"My Battle with Breast Cancer"
"The Decision That Could Save My Life"
Telling her family was one of the hardest things she'd ever done. "I walked into that appointment as your average 27-year-old and walked out as this sick girl that everyone felt sorry for," Kristin says. "I could see people panicking all around me." Her parents were devastated; her father blamed himself for passing the gene on to her. Andrew's sister, a nurse at Sloan-Kettering, broke down in tears. "She knew how bad it was," Kristin says.
That night Kristin began doing her own research on BRCA1. "I looked up triple negative breast cancer, the type of cancer my cousin Angela had, which is linked to BRCA1. I'd thought that as long as the cancer was discovered early, I could do something about it. But I learned that this kind is not easily treatable. Even early detection might be too late." It quickly became clear that her best chance for survival was to have both her breasts surgically removed. "I knew I had to do it. There was no way of avoiding the surgery. I want to have a family; I want to grow old with my husband," Kristin says, crying. "I wasn't going to let anything stand in my way."
Once Kristin made the difficult decision, her doctors explained that she would need more than one surgery. During the first operation, they would remove her breasts and put in tissue expanders to make room for implants; several months later she would have breast implant surgery. Kristin scheduled the double mastectomy for fall 2009, after she'd have completed a battery of screenings, including a mammogram, an MRI, and blood tests, to rule out existing cancer. (She was clean.)
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