Prophylactic Mastectomy and Breast Reconstruction: Kerry and Mandi
Kerry: Since having her son Gabriel, I think that that’s been a big bond between us to really enjoy spending time with him. I’m his godmother, and he’s a very, very special person.
Mandy: Watching my mom interact with my son makes me feel blessed. I’m grateful she is here and with us and able to give all the love in the world to him.
Kerry: Seeing her go through that was extremely difficult. I don’t even think I knew, at the time, how serious it was.
Mandy: I knew of my mom having cancer then, but I didn’t really see what she went through. So I was kind of blind to it. I didn’t really understand it until I got older. Kerry and I had talked about getting tattoos together and said what if we do this for Mom.
Kerry: My mom is the one who chose to go through genetic testing. Her doctor encouraged her. His actual words were, I think, “You need to get your head out of the sand and really think about doing this.”
Mandy: I think once my sister got tested, and she found out that she was positive, it really hit me hard; like, okay, this is serious, like it’s nothing to be playing around with. If I have it, I have a little boy who’s depending on me. I have a job — I’m a single mom. And I remember I called my sister, and I felt strong at first, but then I remember I just broke down and…
Kerry: I resonated with that. I know that feeling. I know that all those feelings that go along with that.
Kerry: You know, when she first saw me, like, okay, I’ve got to kind of wrap my arms around seeing my sister with drains, scars, and, she was open that I think it was a bit eye-opening for her.
Mandy: This sister, who I’ve always seen as strong and powerful, she was just very quiet. I definitely had the thought after seeing her like… why would I want to put myself through this? Like, there’s no way I could do it. I didn’t know how I was going to do it or where I was going to find the strength, but again, I just kept thinking of Gabriel and knowing that I needed to do it for him. Whether I don’t breastfeed anymore is, you know, that’s it’s okay.
Kerry: I just remember this burning feeling in my stomach when they were just talking about the limited options that she had, and I was sitting there, and I’m like, “How can I not say anything?” This is my sister. I have to look out for her. I want to protect her. I want to give her the best options.
Mandy: I remember I was out to eat with my mom after that; my sister calls, just like, “You know, what, we’re gonna try to get you into New Orleans and have your surgery there. What do you think of that?” Because nipple-sparing was a big deal to me, it was a breath of fresh air. It was amazing that someone could actually suit my needs.
Dr. DellaCroce: The fact that Kerry, you were the pioneer, and then Amanda benefited from that trail having been blazed.
Mandy: I feel like it sucked while we were going through it, but I feel like it was God’s plan for us to go through it together.
Kerry: The bond is just so much greater, I feel like, so much deeper than it’s ever been before. I mean, having the situation that we face, I look at it like, a blessing that we had the opportunity to get ahead of it.
Kerry: It felt good to be able to take care of my sister in whatever way that I could.
Mandy: I remember the first thing when I was in my room, and my family could come in. I remember my sister telling me you look great. It was just nice hearing that.
Kerry: You do.
Mandi, 29, talks about what it was like to watch her sister Kerry, 36, go through prophylactic mastectomy and reconstruction after Kerry tested positive for a BRCA2 mutation. When Mandi tested positive a year later, she had a big decision to make. Watch their story.