Prophylactic Mastectomy and Breast Reconstruction: Kerry’s Story
Kerry: Growing up, I was overweight as a kid. And just really wanted to change myself, but I also knew that I needed to make healthy choices because of my family history, quite honestly. I was 10 years old, and my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. I wish I would say that I didn’t remember the very beginning of it, but I do. We’re at my grandma’s house, and she got a phone call, and she sat right down. And I remember it was dark outside. Just knowing something was really not good. I was 10; I had a brother who was seven and then a sister who was three. So, I know that was what she was living for. And she did. She got through it, and she’s a super strong woman.
I chose to go through genetic testing in early 2012. I went into the test feeling very brave, very brave. And then you go home, and your mind starts to just start thinking about what’s gonna happen if it’s positive, what’s gonna happen if it’s negative. And your staring fear in its face and try to hide from it, but it’s not gonna go away. You’ve got to deal with it.
The first, honestly, the first thing was relief because I knew; I’m not wondering. Then it went into just numbness and anger. My world is crashing. I was mad at God. I was mad at everybody. I isolated myself. I knew what was up ahead. I’m gonna have to have a double mastectomy, and this is gonna be life-changing.
The thought of losing your breasts and like this is who you are as a woman. That’s a huge thing to get your head around. It’s losing a part of yourself, that you, that you’ve known, but yet, also telling yourself this doesn’t mean that, that changes who you are. It’s okay to still feel like this is part of you that you’re losing, and you have to be, you know, that it’s okay to grieve that. As they started to talk with me about the implants, I became more uncomfortable about what they were sharing with me. Knowing myself, wanting to be as natural as possible, I was just not personally comfortable with that option that they had given,
When I found the surgeons that could provide me with options that I was looking for, there was a piece like, this is doable. I can do this. By the time that I had actually gotten to surgery, I remember the morning waking up, and there was a sense of peace. I was ready, and there was peace.
I remember just looking in the mirror before getting in the shower and realizing there’s a lot of stitches. You know, there’s drains and I don’t know there’s this sense though I will tell you of like, I’m gonna do this. I’ve got to get through it. Like, I’ve got to just charge ahead.
I got back to running. I did more running than I had done before and just even eating healthier and being more conscious of that. I don’t feel defined by my breasts or how they looked, and seeing my body now, it’s like this is you. Like it’s natural, it’s who you are, and that it can be better afterwards.
Watch as Kerry, 36, tells the story of how she gathered the courage to seek genetic testing after watching her mom be diagnosed and treated for breast cancer. Kerry talks about facing the reality of testing positive for a BRCA2 mutation, eventually feeling a sense of peace about undergoing risk-reducing surgery, and her empowering path of recovery.