The entire SDA Dance Family mourns the loss of Chuck Crist. He was such an amazing individual who loved others so fiercely. The number of lives he touched and memories he created was immeasurable. Although he was an integral part of Starpower, our loss goes much deeper, as we have lost a brother and a true friend.
I am a firm believer that knowledge is power. When you have knowledge, often you are presented with options.
My mom, Jeanne was one of kind. She was a significant contributor, from the beginning, helping to set the foundation for Starpower. She was also diagnosed with Breast Cancer at the young age of 35, and then received a bilateral mastectomy with reconstructive surgery at diagnosis. At the time I was only 3 years old. She had a good run of healthy years, even with the cancer still in her lymphatic system. However, in 1992 the cancer came back with a bang, filling her lungs with fluid and spreading to other organs. She fought hard, and finally passed 4 years later.
My mom’s side of the family was riddled with cancers of all types, so I decided to educate myself, seeking to understand my options as it pertained to my own health. I started with regular self-breast exams, clinical breast exams every 6 months, mammograms, and MRI’s. I then made the decision to be tested for the different types of genetic mutations that can increase your risk of ovarian, breast, and other cancers. Since my Mom’s Sister had already been tested and was negative for the mutations, I was fairly confident I would be as well.
My test results came back, and I am a true X-woman. I have the BRAC-2 Genetic Mutation. This greatly increases my chance of Breast and Ovarian Cancer which terrified me beyond belief. Again, since knowledge is power, I made the life changing decision to receive a prophylactic bilateral mastectomy with reconstructive surgery. I thought long and hard, met with doctors, and talked with other women with similar experiences. I felt empowered and confident in my decision. It was a very difficult surgery, but I could not chance my daughter or my husband experiencing what I went through with my mom.
I was incredibly grateful, being in a position to take control of my situation. If you have a strong family history of Ovarian or Breast Cancer, you have options. The blood test is simple and most insurances cover the expense, if there is a family history of cancer. Genetic counselors are rich with knowledge and resources. There are also less drastic options than the path I chose. You have to find what’s best for you.
I am amazed at the number of women I have spoken to, who aren’t receiving regular mammograms, and who are unaware of all the preventative options that are available. If I can help even one woman with my story, then I have succeeded. I am grateful for the knowledge I have, and I am grateful to be alive, healthy, happy, and doing what I love in this wonderful world of dance.
My goal is to help more women be inspired to gain knowledge and strength!
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