brca - our cancer story
We are mothers. We are mothers of preschoolers and mothers of teenagers. We are wives. We are economists, teachers, authors and entrepreneurs. We are sisters, aunts, friends, and women. We are a breast cancer survivor and a breast cancer previvor – turned survivor as well. We are BRCA.
Our mother passed away just two weeks after she had turned 39. My sister and I were 7 and 12 years old at the time. Our mom had breast cancer that metastasized everywhere. It seemed extremely strange to have her die so young. Our aunt had also been taken by cancer years later. Our journey continued when my sister found her malignant lump within days of her 35th birthday.
It was then we discovered together, we are BRCA1 sisters. We both carried our mother’s genetic mutation which gave us approximately 87% of developing breast cancer and a 48% chance of developing ovarian cancer in our lifetimes. Since it is a genetic mutation, each of our 6 children have a 50% chance of carrying the broken mutation as well. In many ways, that is the most difficult pill to swallow.
We have both had double mastectomies, breast reconstruction and hysterectomies – I, to prevent cancer; and my sister to remove it, along with over a year of chemotherapy and several trial drugs. After that point, we looked at each other and said, “So, what do we do with all of this?”
We picked up and have each done various things “with IT.” Some big things we have done together include being featured in a Marlo Thomas book and honored at the Vice-President of the United States residence. We’ve each done many things in our separate communities as well. Ironically, in 2017, after spending a week together, I found a lump under my arm. How could it be??? I’d done every preventative surgery I could have done. I’m BRCA. There must have been a bit of tissue left over from mastectomy and it turned. Doctor’s had always said there would be 5% breast tissue that remained. Terrific!
After a few years, losing my hair, 46 cancer treatments, etc…I am Thankful for each breath, blessing, day, and tiny hair that falls in my sink! One of my favorite verses and the one Appreciate The World is based on is Genesis 12:2 when God says to Abraham (and us):
I will make you into a great nation,
and I will bless you;
I will make your name great,
and you will be a blessing.
We are Blessed to be a Blessings ya’ll!! I pray you are Blessed today and that you can Bless someone else.
Change Lives. Give to Others!
Joy in the Jazz! The “C” word affects so many of us.
(I refuse to say the actual “cancer” word, because I feel it
gives it power.) I hesitate to share these personal
experiences here because if you are affected by
The “C” word, in any way, it is YOUR personal walk.
No one can tell you for sure how to be, how to feel,
how to act, or what to do. With that said, there is
no way I could have made it through without the stories
and help of others. I carry all those in my heart who
may not see any relief to this disease on this side of heaven.
5 Thoughts from this “C” patient:
1) This RED DEVIL chemotherapy being pumped into me is ridiculous! Really – you have to put on a gown, gloves and a mask to push it into my veins?? I respond each time you go to push it in my body by claiming, out loud, Isaiah 1:18: “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be like wool,” says the Lord.
He will redeem this RED DEVIL!
2) The HAIR DIVE – as in it falling out! How to deal with this is again, a very personal decision. Do you want to shave it? Try to save it? Have a hairdresser shave it, spouse shave it? When to shave it??? As I walked to our laundry room sink, to be “blessed” by having my best friend and husband shave my head just a few days after Thanksgiving…I was overwhelmed with the image of ALL those who went before me. The amount of COURAGE, people!!! After it was over, I was exhausted from the stress of it. Then after a short stint of wanting to throw up, I looked up and said, outloud,
“Lord, Help me find the Joy in the Jazz!”
(I frequently substitute the 4 letter-word JAZZ for all other 4 letter-words I truly want to use. HAHA!)
3) How to CONQUER “C” TREATMENT:
Apple Pie & Peppermint Patties!!!!
(Don't tell the medical staff - Haha!)
4) A DARK PLACE can occur…in your mind & heart.
It is TOUGH! We may tend to go to a dark place for days, months at a time, not able to move or think clearly, allowing a solid ground for mental & emotional attack. Let us be mindful that the awakening and clearing is coming and that in that dark place, GOD IS WITH US!
Settle down, rest, receive what you need. The light is coming.
He is strong in our weakness. (2 Corinthians 12:9)
5) Take a Stand, Cover & CLAIM healing verses –
Crazy, right?! Let’s do what we can. Cover (touch) the area of weakness in our bodies and SAY these healing verses over them, every day! Can do in the shower, but no, you don’t have to be naked to do it! 😉 These are my favorites, memorized:
Psalm 103:3 You heal all our diseases.
Isaiah 53:5 By Your stripes, we are healed.
