Tuesday, March 7, 2017
NothingPink, Kelly Kashmer:
I hung up and realized that the results were from a test she had recommended, one that I had taken two weeks prior at my OB/GYN’s office. Because I threw away the pamphlet she gave me, I didn’t know what BRCA2+ meant. I recalled seeing magazine articles while in line at Target about Angelina Jolie, but in all honesty, that was it. What did it mean? Well, it basically meant that my chances of ever developing breast or ovarian cancer were significantly increased compared to the general population.
Although my husband and I already had two beautiful, healthy girls, I just wasn’t ready to make a decision for surgery. I didn’t know if, once they were both in grade school, my heart would ache for babies again. My husband thankfully worked through this decision with me, and we decided together that I would undergo screening for two years and revisit the decision again in the future.Now, as you can imagine, as a mom, these appointments started lining up, and I was scrambling to make the time work to go to them during my window of 9-12 preschool, not to mention hoping to find someone who would be able to watch my younger daughter, Karalynn, so that she wouldn’t be with me during these daunting appointments.
My friend, Lara, came with me to a few as I had no idea what to expect. I had never had an MRI or a mammogram, so it was very new to me. And then everything changed: the baseline scans that I went in for revealed something I could never have prepared myself for. Rather than having a clear result to use as a baseline to compare to scans in later years, I was informed that I already had Stage II Triple Negative breast cancer.
My life forever changed. I didn’t have any signs or symptoms of cancer. There was no lump, no illness. Nothing was red, nothing inflamed. I was simply a 31-year-old with two small children who was told if I had waited 6 months, I wouldn’t be here writing these words to you.
Over the course of these last three years of my life, we, as a family, have gone down a very dark road of chemotherapy, surgeries, infections, blood transfusions, etc. My faith, family, and friends have pulled me through, as there were times I was too weak or ill to go on.
1. If you don’t get screening, genetic counseling, or testing for yourself (because you are a typical mom who always puts everyone first!), DO IT FOR YOUR KIDS! This information is crucial to the lifestyle we live now. My sweet daughters already have a strike against them. Now, it’s my responsibility to do everything I can to make sure we are living a healthy lifestyle.2. Your kids will have this information when they are older. It was extremely difficult for my family to find information regarding my grandmothers’ causes of death because they didn’t share these conversations with anyone. We later discovered that my grandmother and aunt, on my father’s side, both died of ovarian cancer.
3. God made us from two people. The BRCA gene was actually passed down from my father. Although your Primary Care and Ob/Gyn will typically discuss family history based on the maternal side of your family, it’s important to remember that God made us from two people and our genetic makeup comes from both sides.
As a result of my BRCA journey, and the information I gained along the way, I founded NothingPink. NothingPink is a non-profit organization local to Fort Mill, South Carolina. Our mission is simple: bring awareness, education, and financial assistance to those who are in need of genetic testing for hereditary breast and ovarian cancers.
This BRCA genetic test saved my life, and my personal goal is to help the women (and men!) of our community understand why taking that first step of meeting with a genetic counselor is so important. And remember, if you don’t do it for yourself, do it for your kids!
For further information on BRCA genetic testing, please visit www.NothingPink.org, and/or contact any of the professionals below:
200 Hawthorne Lane
Charlotte, NC 28204
Stacy Lenarcic, MS, CGC
Cancer Genetic Counselor
Carolinas Medical Center
1021 Morehead Medical Drive
Charlotte, NC 28204
Ashley Migliaro, MS, CGC
CaroMont Cancer Center
2525 Court Drive
Gastonia, NC 28054
P.S. NothingPink will be having their (ladies only!) annual fundraising event on April 1st! It is called “Crumpets, Cocktails, and Croquet,” and will include a garden party and croquet tournament at 2:00 pm and a cocktail reception at 3:30 pm. For more information, and to purchase tickets, please visit HERE.