A Breast Reconstruction Timeline | I'm Taking Charge

A Breast Reconstruction Timeline

A Breast Reconstruction Timeline

Many times readers want a broad overview of diagnosis to breast surgery recovery. What does this look like in someone else? While we can’t generalize, Tina Ruark-Baker has chosen to share with us her breast reconstruction timeline.

Tina is a previvor who chose a prophylactic double mastectomy after testing positive for the CHEK2 BRCA mutation. For Tina, this felt like choosing life over death.  Facing a family history of breast cancer and her own high risk, she decided the preventative mastectomy was right for her.

Tina’s story speaks to a lot of what we stand for at ITC: our right to informed decision-making, ownership over our own journey, and the life-changing power of community and support along the way. The snapshots of her timeline leading up to and through her mastectomy and breast reconstruction recovery remind us that this truly is a journey. It touches each part of our lives. Many thanks to Tina for sharing her experience with such openness, honesty, and humor!

Choosing Life -- July 2016
On July 7, 2016, I went for genetic testing at Stony Brook University Hospital via Myriad MyRisk genetic testing. It was a simple - quick blood test. I have breast cancer on both sides of my family. I’ve also had 3 cases of melanoma in the past year, and I was experiencing ever-changing breast cysts. This alerted my OBGYN, who suggested the testing. On July 29, 2016, I met with the genetic specialist, who said that I am 100% positive of having the CHEK2. CHEK2 is a mutation of the BRCA gene. This meant I was at a very high risk of obtaining breast cancer, melanoma, and colon cancer. The risk for breast cancer was as high as a 48% chance. I was in shock. I felt like I was handed a death sentence. How do you even absorb this information? I began to read everything possible. I learned as much as I could about genetic testing and options. In addition to having the CHEK2 gene, my breasts were full of painful cysts. In the last 5 years, I’d had over 30 biopsies, trying to confirm that there was no cancer. The decision to have a prophylactic double mastectomy was an emotional one. I had to absorb a lot of information. It all had to sink in. But at 45 years old, with a breast cancer risk rate of almost 45%, I chose life.
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To hear about Tina’s journey in more detail, check out our podcast interview with her!


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