have someone they can relate to. Thinking of you and your family and praying for a fast recovery. xo jillian - cornflake dreams

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  113. I am stunned reading this. I can't believe you are dealing with this on top of everything else. I think you are so brave to do this! I've paid close attention to stories like this (and Angelina Jolie's story) because my grandmother had breast cancer (single mastectomy) and my mother was diagnosed when I was in college (she went through radiation and is in remission). I've always thought to myself that I will probably deal with it myself one day and last year had my first ultrasound. I have fibrocystic breast condition (basically lumpy breasts) which makes it harder to identify potential issues.

    Did you get the genetic testing, I wasn't sure from the post. I have been thinking about doing that but part of me almost wants to wait until after we have our children, which I know doesn't matter - you can get cancer at any time.

    Thank you so much for sharing your story! I will be sending prayers your way.

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  114. Oh my goodness Christina! This story really touched my heart. I got choked up a few times reading about the story of your mother and growing up without her and then all the decisions you've had to make. You are amazing! So strong! What an inspiration! I had no idea you were going through this! I love how positive you are and that you've made this decision for the benefit of your future. I'll say a prayer for you! Best of luck and sending wishes for a speedy recovery!

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  115. Wow- I didn't realize you were going through this. I'm so proud of you for taking this step--- praying for all of you!! For peace, for healing, & for people to come alongside of y'all during this difficult time!!

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  116. Wow. Just wow. This is what brave looks like! Praying for you and cheering you on each step of the way! Xo

    www.Thebrew.me

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  117. Christina! You made the right decision! Unfortunately, for me I got breast cancer at the age of 37. Luckily, it was caught very early, but I had to go through almost a year of surgeries and chemo with 3 young children at home!! You are very brave and an inspiration! Most people don't realize women at any age can get breast cancer, young or old! I'm so glad you have let people follow you through this journey!! You go girl!!

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