I Had a Mastectomy at 23

Lindsay Avner had a Mastectomy at the age of 23.
1 / 2

I Had a Mastectomy at 23

Giving up her breasts after testing positive for the BRCA1 gene mutation has given her a whole new outlook on life and her health

-Lindsay Avner, Bright Pink

Lindsay Avner

At the age of 23 I had a mastectomy. And it wasn’t because I found a lump in my breast. It was because I wanted to ensure that I would never find a lump in my breast. My grandmother and great grandmother died a week apart, both from breast cancer at the ages of 39 and 58, respectively. When I was 12, my mother was first diagnosed with breast cancer and 10 months later with ovarian cancer.

To say that these diseases have always been a part of my life is an understatement. While most middle-school-aged kids were riding bikes and playing with friends after school, I would rush home and drop my backpack and childhood at the door to help care for my mom, clean the house and take care of my 3-year-old brother.

In May 2005, I was faced with an opportunity that generations before me were not afforded. I underwent a genetic test that told me I tested positive for the BRCA1 gene mutation, placing me at up to an 87 percent lifetime risk of developing breast cancer and up to a 54 percent lifetime risk of developing ovarian cancer.

This was not the easiest news to be given when you are 22 and just starting your life. Originally, I decided to enroll in a high-risk screening program, but even with the best tools out there I felt as though I was just waiting to catch cancer instead of doing something to actually prevent it.

Just 15 months later at age 23, I made a very personal decision to remove my healthy breasts in order to reduce my risk for developing breast cancer from up to 87 percent to less than 1 percent. I was the youngest patient at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York to make such a decision.

It was not a decision I made lightly. At the time, I was single and wondered how I would bring up the topic of this decision on a first date or what would happen the first time my shirt came off with a new guy I started seeing. Would I feel like a woman? Would I ever feel “whole” again? I wish I could say that I felt strong and confident going into the surgery, but I was absolutely terrified.

follow BettyConfidential on... Pinterest

Read More About...
Related Articles...

0 thoughts on “I Had a Mastectomy at 23

  1. I’m glad you disclosed the fact that you had reconstructive surgery. I think it’s wonderful that surgeons do implants at the same time as the masectomy. My neighbor just had that done. Why did you get silicone and not saline?

    Also, I have a friend who’s mother died and sister died of breast cancer, and I think she had that genetic testing done but she was clear while her sister, who died, was not. What about children? Are they at risk even if someone doesn’t have the gene?

Leave a Reply

top of page jump to top