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Tricia Andron is a 38-year-old mother and wife who was diagnosed with breast cancer two years ago. Every fall, in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness month, Tricia chronicles her experiences-from first learning about her cancer diagnosis to undergoing chemotherapy, losing her hair, reconstructive surgery and beyond-all while taking care of her toddler, Grace.
Tricia and Lee’s engagement celebration
Tricia's Blog Part 1 - At First You Cry...Tricia Andron is a 36-year-old mother and wife that has been diagnosed with breast cancer. Read the first installment of her special story.
Life moved quickly and blissfully for four beautiful years, a span of time when I met and married my husband Lee, to buying a new house, having a career and busy travel schedule, to the birth of our daughter, Grace, in June 2010. It was the happiest time of my life.
From my OB/GYN's office, where they confirmed the lump, I went through a whirlwind of mammograms, biopsies and tests that confirmed the tumor was not benign. The doctor showed me a photo and told me the tumor had blood flowing into it and I immediately had a sinking feeling.
The next two weeks I waited and did the best I could to put it out of my mind. In the back of my head, I knew what I was going to hear, but I kept going through the daily motions. Work was busy and I was actively involved in a lot of projects that I was enjoying so I focused on work and continued to make plans for our vacation.
On June 29th, while walking down the hallway at work on my way to a meeting, my cell phone rang. When the nurse on the other end of the phone told me that the cells were cancerous, I fell to my knees sobbing. A friend ran to my side and asked what was wrong. I told her, "I have breast cancer." I couldn't believe the words that I was saying or the fact that I would forever remember this friend's face, this hallway at work and this moment in time that would change my life forever.
The next few days were a fog. I had so many questions and an overwhelming sense of disbelief. I thought, "I'm only 36!" We had been planning on trying for our second baby in the fall and we had an amazing vacation planned and were leaving in 3 weeks. I didn't know the impact of my diagnosis or how bad the cancer was, and felt helpless with the lack of information. Luckily my OB/GYN was associated with Beth Israel Deaconess, the Harvard Medical School teaching hospital, which is one of the best in the country. He was able to quickly set up a meeting with a breast surgeon, where I would begin to get some answers.
At our first meeting with the breast surgeon, we were off and running. We had appointments set up for MRI's, CT Scans, body scans, and an appointment with an oncologist. As I spoke with the breast surgeon, she asked if I had a history of breast cancer in my family. Pre-menopausal breast cancer, like mine, was generally aggressive, and oftentimes genetic. In the back of my mind, I recalled that two of my older cousins had had breast cancer at a young age, and that my grandmother's sisters had died of the disease. I vaguely remembered a conversation with my mother about genetic testing. At the time, I was in my twenties and didn't think anything of it. I immediately made an appointment with a genetic counselor. In addition to genetic testing, the surgeon recommended that I meet with a fertility specialist.
Fertility specialist? I got pregnant easily the first time, and was looking forward to adding to our family. I assumed that I would not be able to breastfeed as I did with Grace, but hadn't considered that I might face fertility issues. I've since found out that chemotherapy leaves you with a 50/50 chance of being infertile afterward. If I wanted some insurance that I would be able to have another pregnancy, the doctor recommended that I harvest my eggs.
With so many questions and so few answers, our trip to Greece was in question. After meeting with the genetic counselor and reviewing my family history, it was predicted that my chance to have a mutation in the BRCA 1 or BRCA 2 gene was 66%. Having this genetic mutation would mean that I would be 60% more likely to develop cancer in my other breast, as well as a chance of developing ovarian cancer later in life. If I tested positive for this mutation, I would be facing a double mastectomy.
The doctor recommended removing my ovaries by the age of 40, due to the higher risk of developing uterine cancer. Additionally, my daughter would have a 50/50 chance of having the mutation if I tested positive. I left the office with a heavy heart, feeling an intense sense of guilt that I may have passed this illness along to my baby girl. Tricia Andron is a 38-year-old mother and wife who was diagnosed with breast cancer two years ago. Every fall, in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness month, Tricia chronicles her experiences-from first learning about her cancer diagnosis to undergoing chemotherapy, losing her hair, reconstructive surgery and beyond-all while taking care of her toddler, Grace.