Advanced Placement Student- Jennifer Lind
Age at Enrollment: BRCA1 Positive
Major: Predisposed to Breast Cancer. High Risk.
What symptom(s) lead you to go to the doctor? My father tested positive for the BRCA1 gene mutation.
Courses completed: On September 29th, I had a Preventative Double Mastectomy.
What was your hardest moment (or moments) and how did you you get through it/them? The hardest part for me was when I first found out I was positive for the BRCA1 gene mutation. Knowing I was high risk for developing cancer, watching my father be treated for colon cancer, and our family history of aggressive breast cancer that has taken so many women on my dads side freaked me out. I had a feeling deep down I was positive. And I knew what I had to do in order to save my life.
Any helpful (tangible) tips or tricks you discovered for dealing with your symptoms and/or cancer? Knowing my body was about to drastically change, I decided to work out and practice intentionally loving myself months before my preventative surgery. I worked hard in the gym, ate right, and celebrated my life and body with my friends. It helped me prepare, and focus on why I was doing what I was doing, and put me in a great mental space!
How did your family and friends respond? My family was incredibly supportive in my decision. And most of my friends were too. Some of my friends didn’t know how to respond. They didn’t understand why I was making the choice to have this surgery since I wasn’t sick. They didn’t understand what the BRCA1 gene mutation meant. That was hard. You start to find out who your true friends are when you make decisions like this.
Have you created any meaning out of this experience? If so, what was it/how did you do it? Oh yeah. Repurposing fear. Taking the situation, and turning into something beautiful. Something of impact. I decided to share my journey on IG, because when I first started this process, I found women online who had been through what I was about to go through, and having their support made all the difference for me in this experience. And I wanted to do the same for others. Taking the fears and anxieties of this experience, and repurposing those things to help and demystify the process for other women.
How did/do you find joy during this experience? I found so much joy in this experience by talking to women all over the world who are in the same situation. Helping others with tips and tricks for post-op care, or just encouraging someone else and reminding them that they’re strong and beautiful.
How are you healing from this experience? I’m doing well. I had a little setback with some dead skin that didn’t heal properly around my right nipple. The dead skin had to be cut off and stitched up. I’ve had to stop all fills for two weeks to let the skin heal. So that setback was hard for me to deal with, but things are healing perfectly now, and I’m moving forward!
Did you learn anything about yourself or your life? If so, what was it? I’m stronger than I think, and that I can make a difference. That I have the choice when facing something scary, to take that and turn it into something beautiful. Repurposing fear, and finding my courage. I love life. I love people. And I love food. Like a lot. Haha :)