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This blog chronicles my journey from being someone completely ignorant about the BRCA1 gene mutation to a “previvor” who had to face many decisions, learn many new medical facts and make hard choices with no real good answers to guide them.  The blog is written in chronological order so that you can follow my journey from beginning to end.  Some of the stops along the way may mirror stages or choices you may have encountered.  I hope that it is helpful in some way.

-Lynne

A Brief History

In 2003, I tested positive for the BRCA 1 gene mutation.  Without getting into the medical details, it means that my risk for getting breast or ovarian cancer is much higher than the general population. My mother is a breast (1996) and ovarian (2002) cancer survivor. ...

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Why a blog?

Today I went for a beautiful run in a local reservoir.  As I was running and listening to Adele (my husband is so sick of her that I now have to listen to her songs when I'm alone), I had a great idea.  Most of my brilliant ideas come to me when I’m swimming, biking...

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What this blog isn’t

This blog will NOT focus on the medical information that surrounds this decision.  There are lots of doctors, genetic counselors, websites, message boards, and patients to whom you can talk to find out more about this medical issue.  If you'd like to see a chart that...

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What’s the plan?

Since I'm a "planner," I planned this surgery over nine months ago. The doctors (who I will get to in later posts) and their staff have been amazing as I prepare for this event.  However, I think they thought I was a little nuts when I called in February to schedule a...

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W.O.W. (Words of Wisdom)

I hope to post interesting, thoughtful and kind words that I receive from friends and family members in this space.  This week's lucky winner is Bonnie H. Bonnie is a dear high school friend, who makes me laugh and smile every single time I see her and even when I...

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Why reconstruction?

I have wavered on this topic for many months.  My gut said, "of course reconstruction".  But then I realized how much more surgery and recovery it would be and I panicked. Then I read an article this summer about how silicone breast implants won't last for life and I...

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The kids now know…something

As I was leaving for dinner last night with three of my absolutely wonderful and amazing friends, Leland mentioned that he was going to tell the kids about the surgery. Since we have a long day of pre-op doctors appointments in New York and their schedule was going to...

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Pre-op Marathon

Yesterday was a blur. I went to NY for my pre-op meetings with both doctors (and squeezed in a tasty lunch at a Greek restuaruant we found in Tarrytown, NY). Everything went really well. We had lots of minutia to go over and many questions to get answered.  I was...

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W.O.W.

This week’s W.O.W. comes from my aunt Marge.  She underwent an oopherectomy and PBM (prophylactic bilateral mastecomy) a number of years ago while in her 60s. We made the decision at different times in our lives, and I’m not sure what I would do at your age. I’d...

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From the darkness…and seeing the light

I know this might sound like a morbid title for this week's post.  But I just went hiking with some friends and family at Purgatory Chasm in Sutton, MA.  There was this massive boulder with a giant fissure that provided a very narrow walk space.  (Thankfully I waited...

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Last mammogram

Today was my last mammogram.  I"m not sure how to feel about this.  I have had at least one yearly mammogram since 1996, the year my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer.  Fifteen years of squishing, prodding, turning and pushing my breasts into unimaginable...

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They’re EVERYWHERE!

I remember a long time ago, someone saying to me, "When you"re thinking of buying a white car, you start to see white cars everywhere."  Just when you decide to focus on something, you realize you see that "thing" all the time. That"s where I am right now.  All I...

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Interesting stats

Today's post is in honor of my husband Leland on our 13th wedding anniversary.  And they said it wouldn't last. Tomorrow I am joining a panel discussion at ESPN on Breast Cancer Awareness for their employees.  It is a long (irrelevant) story as to how  I ended up...

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Be The Donkey!

I was talking to my cousin Jill today.  Yes, chatting on the phone.  Really hearing each others voices, laughter and intonations! No texting, no facebooking, not even an email…a real live phone conversation, what a concept.  Okay, I’m off my soap box now.  She called...

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Should they stay or should they go?

Okay, I’m having seriously mixed emotions about this whole “thing.”  I want to think it’s natural to be anxious, and not just getting cold feet. Today, I spoke to my friend Debbie. She is a fellow “BRCA-ite.”  We have a mutual friend who connected us over two years...

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A funny thing happened on the way to surgery…

Well, actually, it's not funny at all. But I thought the title would catch your attention. With six days to go, I was happily minding my own business.  Taking Sofie to her swim meet and getting ready for a neighbor's Halloween party.  All was going along as planned....

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There is strength in them thar hills

I'm talking about the hills of Central Park in New York City.  I ran seven miles on the park roads in 59:41.  That's 8:31 minutes per mile for those of you keeping track at home.  As I ran around the Park, I started to reminisce about my life in New York City...

