Just Keep Sluggin! Brandi’s Sarcoma Update.

A few years ago, Brandi shared her experience of sarcoma with us. In 2009, she was only 29, 5 months pregnant with her daughter when she noticed a lump on her thigh. Sarcoma. Only about 1% of all cancers are sarcomas. Sarcomas can be found in any connective tissue, bone, blood vessels, fat, muscles or nerves. Many sarcomas(like Brandi’s) present as a painless lump but as they grow they can push on nerves and cause pain. LFS increases the risk of growing a sarcoma and it’s important to pay attention to any lumps or bumps that grow or change and have them looked at by a physician. In Brandi’s case, having a sarcoma and breast cancer at an early age led to the recommendation that she be tested for LFS. She was gracious enough to sit down with us and tell us a little bit about Sluggin’ it out with Sarcoma. I chatted with her a couple days ago to see how she has been doing and if she’d share a little about what’s new. In true LFS fashion she responded quickly with,

Yes definitely! That would be awesome. Cancer wise I had DCIS stage 0 ended up having a double mastectomy. Found pre-cancerous tumors in my uterus and had a hysterectomy but left my ovaries to keep me company.
Hopefully no more after that LOL
Otherwise everyday is a good day. ❤
Here’s to many more good days! If you’d like to read more about how Brandi found her sarcoma and about LFS, click the link below!

Beauty in an Unlikely Place- Fannie Remembers Her Mother’s Breast Cancer Journey

Fannie learned some very powerful lessons from her mother through her breast cancer battles. She learned about self awareness, how to advocate and how she chooses to live despite living with LFS.  Thank you Fannie for sharing your memories of your mother and her strength with us.

 

My mom never knew she had Li-Fraumeni Syndrome. I was the first one to get genetic testing done.

fannie-lemay-mom-fish-copy

Fannie’s mom. One of her favorite pictures of how she lived.

My mom died of breast cancer when I was 21 years old; she was 45. She fought a great 10 year battle. Four times she had breast cancer. She just thought she was the unluckiest person in the world. But then again her family was almost all gone, killed by different cancers. All pretty young too.

 

AWARENESS:  Know Your Body

My mom always said it was important to know your body. She touched herself a lot(not in a weird way) and encouraged us to do the same. So when she felt a little lump in her left breast, she knew it hadn’t been there for a long time. She got worried and off to the doctor she went. I’m not sure how diagnosis worked back then, I think now doctors are way more aware that breast cancer can hit you pretty much at any age. Her doctor simply told her not to worry about it, that it was probably calcifications and to come and see him in six months.

ADVOCACY: Knowing What is Right for You

That doctor had no idea what he was getting himself into. My mom wanted a biopsy and she wanted it ASAP. The poor doctor started to argue with her that it was really overkill and that she should wait. My mom told him in no uncertain terms that she would handcuff herself to his desk and call the media if he didn’t arrange the biopsy right then and there. The doctor finally agreed and scheduled the biopsy with the proper department.  That’s how my mom discovered for the first time she had breast cancer.

fannie-lemay-mom-scarf-copy

Sadly, I remember very little about my mom’s journey through her illness. I was young. I didn’t grasp what cancer could do. After all, breast cancer was an “easy” cancer, right? That’s what they told us anyway. I was also out of the house for her last two breast cancers, the harder ones. I remember one thing about my mom’s fight with cancer: her self- advocacy.

 

LIVING: Knowing How You Choose to Live

Did those six months change anything? We’ll never know. I like to think that her tenacity to get the biopsy allowed her to see her 5 year old daughter grow to the age of 15. Mostly, I think it allowed her to start her Li-Fraumeni journey with confidence and a sense of power over what was happening to her. Cancer can be so scary, being confident and self aware can greatly help one heal. My mom cried very little during her fight against cancer. I like to think that it was because she felt strong and at peace with what was happening to her.

After 10 years of off and on battle, my mom decided she was done with all of it: the chemo, the doctors, and the hurting. She finished her journey like she had started it-in control. She made the transition beautiful for us. She found an amazing hospice house where all the nurses and doctors could be qualified as angels. And she went, pretty peacefully. She left me, the only heir of her mutation with the strength to fight for what I want and the power to not let cancer rule my life. She was happy, even in turmoil. I wish to be happy too.