On December 26, John & I will be celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary! I tell people it is a miracle! The truth is we have been blessed with many miracles during the past 25 years! The three best miracles have been our children, Aaron, Dylan, & Zoey! As all parents do, John & I wish for our children a long, happy & healthy life. With that in mind, we can think of no better way to honor our anniversary than to contribute to FORCE. FORCE is working towards the day when my family (and so many others) will not have to worry about Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer.
Most of you know that in June of 2008, at 44 years of age, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I was shocked! I had done all the things recommended to keep myself healthy, including eating a mostly plant based diet, breast feeding for 4 years of my life, exercising regularly, not smoking or using drugs, and drinking moderately. I also didn't think I had a family history of breast cancer. How could this be happening to me?
I quickly learned about the BRCA mutation, a genetic mutation that greatly increases a carrier's risk of breast and ovarian cancer. I also found out that Ashkenazi Jews (from Eastern European ancestry), of which I am one, are the ethnic group with the largest risk of having the BRCA 1 & 2 mutations. 1 in every 40 Ashkenazi Jews has a BRCA mutation. I was tested and 2 weeks later, after agonizing over what type of surgery to have, I discovered that I had the BRCA 1 mutation. This meant that I had been living with an 87 percent risk of breast cancer and a 50 percent risk of ovarian cancer. I also had a 50 percent risk of getting cancer in my other breast. The decision of what type of surgery to have had been made for me. I would have a bilateral mastectomy.
Now the breast cancer wasn't just about me. My mother and sister had to be tested for the BRCA mutation. Surprisingly, my mother tested negative, but my sister, Susan, tested positive. That meant that we inherited the mutation from our father, who, we assume, got it from his mother, who had breast cancer at the age of 87. Then other family members had to be tested, even our cousin in Israel. So far only my aunt, Sherrie, my father's sister, has also tested positive for the mutation. My sister and aunt both took prophylactic measures to greatly reduce their risks.
After my mastectomy, I had chemotherapy, then 2 more surgeries. It was a rough time for our whole family. The support that John, my family, and friends gave me was humbling, and helped us make it through such a difficult time. But the miracle today is that I am 4 years completely cancer free! John and I are looking forward to enjoying the next 25 years of our marriage together along with our children!
The thought that our children have a 50 percent chance of getting the BRCA mutation is so scary. If positive, even our boys have an increased risk of male breast cancer and prostate cancer, and can pass the genetic mutation on to their children. The miracle here is that the genes have been mapped and the test exists for our children to learn their genetic status and take control of their own destinies!
FORCE - Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered-states that "Knowledge is Power"! I truly believe this. I became involved with FORCE because I wanted to spread awareness and support others going through the same thing that I went through. I also wanted to help empower those affected by Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer. My sister, Susan, and I attended our first FORCE conference in 2011. The experience was amazing! While we gained a great deal of knowledge and felt supported by our fellow attendees, the sense of empowerment we came home with was so uplifting.
We also learned about the Force Hereditary Cancer Research Fund that channels funds to research that specifically focuses on better treatment, detection, and prevention options for Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer. Here is where you can become part of the miracle! Please help us celebrate our 25th anniversary by making a donation to this fund! Help us reach our goal of raising $2500, $100 for each year we've been married!
Thank you for visiting our fundraising page!
Donating through this website is simple, fast and totally secure. It is also the most efficient way to support our fundraising efforts.
Many thanks for your support -- and don't forget to forward this to anyone who you think might want to donate too!
Ellen & John