Previvor Mom

September 4, 2018 by Tracy Milgram-Posner
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Tracy with her kids.

There’s no doubt that being a Previvor is challenging. Although we have not been diagnosed with cancer, just knowing that someday out of the blue cancer can appear in our bodies is frightening. However, it becomes even more frightening when you have two children whom you love so much, and they love and depend on you.

I always knew I wanted my own children, and carrying the BRCA gene mutation was not going to stop me from having and raising my own children. I also knew that once I had my children, I would then do all the necessary procedures and surgeries to lessen my chances of being a host for cancer.

Being that my children are still so young, I tried to do things regarding my surgeries undercover. I did my best not to worry my children about my surgeries and gene mutation, especially because they were both so young. I assumed it would be best if I didn’t mention anything until after the surgeries or at least until they were old enough to understand it all.

However, there’s always one loose strand of thread that can be pulled at any moment. A few days before my surgery, a friend/family member let it slip to Gabby, my daughter who was six at the time, that I was going to have surgery.

She was worried and that made me feel bad. Not only because she heard it from somebody else that I was having surgery, but also because I knew she would be scared just as I was. I assured her that everything would turn out fine and that she had nothing to worry about. The doctors would make me feel better.

To my surprise, she took my word. Not that I had doubts that things would go wrong, but I thought it would take a little more convincing for her to understand. But nope! She understood, and mostly just wanted to comfort and support me.

After all the preventative surgeries I definitely felt like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders. However, I was incredibly weak for a much longer time than expected, unable to do all the activities I used to do with my children. Taking them to their after-school activities and being there to support them was put on hold and they took notice.

But again, to my surprise, not only did my daughter show me great strength and support but so did my son who was 2 years old at the time. Two days post-op Gabby looked at me and said “Mommy, you are flat-chested, what happened?” I was blown away that she put two and two together. Of course, my son didn’t exactly understand what was going on and why I was on bed rest for three months, but just as my daughter, he was by my side.

Almost every night he would come to my bedside and care for me, making sure I was okay. They are my sweet angels and I don’t know where I would have been without them.

My daughter told me shortly after my surgeries, “Mommy, you are like a butterfly. You have gone through different phases and now you are beautiful again.” I cried and fully embraced her, telling her how much of a compliment that was for me.

I saved the crying for later since I didn’t want to worry her, but I did hug her with all my might and told her how grateful I was to have them both my side through it all.

Having her know about the surgeries turned out better than I imagined. With every new challenge I face, she has new questions. She is extremely curious about my journey and what she might have to look forward to in the future. However, I assure her that she will be alright just as I am, and that when she’s a bit older, we will have a more in-depth talk about it.

During my recovery, I realized just how blessed I am to have two amazing children who are stronger than I could ever hope for. They give me the strength to go on every day and have pushed me through my journey and made sure to tell me to never give up. I am truly thankful to have them as my children.

 

Like many women, Tracy Milgram-Posner has a long family history of breast and ovarian cancer. Nervous about her own chances of developing the disease, she underwent testing for the BRCA gene mutation in her early 20s and learned she was a carrier for the BRCA2 gene mutation. After the stress of having an MRI and/or ultrasound/mammogram every six months, Tracy underwent a hysterectomy and a prophylactic bilateral mastectomy. And from this experience, BRCAStrong was born to support, educate, inspire and empower Previvors and Survivors, to eliminate the feeling of isolation.            

BRCAStrong strives to alleviate the emotional and financial burdens of women facing genetically predisposed breast and/or ovarian cancer through advocacy, direct assistance, empowerment, fundraising initiatives and events.