Racing Against BRCA: Bonus Clip #2 - When I Found Out

When I Found Out-
I was tested for the BRCA gene when I was 22 after my Mom, Uncle, and Aunt tested positive. My mom suggested that I get tested and I thought, “what’s the big deal? I KNOW I don’t have it. I’ll just get it over with to show everyone I don’t have this gene mutation”. Like most 22-year-olds, I really thought I was invincible and nothing bad would happen to me. On the week of my birthday I got the call telling me I was BRCA 2+. The Nurse Practitioner said “Caroline, I need you to sit down” (I didn’t) and I responded with “what is it?” and she said “you’re BRCA 2+ [silence] you will need to come in for an appointment to meet with the Gynecologist and the genetic counselor to discuss the next steps”.  I walked into the kitchen and I think my jaw was on the floor and I told my mom I had the gene mutation. She said in her gut she thought I did, I guess mother does always know best. I can’t remember if I cried, I feel like I blacked out, because I don’t remember the rest of that day.

I wish I was more prepared for the results, so below I compiled a list of tips for you that I would have found helpful for when I found out:


1.     When you’re being tested for the gene, you can request to be called on the phone with the results instead of going into the office. A lot of people don’t know this. This can be helpful with digesting the information and will allow you to do your processing privately.
2.     Be prepared for both results. When I was tested, I was TOTALLY convinced I didn’t have it! It can be an identity crisis when we expect one result and get another. I have also met someone who was very convinced that she did have the gene, but then found out she didn’t. Her whole life she had just assumed she had it and was going to get cancer just like her mother. So, try to think and visualize when you get the call and the NP or GC tells you both results. This will help when you actually get the information.
3.     Establish a support system. Whether it be a friend, a family member, or whoever, someone you can call after you get the news and they agree to talk to you or help you in any way you need after you get the news.
4.     Write down your feelings. There will be so much going through your head, sometimes (most of the time) when you see your thoughts on paper, it helps you organize your feelings and digest them.
5.     Treat yo’ self. No matter how you’re feeling, decide in advance how you will treat yourself. My go-to “treat yo’self” is getting my nails done… visualize Elle Woods storming into the nail salon in Cambridge, Massachusetts after Warner shows up on campus with his new fiancé. That’s me 99% of the time walking in the nail salon.
6.     You’re still you. This changes nothing about who YOU are, don’t let either result define you as a person, but let it be a testament to your character how you face it.
7.     Remember, one day at a time…that’s all. Just one day at a time.

I hope these help you and if you have any questions or comments feel free to email or DM me!

All the love,

Caroline Plank