Jess's Previvor Story

I had never even heard of Triple Negative breast cancer. Until I found out that my sister was diagnosed with it. Metastatic breast cancer. There would be no cure, not even any treatment. Palliative care was all her doctors could offer, and she was admitted into a hospice care facility. She passed away 9 days later, at age 38. 

About a month prior, 2000 miles away, I found a lump in my right breast. Was it cancer? After 2 mammograms and an ultrasound, I learned that luckily it was not. My breast care team, upon hearing of my sister's unfortunate diagnosis, prompted me to have genetic counselling and testing. Just the thought was unsettling, but I knew it was the right choice. 

I got the phone call from my genetics counsellor at work. I tested positive for the NBN mutation, directly connected to breast cancer. It felt like an eternity before I could catch my breath. I finished the conversation, thanked her and scheduled a follow up to discuss my preventative options. A breast MRI was my next step, and luckily no cancer was detected. 

The holidays were approaching, and I was also planning my spring wedding. It was overwhelming. I was on autopilot for months, going through the motions and trying to keep my sanity. I decided in January to move forward with scheduling a double mastectomy. I met with a whole team of doctors and surgeons, had consultations and testing, and learned more about breast cancer than I had ever considered. But I knew that I wasn't going to let breast cancer beat me. 

I had a skin sparing, nipple sparing, preventative double mastectomy in June, one month after my wedding. I had tissue expanders placed at that time to begin the reconstructive phase of my treatment. I completed my reconstruction about a month ago, exchanging my tissue expanders for silicone implants. I am still healing and learning to love my new body, but I know that I made the right decision. 

I'll never get to see, talk to, or hug my sister again, but she saved my life. I know she would be proud of me. I know she will always watch over me. In that respect, I am very lucky. I am proud to be a previvor.

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