Meet Jana. She is a wife. She is a busy mother of two gorgeous daughters. She is a devoted daughter, granddaughter, sister and friend. She is a Dietician who specializes in helping those with gastroenterological issues, with an emphasis on Celiac Disease.
She’s a Montrealer and above all, she is a woman.
Jana’s mom is a breast cancer survivor, having gone through 8 rounds of chemo and 5 weeks of radiation during the time that Jana was pregnant with her first daughter. During that same period, Jana’s maternal grandmother was also diagnosed with breast cancer for a second time.
Given the family history, Jana’s mom was tested at the Jewish General Hospital to see if she carried any of the genetic mutations known to cause breast cancer. She tested positive for the BRCA2 mutation. As a result, Jana and her grandmother were tested.
They both tested positive.
So what did this mean? It meant that Jana, then Mom to one beautiful baby girl, had a 60-80% likelihood of developing breast cancer as well as up to a 40% likelihood of developing ovarian cancer. A scary proposition for any woman, especially one who still wanted another child.
Jana was monitored very carefully for 5 years with mammograms, MRI’s and both breast & pelvic ultrasounds.
Once Jana’s second daughter was born, she knew she had to make a decision. Would she continue with all of this or would she “bite the bullet” and opt for prophylactic bilateral mastectomies and an oopherectomy?
Although not an easy decision to make, Jana, with the full support of her husband, decided to have the mastectomies done. An then, in July of 2010, a new nodule was discovered, and for 5 weeks Jana consulted with various doctors. When the radiologist who read her results looked Jana in the eye and said that if she were in Jana’s shoes she’d have the surgery right away, Jana decided she would no longer wait.
As she puts it “I always said that if EVER I were to get breast cancer I would have mastectomies done so the way I see it, I’d rather do this now while I am young and reasonably healthy and bypass the chemo, radiation and all of their unpleasant side effects.”
Immediately prior to having her mastectomies done, Jana decided to get photographed, so that she could remember her body “as it was”. With the help and pampering of the talented Christina Esteban, she had a photo session where she told me she was “made to feel like a princess”.
In November 2010, the mastectomies were done and over the next 9 months, Jana went through the process of reconstruction which was at times painful. Gratefully, it turned out that the nodule was benign and with the mastectomies done, Jana’s risk of breast cancer has been reduced by 90-95%.
This upcoming year, Jana will complete her cancer prevention surgeries by having all of her reproductive organs removed.
As we gasp at the thought, here’s what Jana has to say about it: “I am grateful for having been given this crystal ball and although I am still nervous about what lies ahead, I am doing this for my daughters, husband and my dear family and friends who I am sure would like me around as long as possible”
Perspective. We can all learn from Jana. From her courage, her gratitude and her positive attitude.
And yes Jana, we would all like to have you around for as long as possible.
On Monday, May 14th at 6:00 PM, Jana, together with her mom, Denise, will be honoured by the Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer Foundation at Wearing our Jeans, Sharing our Genes.
The event takes place at Cinemas Guzzo’s Mega-Plex Spheretech in Ville St-Laurent and is an exclusive night out at the movies with great food and drinks and makes for the PERFECT night out.
Jana is grateful to HBOC and their research as she credits them for the fact that she will hopefully not have to suffer from breast or ovarian cancers as so many women have.
Mark the date on your calendars. It’s Girls’ Night Out. Bring your mom, your sister, your friends-Bring ’em all! Let’s honour Jana & her mom for their courage. Let’s support HBOC for the work they do that ultimately benefits each and every one of us.
You can click here for further information.
Feel free to leave comments for Jana. She’ll be reading…
Hoping to see you on May 14th!