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PA Fan Inspiration: Defying Destiny with a Positive Attitude

PA Fan Inspiration: Defying Destiny with a Positive Attitude

Positive Attitude loves to learn about our fans, and how having a positive attitude has impacted and improved their lives.   Their journeys inspire, motivate and spread the power of positivity to others, helping them overcome their own challenges and face all obstacles.  Today we would like to share with you a courageous  journey of a brave young woman determined to defy the odds, and control her own destiny.   Rachel Baron, the beloved cousin of Positive Attitude founder, David Nachman, armed with the love and support of her friends and family, and the memory of her mother’s strength, will, and unbelievable positive attitude, in the form of a letter to her loved ones, has been brave enough to share her story with us.  We are very honored to now have the opportunity to share her story with you:
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From: Rachel B.

To: The People I Love

Friends and Family-

I want to share an important decision I have made. At 37 years old, I am undergoing a preventative double mastectomy with reconstruction and a prophylactic hysterectomy. This surgery will ultimately enable me to defy my destiny. I want to share this with you, the people I love the most, since I 100% believe that knowledge is power.

My maternal grandmother, who I never met, was diagnosed in her 30s with breast cancer and died at 37. My mother was always diligent about mammograms and was always nervous about breast cancer. It was not until she was diagnosed at age 50 with stage 3c ovarian cancer in 2002 that she learned about the BRCA gene mutation, specifically that she was a carrier of BRCA-1 which affects the body’s ability to suppress tumors in the breast and ovaries. This past summer, I learned I was also a BRCA-1 carrier.

The facts are this: I carry a lifetime risk of around 87% of getting breast cancer and around a 54-60% chance of developing ovarian cancer, the latter of which happens to be the deadliest and hardest to catch of all cancers in women. Even worse, women with the BRCA-1 gene are more likely to develop these cancers before menopause. To put this in perspective: the normal population has a 13% lifetime risk of breast cancer and 1.5% chance of ovarian cancer.

My mother’s gift to Stacey and I was the knowledge that she was BRCA-1 positive. Stacey and I made a pact to only do the BRCA test after we were done having children. Prior to that, we were regularly screened with CA-125 blood tests and transvaginal ultrasounds from the time of our mother’s diagnosis- the only tests currently used for ovarian cancer- but neither is particularly effective in detecting what is often referred to as the “silent killer” of women.

Six months ago, Stacey tested negative for the BRCA gene mutations. We were so relieved. I always felt I was positive, even though one has nothing to do with the other. I felt I had my mom’s genes – I have her funny thumbs and her body type (minus the gym addict in her). Sure enough, I tested positive for one of the three gene mutations affecting Ashkenazi Jews. Another startling fact: 1 in 40 Ashkenazi Jews carries a BRCA gene mutation- nearly 10 times the rate of the general population- making Jewish families dramatically more susceptible to these diseases.

Now that I have this information, I wasted no time in dealing with my reality. I will undergo a hysterectomy at NYU on September 4th, the eve of Rosh Hashanah. I feel good about this date as my new chance leads me into the Jewish New Year. The surgery will be done laparoscopically and I will be released the next day. I will be able to walk the next day and hopefully feel well enough to work that next Monday. However, I cannot pick up Billie and Blake for 4-6 weeks post surgery. A small, small price to pay for my future. I will undergo a double mastectomy with reconstruction at NYU in early January (the recoup from this is actually more intense than the hysterectomy). A second procedure called an “exchange” will be performed several months later to insert permanent implants (that’s an out-patient procedure). Doing these surgeries will reduce my risk of related cancers to less than 5%.

The hardest part of all of this for me is the fact my mother only knew about the BRCA test AFTER she was sick. There I was taking this genetic test at 37, knowing that I possibly had this issue, and all it took was swishing around mouthwash and spitting it into a test tube. How I wish my mom had that chance. She would have been around to see me marry Josh, Stacey give birth to Dylan, me give birth to Billie and Blake and how she would have loved to see her first granddaughter (the light of her life) grow into the most beautiful five year old I know. How I wish she had the chance I have.

You will ask me what you can do. My biggest hope is that you learn, share the information and get tested if you need to. What else? Not much, Call Josh and see if he needs anything if I am driving him crazy.

