Monthly Archives: March 2017

BRCA Journey Part 2

Friends, I am so overwhelmed by your love and support for me and my little family. I’ve always known that I have the best friends in the world and you just keep confirming it over and over. Thank you for all of your offers to help when we need it, phone calls to check in on us, texts, gifts and prayers. I love you more than I could ever say.


So, here’s the rundown.

On Thursday morning at 6:30am I opened the car door to start on my way to St. Louis. My dreamboat of a husband surprised me with a birthday/road-trip basket in the front seat complete with snacks for the journey, hand written bday card, and FitBit. 

Swoon! He’s a keeper. I had to run back inside and give him another smooch before leaving.
 


I popped in my favorite ‘Jimmy Eat World’ mix and headed toward St. Louis for my first doctor’s appointment. I stopped in Rolla to pick up my Aunt Renee (my Mom’s sister) and we zipped on up to the Women’s Oncology Center. (Thanks for coming along Renee! It was so great spending time with you and meant a ton having you there.)

We met with Dr. Kevin Easley, a Gynecological Oncologist, and discussed my BRCA1 status and desire to start preventative procedures. Dr. Easley was great; I felt very comfortable with him and his entire staff. He jokingly deemed me a ‘boring’ patient (a good thing!) and went over my options.

  • Have tubes and ovaries removed only (salpingo-oophorectomy). There are some possible pros to electing to choose just this procedure, but a major con is that it leaves a higher risk for peritoneal cancer (cancer of the stomach lining).

  • Have a complete hysterectomy (removal of uterus & cervix) as well as a salpingo-oophorectomy.


To reduce my risk as much as possible I have opted for a complete hysterectomy with salpingo-oophorectomy. Dr. Easley went over the entire surgical procedure which will be done laparoscopically and will most likely be an out patient procedure. A biopsy will be done on what is removed while I am still under anesthesia to verify that no cancer is present. We don’t anticipate finding any cancer; the biopsy is just standard procedure. If cancer is found in a patient during surgery the Dr. can immediately begin a more intense treatment immediately while the patient is still under anesthesia.

So, my surgery date is set for late June. I could have the procedure done earlier, but we have a family trip set for April. Also, in early June my dad is getting married to his sweetheart, Donna, and I do not want to miss out on wedding planning!! Josh will be taking a week off for the surgery and Dad and Donna will be spending their 2nd honeymoon taking care of me and my boys (so romantic!). Knowing that PapaDonna (as the 3 year old calls them) will be here during this time puts me at so much ease. We are so incredibly blessed by them.

My next step is to find a breast surgeon to discuss the possibility of a double mastectomy. This is a little bit trickier for me as the surgery and recovery is much more intense and there are so many options for reconstruction. It’s a bit overwhelming, but I believe God will guide us through all of this just as He does in everything else.

Josh and I have complete and total trust in God throughout all of this. Our faith is a huge part of keeping us grounded and in helping us not let fear overcome us. We don’t believe in making decisions based on fear, but we do believe that God has given us wisdom to help guide us. We don’t have all of the answers and we haven’t made all of the decisions yet, but we have total peace about being proactive. We’ll do our part and trust God for the rest.

If you feel led to, please join us in praying for the following:

  • An uncomplicated, boring surgery with a speedy recovery.
  • Wisdom and peace for decisions we will be making in the future.

  • That this guy will pick up on potty training quickly and with ease. Eeeeek! We’ve just started and he’s not much of a fan. Hopefully he’ll have it locked down by June.

  • That this guy will be weaned from nursing soon. I’ve been “trying” to wean him for a while, but he’s my last baby. Momma is having a harder time with it than he is.
  • My biggest concern is how my body will be affected after surgery. I’ll be thrown into menopause, but I don’t know what that will look like for me. It’s harder on some women than others. Please pray that I adjust easily.


***If you are concerned that your family might have a BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation the best thing to do is get test. You can call the cancer center at your local hospital and ask if they offer testing or call an oncology center in your area. If you live in the South Eastern Missouri area The Women’s Oncology Center offers BRCA testing and genetic counselors are available to go over your results with you.***

I can’t say enough how much we appreciate you all and all of the encouragement you’ve given us. We are just the luckiest.

BRCA Journey Part 1

On July 4th 1998 I stood on the front porch of my parent’s house in Maysville, KY and cut off my 46 year old mother’s thinning hair. Earlier that year Mom had been diagnosed with stage 3 ovarian cancer. She fought hard for the next 10 years, taking every chemo treatment available until the treatments ran out along with Mom’s time here on earth.

