Yesterday, I posted this update on Facebook:
Happy erev mammoversary to me! Three years and counting...on many more healthy ones. @facingourrisk #BRCA #gratefulToday, I posted this one:
Three years ago today, I slept through the entire day. Oh, right...I was saving my life. Thanks, Dr. G and Dr. M!This evening, I wrote this post:
I promise this will be the last mammoversary post until next year.
In honor of the occasion, I just made a donation to FORCE: Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered, the amazing organization that empowered me to make the tough medical decisions that I believe saved my life...and has been with me every step of the way, providing information, resources and incredible support. FORCE's 2014 fundraising campaign is underway and I'm proud to pay it forward. I'd be grateful if you'd consider joining me.Thank you!A link at the bottom of this last post takes you to my FirstGiving fundraising page, where you can read this message and donate:
Thank you for visiting my FORCE fundraising page!
Although asking friends and family to donate to a specific cause is not among my favorite things to do, I'm willing to do it to benefit FORCE: Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered during the 2014 fundraising campaign. I truly believe that I would not be where I am in my BRCA journey today without this incredible organization that is solely devoted to providing up-to-date information, resources, and support to the community of people who are at risk of hereditary breast and ovarian cancer (HBOC) syndrome.
Because I have been exceedingly open and forthcoming about my BRCA mutation and the steps I've taken in the last several years to reduce my personal risk, I'm not going to retell my story here. If you want to read about it, there are plenty of details elsewhere on this blog. (Using the box in the upper left-hand corner of the page, search "BRCA" and then sort by date and you should be able to piece the story together fairly well.)
I will say, however, that I am proud and honored to give back to FORCE as one of two volunteer outreach coordinators in New York City. In this role, I work with my partner coordinator to schedule, organize and help facilitate peer-to-peer support meetings on topics of interest to the hereditary cancer commuity; provide one-on-one support to members dealing with emotional and physical impacts of their BRCA status; and manage regular communications to members of FORCE's NYC group. I also speak and write frequently about BRCA gene mutations in an effort to raise awareness about their presence, particularly in the Ashkenazi Jewish community, where one in 40 individuals is a carrier, and most of these people are unaware of their status.
Indeed, until four years ago, when my sister (thankfully, she's negative) and I took the initiative to get tested after we lost our mom to exceedingly virulent breast cancer, we, too, were unaware of the presence of a BRCA mutation in our family. Although we'll never know how different our family's story might have been had we known about the mutation sooner, if my work with FORCE can prevent even one other family from enduring what we did because we didn't know, I believe some good will come from our experience and that my endeavors will contribute to the Jewish concept of tikkun olam -- repair of our world.