Today we’d like to introduce you to Katie Roberts.
Katie, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
Cancer. That word feels like a punch to the gut. As a young child, I knew that Cancer had been the disease that took my grandma. I knew it was the disease that caused most of her sisters to die as well. I knew that cancer was the reason my dad didn’t have his mom. As I continued to grow, I knew cancer as the disease that my Aunts and some of my cousins were battling. Did I fully understand it… not really? As a teen, I knew what it was and could comprehend it from a basic book view-but that’s about it. I knew it was ugly. I knew it sucked the life out of my Aunt. I knew the reality of survival and reoccurrence. My parents encouraged me to do self-exams since breast cancer was so prominent in our family. I did do my own exams and knew that the only chance I had was early detection. That’s it. The goal as a teen and a young 20-something was to “catch it while it was small” to give me the best odds of survival and minimal treatment. Really? Wait around? Hope I find something small and hope it’s slow growing? That’s it? Well… that just sucks!
Fast forward to 2017. I am 35 years old, a wife, and a mother of 4 children. I know that most of my family members were diagnosed in their 30’s-40’s which means that the time is now. Here I am…still waiting to find that small lump and hoping that I catch it early enough. Luckily, there is now something I can do about it! With the progression of gene therapy, I now have the opportunity to get tested for the brca gene mutation. This testing would open doors for me to have more frequent exams, mammograms, and prevention options. No more waiting to find a lump! I decided to get tested for this gene mutation. I knew that the mutation did in fact run in my family, so the chances that I had it were not in my favor. I knew deep down that I probably had this gene mutation, and sure enough-I did!
I was given the option to do surveillance and have MRI’s and mammograms every 6 months.
That’s as bad as waiting to find that lump.
Instead, I opted to have a Prophylactic Bilateral Mastectomy. I decided to prevent breast cancer by removing the breeding ground for breast cancer to grow. I removed my breast tissue.
I cut off my boobs.
Some may say that a mastectomy is a crazy choice when you don’t actually have cancer… but when your odds are up to 87% genetically of getting breast cancer AND your family history is full of diagnosis after diagnosis, I would argue that NOT having the mastectomy would be crazy!
It’s not a choice that every mutant would make (yes, I’m a mutant… with a really lame superpower of “most likely to get cancer”) but it was the right choice for me!
While my reconstruction journey was anything but uneventful… I was so relieved afterwards and I felt like a big weight was lifted off of me. It was so comforting to know that my odds were now about 5% instead of up to 87%.
I want to grow old. I want to watch my kids grow. I want to see my grandchildren and great-grandchildren. I chose prevention for me. I chose it for my family. I chose it for my future family. I chose to be proactive for my health and my future.
I hope to encourage my kids to be aware of their risks and be aware of the options they have. Not only for their health, but also for their children’s health. Each generation has a 50/50 chance of having the gene mutation. It is up to us to be aware and make the right decisions for our bodies.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
My journey has been a roller coaster! A thrill ride! My mastectomy did its job and reduced my chances of getting breast cancer. Successful! The whole “getting my boobs back” was quite a challenge though! Breast Reconstruction is no joke. It takes time and patience. My five month expected time frame ended up turning into a 14-month process. 🙄 Unfortunately, I had complications with surgery that resulted in infection.
It’s one of the risks anyone takes when having surgery.
Sure, I went through a period of being a uniboob. Oh yeah… it’s hilarious now-but at the time, I wasn’t laughing. Do you know how awkwardly a shirt fits when you only have 1 boob?
I have pictures.
They don’t fit right.
To make a long story short… I have my implants now and my boobs are even and I’m done with reconstruction. Everything worked out in the end and I have great results despite all of the complications.
My shirts fit great too!
My advice to anyone going through a rough patch is… this is not the end of your story. Push through, surround yourself with supportive people, and change your attitude.
I’m not saying be happy that you lost a boob.
I sure wasn’t. I was angry and sad, and frustrated.
I’m saying… take a day or two and feel those feelings. Then, keep going.
ATTITUDE can change your whole day and make your rough patches more bearable. A positive attitude is what helped me get through the hard times.
Please tell us about your business.
I am privileged and proud to be a stay at home mom. I love being around my kids and not missing out on anything! I bake as a hobby and sometimes do special occasion cakes for people I know.
I enjoy reaching out to others who have questions about mastectomies or genetic testing. I had a lot of help along the way from people around me, and I am willing to help out others as well!
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: ktandersonroberts
Nicole Carpenter Photography