Hi my name is Loren Wright and I’m a “Previvor”. What is a Previvor? A previvor is a person who has not had cancer but has a strong genetic probability of getting cancer and has done preventative surgeries to reduce the risk. This is my story…
It was 1996 when my Mum called to tell me she had Ovarian Cancer. My Mum was a very young 64 year old fit woman who never had any health issues. Ovarian cancer? We were shocked. But in January 1997, my wonderful mother passed away. Over the years since my Mum died, we were never told to do anything different with regards to our health screenings and we figured this was a freak thing that happened.
Fast forward to June 2007. I get a call from my sister who is two years older than me and fifty at the time. She said she had a weird lump in her side and what did I think. I told her to get it checked out and that I was sure it was nothing. She did and was diagnosed with stage three ovarian cancer. Not again! She had surgery right away and started chemo. Her Oncologist mentioned that there is a specific gene called the BRCA 1 & 2 genes and if present, a person has an increased risk of getting both ovarian and breast cancers in their lifetime. She urged her to get tested. She had the test and discovered that she is BRCA 2+ and that most likely out Mum was as well.
Since my sisters diagnosis I stepped up my surveillance and made an appointment with my gynaecologist. I went every three months for a transvaginal ultrasound. However she said that by the time she ‘saw something’ that it most likely would be stage three already. Not very comforting. I also scheduled a mammogram which I had been lax on over the years. I just kept thinking is this the visit she spots something? How can I live like this?
It was then that my OB/GYN introduced me to a genetic counsellor who went over all the risks and informed me what a positive result with my blood test would mean and what my options would then be. I learned a lot about hereditary breast and ovarian cancer syndrome. I got my blood test back and I am also BRCA2+.
Presented with this information, I knew that I wanted to have the preventative surgeries. The surgeries consisted of a BSO (Bilateral Salpino-Oophorectomy) and a bilateral mastectomy including removing the nipples. Women deciding to have the surgeries have been known to reduce their risks by up to 90%. Knowing this was my deciding factor. I was at complete peace with my decision and was anxious to get it done. So in June 2008, at 48 years old I had the laparoscopic BSO and in July 2008 the bilateral mastectomy with reconstruction. The BSO threw me into surgical menopause. I am now on a low dose of Estrogen to help with this. The mastectomy was not so bad. I had expanders placed under my pec muscle and they were filled on a weekly base to the desired amount. In Oct I had my exchange surgery, out with the expanders and in with the saline implants.
I am now a year out and feel great! I am so happy with my decisions and would not change a thing. My sister is now at stage four, but doing well. Her doctor said she saved my life by having genetic testing.
Sadly with Loren's permission and a heavy heart we are updating her story for her. Despite Loren's prophylactic surgeries to reduce her risk, she was diagnosed in 2011 with Stage 4 Primary Peritoneal Cancer. Despite treatment, Loren's cancer returned 3 times, she was undergoing round 5/6 of the recent lot of chemo hoping to go into remission when she received the news that the chemo was no longer working. Sadly Loren passed away surrounded by her 14 year old son and wonderful husband in February 2014.
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