Advanced Placement Mastectomy Student- Emma

Advanced Placement Mastectomy Student- Emma Jacomet

Don’t block any of your feelings, there will be
good and bad days and that is ok! You do not have to put on an ‘I’m ok’ face if you are not.
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Name: Emma Jacomet

Age at Enrollment: 22

Major: I don’t have cancer, but I am BRCA2 positive . That means that I have a genetic
mutation in one of the two BReast CAncer genes. Everybody has these genes that
are a protection against the developement of cancerous cells. When you
have a mutation in the BRCA1 or the BRCA2 , you have one less tool to fight against
cancerous cells. In women, this mostly increases the risk of breast and ovarian
cancers. In men, it affects mostly prostate and breast cancer.
I was diagnosed with the BRCA2 mutation and had an 85% risk in getting breast cancer in my life.


What were the primary symptoms you experienced?
I did not have symptoms , although I have a big family history of breast cancer.

What symptom(s) lead you to go to the doctor? My mom told me she was
carrying the mutation . She got it from my grandmother who had breast cancer as well
as her sister. I had a 50% chance to have the mutation too.

Courses completed: I had a preventive double mastectomy and I am using the tissue expander method for breast reconstruction. During the first surgery the surgeons emptied my breasts and placed temporary empty implants (tissue expanders) behind my chest muscle. Every 2 weeks I am getting my expanders filled with salt water in order to stretch the skin and muscle to create space for the real silicone implants to come. In May, I am
getting my exchange surgery where the surgeons will take out my expanders to put in
my implants.


What was your hardest moment (or moments) and how did you you get
through it/them?
The hardest moment for me was to look at my chest for the first
time after my double mastectomy. Taking off the bandages was scary. I took a deep
breath and tried my best to remember exactly why I was doing this.

What advice would you give to someone who is newly diagnosed? What
advice would you tell them to ignore?
I would tell them to feel what they are
feeling and to take it day by day. It is ok to feel bad, sad, confused as much as It is
ok to feel positive, happy and strong. Don’t block any of your feelings, there will be
good and bad days and that is ok! You do not have to out on an “I’m ok” face if you
are not.

How did your family and friends respond? At first my family was in denial and
didn’t really pay attention to it. After a while they realized it was serious, and did
their best to support me. My friends reacted in a very loving and supportive way from
the start!


Are there any bad platitudes/bad recommendations that you’ve heard
from other people regarding your diagnosis?
No I haven’t. I think everybody’s way of dealing with this diagnosis is good as long as they listen to their doctors and
to their bodies!

When you feel overwhelmed or anxious, what do you do? I let tears roll
down, I put some music , write in my journal or I call a friend.

What do you wish more people knew/understood about BRCA mutations? I wish people knew more about hereditary gene mutations, especially if there is a history of cancer in the family. Knowledge is power!

Have you created any meaning out of this experience? If so, what was
it/how did you do it?

I realized how much I wanted to be there for others. I started a blog, an Instagram account
and have many ideas iand projects in order to create things here in Europe.
This experience and the people I met thanks to it ispire me every single day !

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How did/do you find joy during this experience? I think of how lucky I am to have the chance to know about my genes. Thanks to that I could take my life back in my hands and beat breast cancer before it has a chance to challenge me. This is a beautiful gift of life and that brings me joy!

Since your diagnosis, what new belief, habit or behavior has most improved your quality of life? I start to take much more time to take care of myself. My skin, my hair... And I started to practice meditation much more. It brings me more peace and harmony in my daily life.

Did you learn anything about yourself or your life? If so, what was it? I learned to trust my journey and to let lose of all negative people around me. Life is short and I cleared up my friend circle as I gained a lot of respect for my body.

If you could write anything you wanted on a billboard in NYC’s Times Square that would reach millions of people, what would it read? “Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see the shadow. It’s what sunflowers do. “ H.Keller

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