I am good, I promise. I have been given a crystal ball to see my future. I am lucky- I believe this. Am I scared? Some days, yes, but so worth it. I have the strong support of my husband, my dad, my amazing sister, brother-in-laws and sister-in-law, my in-laws, my extended family, my beautiful friends and the new friends who are on the other side of this. I also have the memory of my mother’s strength, her unbelievable will and her kick-ass attitude. I hear her voice in my head daily: I can do this. She is, and was, my hero. My mother was not given this chance therefore I must take it. I must do this.

I also have Josh, Blake and Billie… I don’t need another reason than three of them. They are everything.

I love you all.

Thank you for loving me.
Best,
Rachel

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*UPDATE:  Update, Rachel is having her Preventative Bilateral Mastectomy on Tuesday January 21st
*UPDATE:  Rachel had her surgery and feels good!  She’s on her way home!  
*UPDATE:  Rachel is home and doing well! 
photo11
Photo Credit: 
Photographer: Merri Cyr
Make-up: Cheyenne Timperio
Hair: Sonila Bello

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Positive Attitude is a community dedicated to sharing stories and spreading positivity around the world to help inspire, motivate and push people to try their best and always see the best in all situations, no matter how difficult life may be.

17 Comments

  1. When you wish upon a star! Disney is legendary!

    Reply
  2. Best wishes to you! Thank you for sharing your story!

    Reply
  3. Meg Dieter passed your story on to me and then sent me the link. My first thought was that I hoped you already had children and thank goodness you do. I am touched by your courage. My son, Meg and your story have convinced me to get tested. Thank you for sharing your story!

    Reply
  4. my sister,
    you have always been a positive force in this universe.i am sending love and positivity to you and your family.recover quickly and i hope to see you and the family soon!peace and love
    pauley

    Reply
  5. Sending Positive Thoughts your way!

    Reply
  6. Rachel – Let’s just say I know exactly what you’re going through right now. I was 28 when I found out I was carrying the gene. At 35, single with no children, I opted to have the bilateral mastectomy and recon. Haven’t looked back! Hope for a fast recovery!!

    Reply
  7. You have always radiated love, kindness, and a genuine passion for living life happily. I am thankful that your mom passed on the knowledge that has enabled you to have a choice in the battle against cancer. You just passed on her legacy of love by sharing your journey-thank you!

    Reply
  8. Well done Rachel! So proud of your decision and your positive approach to life. Keep it up!

    Reply
  9. Rachel: Love and support going out to you from one BRCA1 positive gal to another.
    Focus on your healing now! We all need to keep sharing our stories. Knowledge is power…and as we both know can be lifesaving. XOXO

    Reply
  10. Rachel….I think it is wonderful how you have continued to share this journey. It definitely encourages others to get tested and makes the whole process less scary. We have shared your story with others and it has affected THEIR decision to get the information they need. Your story lives on!

    Reply
  11. Rachel,

    Your story gave me goose bumps! I am in awe. You are an amazing, beautiful, strong, young lady. I’m so happy you shared your story. I am sending you positive and warm thoughts your way from Ohio. Praying you have a speedy recovery so you can hold those babies again soon :)

    Pam

    Reply
  12. Wishing you all good things. Your braveness and courage are greatly admired. I am going for my genetic testing tomorrow and after reading this my entire attitude has changed. My mother passed away from ovarian cancer 2.5 yrs ago at 67.
    Sending positive healing thoughts your way.

    Reply
  13. Rachel
    You are an amazing person. Your story touches all of us and is one to be passed around.
    I love “your glass is half full/positive attitude” . Your courageous decision will inspire others &
    give you a long and happy life to enjoy with your wonderful family. Speedy recovery.
    Jill :)

    Reply
  14. So proud of you!!

    Reply
  15. Rachel , you are a inspiration to all of us. I am hoping your recovery will be an easy one, made easier with the love and support of your family and all of your amazing friends. I love you and I am so grateful that you made this life saving decision. love, laurel.

    Reply
  16. Wow! great story… wishing you the very best of outcomes and kudos for sharing your story and being brave :)

    Reply
    • So proud of you!!

      Reply

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