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The waiting is the hardest part

It's Leland, guest blogging since Lynne is anesthetized at this point. This is the smallest hospital and a very small waiting room.  Luckily, I am alone and can control the volume of  the TV which is on The View (volume:  very low.  Whoopi:  very large). I'd asked a...

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Postcards from the Edge (of Lynne's bed)

4:34 p.m.  One looong nap later, Lynne looks much improved.  Upon arriving in her room, she was rather pale, quite groggy, parched and only semi-lucid.  She dozed off and when she woke up, her color was back, her voice was stronger, her eyes more alert and she could...

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Falling into bed. Literally.

As the first day evolved, Lynne's color and alertness level improved.  She has many different wires, hoses and tubes attached to her, so getting her settled in bed can be challenging.  Plus, going to the bathroom is a medical ballet. The first time Lynne attempted to...

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Walking Ms. Daisy

The morning was a big improvement for Lynne, more alert, and moving much less gingerly.  She continued working her way through a Netflix filmography, watching "Word Wars" about competitive Scrabble players.The hospital has a very clear plan for her recovery.  Today's...

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Is that a smile?

(Note:  Lynne has taken back control over the keyboard) I'm lying here in my hospital bed with the laptop tipped just right so that I don't have to lift my arms up too high to type, listening to Pandora on the iPad.  Jamie had suggested the Cat Steven"s channel and...

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Let my people go!

(It's Leland again…hold the applause) Saturday morning meant 1 thing.  Possible discharge pending the review of the two doctors.  The first one caught us during our morning stroll around the ward.  He was happy with how everything looked.  We then waited three hours...

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I feel yucky

I have finally resurfaced, but barely.  This recovery thing is much harder than I had thought.  We finally left the hospital around 2:00 p.m. on Saturday. I rode in the front seat with a big pillow protecting my swollen, tightly bandaged chest from the seat belt.  I...

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home sweet home

I woke up to a beautiful sunny day in Manhattan and by Noon I was back in what looks like a war-torn West Hartford.  Thankfully the weather is warm and power is being restored, slowly but surely.  We were informed that we had power last night (Sunday) only to wake up...

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What size are you? A 33-gallon or a 45-gallon?

The little things have made this a tough process for Lynne.  Sleeping on her side, wearing a t-shirt, standing or walking for long periods of time are either impossible or incredibly uncomfortable.  Bathing is also off-limits until she heals.  But, sometimes a shower...

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Exorcist Baby (alternate title “Dayenu”)

Upon returning to West Hartford this past Monday, we received a very thoughtful care package of front-button flannel PJs for Lynne.  Inspired, we thought having a second pair would be a good idea, allowing for laundry, spills, etc.  Liz, my mother-in-law, Sofie and...

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Drains!

The four drains in Lynne's surgical area are supposed to be "milked" and emptied 4 times a day.  We've managed to do it three times a day so far.  I've been the farmer and Lynne has been Bessie.  While not the most visually appealing process, I felt that since she...

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Signs of life

As a husband, this has been a challenging time.  Watching Lynne faint, no matter how benign it was, was scary enough. Feeling incredibly limited to do anything of substance to help her as she recovers, other than a few things around the edges was maddening.  The...

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All dressed up with no place to go. Literally.

So, since they officially cancelled Halloween in West Hartford (the mayor said it was too dangerous due to the downed trees and wires), this photo represents the only moment when our family was in costume (photo from Saturday, October 29th).

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What a difference a day makes

While yesterday (Tuesday) was a better day than the previous (Monday), by the time I thought about writing a post, the blues had set in again.  Here is what Tuesday was like: My kids went to school.  That might seem like a mundane fact to most people reading...

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It takes a village

I"m not sure if it"s a good thing or bad that I'm posting.  Leland's posts are so hilarious that I hate to deprive all of you of them.  We are a blogging version of the yin-yang symbol.  Even I enjoy reading them.  I always knew he was funny, but this blog has really...

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False BraVado

I'm now sure how to start this post.  So much has happened in the last 24 hours.  I guess I'll just jump right in. At 11:00 am on Thursday, we drove the 1 hour and 40 minutes to Tarrytown, NY.  I have never been so excited for a 100 minute drive.  As many of you know,...

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The lost art of letter writing

Today was a great day.  And I'm not saying that just because it was 11.11.11.  Although, I have to say that's pretty great too.  Leland is really into doing something on these "special numerological" days and insisted that we do something to commemorate the day.  How...

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I’m proud of me!

