Tomorrow is my 39th birthday and I’ve been pondering the question, what does it truly mean to turn 39 as a cancer survivor/BRCA+ woman? For a lot of women, I would imagine, inching closer to 40 is tough, though many say age is just a number and still quite young in the scheme of things (everything is relative). Since turning 30 though, birthdays had a different meaning for me. My mom was first diagnosed with breast cancer at 39. I was very aware that entering my 30’s, I was growing closer to the age of my mom’s first diagnosis. I was also still confused about whether I wanted to start a family. I knew decisions had to be made, especially with being a BRCA+ woman. I always planned on having a mastectomy. I was waiting to see if we were going to have children first. I wanted to breastfeed if we did and thought I’d tackle mastectomy afterwards. Obviously the powers that be, had different plans for me.
I am trying to enter 39 with no regrets, but it’s honestly difficult to do. There’s part of me that wishes I started trying for children sooner and of course that I had a prophylactic mastectomy. My husband and I started trying around the time I was 33. Little did we know that I wouldn’t conceive full-term until I was 35, having our son Abraham at 36, later to be diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer.
Fast forward to today and that biological clock is ticking louder and faster than ever before! I’ve discussed in prior posts that my ovaries will need to be removed by 40. It’s a standard guideline the medical community goes by for BRCA+ woman. If ovarian cancer ran in my family, I would’ve most likely had them out already, but being that it doesn’t, my oncologist recommends 40. She recently told me at a check-up appointment that it’s just a guideline and even age 41 would be okay, but I told her after all that we’ve been through with chemo and surgery, I just don’t want to risk anything. So I am making sure they are out before I turn 40. Backtrack pregnancy 9 months out, that leaves about another 4 months of trying till the end of the year for baby number 2. We did look into IVF but decided against it. Again after all we have been through, and also having a beautiful healthy baby boy, trying naturally seems the better route for us. Leaving it up to fate I suppose!
Frustratingly, every month that goes by I am not pregnant, I get more nervous if we will be able to conceive again. But at this point, I am forced to stick to our plan of trying till the end of the year due to my BRCA status. What an unfortunate set of circumstances. So much pressure on top of wondering if my body is simply capable of conceiving again after chemo. Luckily as I mentioned in earlier posts, blood work showed my chances of conceiving are fair given my age and past medical treatment, but it’s like they say, no one has a crystal ball! It’s incredibly challenging. I am trying to stay positive, holding out hope there will be another baby on the horizon for us!
On a happier note, turning 39 after beating cancer is a good thing right?! I mean every year that goes by cancer free is a good one! I am slowly making my way to that 5-year mark. Two years ago, on what was my 37th birthday, I was at an infusion center getting chemo. It was a very difficult day and brings tears to my eyes just thinking about it. We had a 6 month old baby at home. It was my 3rd round of AC (the red devil and worst part of my chemo regiment). I had one more round of AC to go, followed by another 12 rounds of taxol and 4 rounds of carboplatin. Wow!! What a fucking tough fight that was! Turning 37 was not fun and quite depressing. My husband tried to cheer me up and bought a slew of lotto scratch offs to help occupy the infusion time. Unfortunately we didn’t win much, but it certainly helped to keep my mind off the fact that I was getting chemo on my 37th birthday.
Amazing how that was 2 years ago already! Today I am healthy, happy, head full of hair, with a beautiful 2.5 year old boy. We are hopeful, trying for another baby before my BRCA chapter comes to a close with an oophorectomy.
Here’s to my last year in the 30’s! Perhaps 40’s will be my best decade yet?! What has been your best decade so far BRCA sisters?