I’m BRCA2 positive and do a lot of advocacy work for women like me who are at a higher risk of developing breast and/or ovarian cancers during our lifetimes than the general population (87% lifetime chance for breast cancer and close to 50% lifetime chance for ovarian cancer). Being the daughter of an incredibly strong breast cancer fighter—my mother is currently in the midst of her third battle with the disease, a fight that has spanned three decades—I took action when I learned of my mutation and almost immediately underwent a bilateral prophylactic mastectomy and a total hysterectomy.
I’m considered unique in the community of “previvors” (that’s what we mutants call ourselves) because I opted not to have reconstruction surgery after my mastectomy. That means I am flat—totally flat (which is why loose, flowy tops look so good on me!). My body’s renovation and my resulting sense of empowerment have led me to be a vocal and visible resource for the cause. I field telephone calls from women who have questions about surgery and help women in their recovery process—I think I heal a little more each time I speak with someone and hear them start to laugh through their tears and fears. I did a graphic, scars-and-all shoot that circulated nationwide in an article in Fitness magazine last October and flashed across TV screens during two CNN interviews. I am ridiculously proud of it for another reason, too: It shows my six-pack, which is something I can brag about in the Army (my chosen profession).