Mom's haircut

I’m not sure what spurred it on, a nudge from her doctors or just her own curiosity, but Mom started researching our family history of cancer and found that her father’s side of the family was drenched in breast cancer, ovarian cancer and stomach cancer (most likely ovarian as well). Years later her half sister, Sandy, was also diagnosed.

In 2002 Mom underwent BRCA genetic testing to see if our family’s history of cancer was indeed genetic. Mom tested positive for two gene mutations confirming her genetic predisposition to cancer. Because Mom was a carrier of the mutations, there was a 50% chance that my sister and I were also carriers. We were both tested; my big sis got the luck of the draw and tested negative (yaaaay!) while I tested positive for one of Mom’s mutations (booooo!).20161124_133441.jpg

I want it to be noted that I don’t hold any negative feelings toward my sister for stealing all the good non-cancer genes. Sure she also stole the ‘I look 15 years younger than I actually am’ genes and the ‘I can multitask like a bad mamma-jamma’ genes, but I’m taller, I don’t sunburn, and eating ice cream has never thrown me into an asthmatic attack so… I call it evens. Besides, we both got the ‘derpy’ genes.

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I’m sure you’re thinking, “Afton, all of the Mutants I know have really incredible super powers. Does your mutation give you super strength or the ability to over consume pizza and still fight crime?” Sadly, the answer is no. While my pizza consumption is on the higher end for someone my size I have not acquired any super powers. I guess you could consider me more of a ‘Rogue’, because let’s be honest, her mutation sucks too.

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What the BRCA gene mutation DOES give me is:

A 55-65% chance of developing breast cancer by age 70.

A 35-70% chance of developing ovarian cancer by age 70

*Men who carry the mutations are also at a higher risk for breast cancer and prostate cancer.

Guys, I KNOW!! I’m totally being a Debbie Downer,

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but I want you to know this stuff because:

A) If your family tree has a crazy amount of breast, ovarian and or prostate cancer, you might have a greater risk, but you are not alone! And there’s something you can do about it. Get tested! Take control of you future.

B) There’s no good screening method for ovarian cancer. By the time most women start experiencing warning signs, if ever, it’s too late in the game.

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C) The risk involved for those of us with the BRCA mutation is just too high to ignore. This is why most women with the mutation opt for preventative hysterectomy and double mastectomy. (If you’re thinking to yourself, “Wow. That seems pretty extreme.” You’re right. It is extreme. And I pray that someday this won’t be the norm, but for now these preventative surgeries are the best options the medical community can provide.)

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D) I will need your help! Meals, encouragement, support for Josh and the boys, maybe a hair wash.  And prayers, lots of prayers.

DD) If I look different (ahem) the next time you see me you’ll know why.

So, here I am, 4 days away from my 36th birthday. In 3 days I have an appointment at the Women’s Oncology Center in St. Louis to schedule my preventative surgeries and discuss my options. I’m not 100% sure what that will look like. I’m not afraid, a bit anxious, but also really ready to start on this journey. If these surgeries will provide me the opportunity to someday sit on the back porch with old man Josh Nordean while we watch our grandkids play in the yard then I’ll take it, all day everyday.

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Thanks for reading friends! I covet your love and support. And cheesecake. If you have any cheesecake, I covet that too.

 

Baby Cousins

Amber Afton Volner Lindsay Bohnert

 

When I was 7 years old my baby cousin Lindsay was born. This is a photo of me holding her with my big sis, Amber. She was so sweet and I loved her. A few years later she developed a bit of sass, charging a dollar for kisses and referring to everyone as ‘Little Missy’. But she was still adorable in her flouncy 90’s dresses with her beautiful big eyes. Fast forward 20 something years: she’s married to a handsome tall drink of water named Tim and they are soon expecting their first baby!

As luck would have it I already had the perfect quilt top finished in my WIP (work in progress) pile. 20170213_102605.jpgI found the cutest grey hearts fabric for the backing and I got to work quilting it.

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I did a double row of quilting and really like the way it turned out.

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Look at those hearts! (insert all the emoji heart eyes)

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I was short on time so instead of making binding, like I normally do, I just used the backing as the binding. It’s sort of unconventional, but turned out pretty darn cute.

I can’t wait to meet baby girl. She’ll probably have a little bit of sass and a whole lot of sweetness just like her momma.

Coast To Coast Central™

Home of the #CoastToCoastChallenge™ - © Lindsey Eryn Clark & Lauren Palomares. All Rights Reserved.

Coast To Coast Central™

Home of the #CoastToCoastChallenge™ - © Lindsey Eryn Clark & Lauren Palomares. All Rights Reserved.