Editor’s note: Robynn Love is a producer with HLN’s “Evening Express.”
May 22, 2004 was the worst day of my life.
My mother, my soul mate, my best friend died of ovarian cancer. And I was staring into my future.
After my mother’s diagnosis, my family began to connect the dots. My grandmother battled breast cancer not once, but twice. My mother’s sister bravely fought and won her breast cancer battle. Then came my mom’s terminal diagnosis. We decided it was time to see what was going on and do genetic testing.
The writing was already on the wall. My mother and aunt were positive, and so was I.
Sheer panic set in as soon as I heard the words leave my doctor’s mouth. I saw my mother suffering from this insidious disease…
So many questions flooded my mind: Would I die? Could I have children? How soon would I get cancer? How come I got the BRCA 2 (breast cancer susceptibility gene 2) gene mutation? It was all too much. Women in their 20s aren’t supposed to worry about dying from cancer.
Even worse was the guilt that racked my sick mother, and I felt like she had given it to me. Only years later did I realize that my mother gave me life. The genetic testing came too late for my grandmother, aunt and mother. It wasn’t too late for me. My mom would always say she would die for me; turns out she died of cancer for me.
Very quickly, I decided I would get the preventative surgery in the future to save my own life. And as I begin the long process toward losing my breasts and my ovaries, I am filled with a mix of emotions. I am petrified of the procedure and the pain, excited for the life I will be handed back post-surgery, and hopeful of what lies ahead without the constant cancer worry that swarms my brain now.
I was lucky enough to get the positive diagnosis in my 20s. I was able to have a daughter of my own and try to be as good of a mother to her as my mom was to me. I now worry about my daughter’s chances of testing positive for the gene, just as my mom worried about me.
There is a chance the cancer stops with me, so I choose to stay positive. I feel lucky every day that I will get to be a mother for a long time. My daughter will not feel the anguish of me leaving her too soon. She is stuck with me and I will live to find my gray hairs, and see my grandchildren. My mom wasn’t so lucky.
I refuse to be kept quiet by this silent killer.