Exodus 15:26 For I am the Lord, who healeth thee. KJV
There are many different ways of healing,
but ONE HEALER. Truthfully, we do not
know His will. Our complete healing is in heaven,
no matter who we are or what we've been through.
I love and commend all of the
COURAGE & FAITH so many of you live out. You inspire.
What is Genetic/Inherited Cancer?
According to the National Cancer Institute, it's defined as "A type of inherited disorder in which there is a higher-than-normal risk of certain types of cancer. Hereditary cancer syndromes are caused by mutations (changes) in certain genes passed from parents to children. In a hereditary cancer syndrome, certain patterns of cancer may be seen within families."
Let's have a quick Q & A on Genetic/Inherited Cancers:
1) Why would I think there would be a risk of Genetic/Inherited Cancer in my family line?
Most cancer is not inherited from one parent or the other. In fact, only about 10-12% of cancer is inherited. But, in these families there may be certain patterns which suggest the possibility of inherited cancer. If you or a close relative fit any of these patterns listed below, you may want to meet with a genetic counselor to talk about your family cancer history:
2) How do I find out if our family has genetic cancers?
Laboratory tests performed on blood, saliva or tumor tissue can analyze a person's genetic make-up to tell if they carry an inherited mutation in a gene that is associated with an increased risk for cancer. Genetic testing in people already diagnosed with cancer can also determine if their cancer was caused by an inherited mutation.
There are many different types of genetic tests. Some tests look for one or just a few specific gene mutations. Other tests—known as multigene panels—look for many gene mutations at the same time. The best test for you will depend on your family history and whether or not you have been diagnosed with cancer.
Genetic testing should involve careful thought and consideration. Results may affect medical decisions for cancer treatment, screening, and prevention.
The decision to undergo genetic testing is a very personal one, and the benefits and limitations depend on your circumstances. Not all genetic tests are the same: ordering the correct test and accurately interpreting the test results is not always straight-forward. For these reasons, it is important to speak with a CERTIFIED genetic counselor—if you are concerned that cancer may run in your family or if you are interested in genetic testing.
3) Helpful links, where to find more information:
Hoping this shares information on this confusing topic.
Hoping it can Change Lives.
Hoping We Always Find Hope!
Unfortunately, Everybody Knows
Somebody affected in one way, shape or form
by The “C” Word. With all kinds of
amazing stories and lives, it seems it’s always
The Over-comer, The Fighter, and The One
who takes the hardship they have been given
and GIVES TO OTHERS that we cling to. Hope.
Charlene Kimmel, YOU are a BLESSING to so many. You Change Lives by Giving to Others!
Please be encouraged by Charlene’s story and SPREAD THE NEWS OF
BATTLE BOUTIQUE for it can help so many:
My name is Charlene Kimmel and I am not only the founder of Battle Boutique, but I am a stage 3c breast cancer, battle tested, survivor.
In January of 2014, I found a small lump in my right breast. A mammogram and sonogram were completed and both results came back negative for anything looking suspicious.
The lump would continue to grow throughout the year and I eventually developed a red spot on my skin, directly over the lump. In May of 2015, I would once again find myself in the office of my OB/GYN searching for answers. Once again, sonograms and even a 3-D mammogram did not show any concerns. I knew something was not right. Feeling alone and confused, I was left with no guidance or resolution.
Not sure what else to do or who else to talk to, I decided to visit a plastic surgeon. I had hopes that maybe my concerns were with breast implants from an augmentation I had completed when I was 27 years old. Upon the initial consultation and review of my medical records, the plastic surgeon inspected the red markings on my skin. He stated that he could not do anything until I visited with a dermatologist to perform a punch biopsy.
I received a call from my dermatologist on January 21, 2016. She said, "It's not skin cancer, but it is breast cancer."
At the age of 38, I was in complete shock, which I am certain is the case with most newly diagnosed cancer patients. This diagnosis is what triggered my desire to offer something new to the cancer patient community, and I truly believe that God gave me the name Battle Boutique,
based off of Ephesians 6:16-17.
"In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God." Ephesians 6:16-17 (NIV)
Battle Boutique is a 501©3 non-profit created for cancer patients, survivors, family and friends by providing:
*Affordable apparel & supplies needed during treatment, recovery and cancer awareness.
*A place to donate apparel & supplies that are no longer needed.
*A community of encouragement & emotional support.
11716 W. 95th St.
Overland Park, KS 66214
Hours: Friday: 10:00-4:00
By appointment as well
Let's Encourage One Another Through Our BLESSINGS & BATTLEFIELDS.
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