This past summer we took a family vacation to a high-falootin' resort in Pennsylvania with the Tapper cousins (17 total).  My son Eli managed to spend many hours and quarters at a variety of arcade games. His favorite, though, also the most frustrating, was "The...

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A Minor Milestone

About two months before my surgery, I found out that my cousin Dani was having a reading of a musical called Class Reunion for which she wrote all of the music and lyrics in New York City on November 18.  I told Dani that if I was feeling up to it, I really wanted to...

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The New Normal

Just for "shits and giggles" (to quote Leland), we decided to hit the local Mall the day BEFORE Thanksgiving for some Chanukah shopping.  It's Black Wednesday, didn't you know?  Anyway, it is my goal to avoid the Mall from now until December 26th.  Not...

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Giving Thanks for Thanksgiving

(It's Leland) This is a nice holiday, though not one that cracks my top 5 (Flag Day, Chanukah, Purim, Halloween and Arbor Day, not in that order).  But, I do love the Peanuts cartoon and have a soft-spot for cranberry relish.  There is something nice about a holiday...

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Good riddance November

Today marks the fifth week in a row that we have driven to the great state of New York and back (sometimes in one day). That's a record for us in the eight years we've lived in Connecticut. We went for the 4 week post-op with my plastic surgeon on Tuesday. I was very...

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I can see clearly now the pain is gone

At my four-week post op appointment, the plastic surgeon told us that patients notice significant improvement at six weeks and then again at 12 weeks. Now that I'm at six weeks, I thought I'd share some observations about how I'm doing. What surgery? There are times...

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Goodbye 2011…Hello 2012

Today is Saturday, December 31st...the final day of 2011.  I have to say that while I am not big on wishing time away, I am happy to see 2011 end. The year was filled with some wonderful activities, events and weather (yes, Irene and Historic October Snowstorm, I"m...

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Full Steam Ahead

While Thursday officially marks my 12-week post-surgery date, today was my 3-month post op appointment in Tarrytown, NY. Before I go into too many details about today's appointment, let me go back about two weeks.  On January 12th, I emailed Courtney Dunavant, Dr....

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Feeling Whole at the Half

On Sunday, April 15th, I completed the More Magazine/Fitness Magazine Women's Half Marathon in Central Park in New York City.  Having lived in Manhattan for 12 years, running in Central Park was nothing new. And I've been running races for 22 years, so running was...

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Yesterday’s News

In late January, as many regular blog readers know, I was finally given clearance to start swimming again. My first swim was on January 27.  Other than noticing that I filled out my bathing suit a bit more, the swim workout itself didn’t feel very different from the...

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Just when I thought I was out…they pull me back in!

Although what I am about to write is far from funny, I am reminded of a joke that I learned when I was a kid.  We used to tell this joke so much, that we would just use the punch line and it still got a big laugh. The Captain called the Sergeant in. "Sarge, I just got...

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The Waiting Is the Hardest Part – Part III

[Full disclosure.  It's Leland.] Monday June 3rd was cleanse day for Lynne.  New sheets, new PJs, special soap for her first of two pre-surgery showers.  She also had to drink magnesium citrate, which, from the look on her face, tasted as good as it sounded. This was...

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On the recovery road

I wasn't going to post anything until I got the results from my pathology report next Monday, July 16th, but Leland said that I should let people know how I'm doing, recovery-wise. Four full days post surgery and I am proud to say that I am feeling surprisingly good,...

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Burying the lead

"In India, we have a saying: Everything will be alright in the end. So if it's not alright, it is not yet the end." Although I've never seen the movie, my friend was telling me about this great quote as it related to something that was happening in her office a few...

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On the road again

Since my last post on July 16th, I have literally and figuratively hit the ground running.  Physically I am feeling stronger and stronger every day.  For all of this I am truly grateful. As I reflect on the summer of 2012, I feel as though I've been given a gift.  The...

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When Angelina won’t return your phone calls

I started this blog, stemming from my BRCA1 status, to record the journey I took from the decision to have surgery through my recovery. I wanted to share it with as many friends and family members that were interested.  I wanted to be "public" about decisions I made...

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The Half Iron Triathlon I Never Thought I’d Do

Those of you who have been following this blog know that one of the challenges with which I struggled, besides the obvious medical ones, was wondering if I would ever return to the level of competition in running and triathlons that I had achieved pre-surgeries.  I am...

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Iron Man Triathlon. Done.

You know what they say, "When one blog closes, another blog opens." Wait, I think that's about windows, but anyway, you get the point. In August 2014, I completed my first IronMan Triathlon. I kept a blog, My Iron Year, detailing my experience. Moving on in my...

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