The Beauty of a Bold Decision
- Stephanie Germino, 29, recalls the day that her mom sat her down at age 15 and told her she was BRCA1 positive, meaning that she had a genetic mutation which put her at a higher risk for breast cancer.
- There are several different genetic tests available to find out if you have the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation. Talk to your doctor today and find out what your potential risk is. The more knowledge you have about your genetics, the more prepared you can be to combat one of these types of cancers.
- Whether you’re a “previvor” like Stephanie, with a higher risk of breast cancer, or battling cancer, just know that should you decide not to reconstruct your breasts after a mastectomy, it’s perfectly okay. More and more women are taking pride in their decision to redefine beauty.
“I was very emotional but didn’t take it as a death sentence,” Stephanie recalled to the Sun, remaining level-headed about the news. “I was already aware there was a history of breast cancer in my family as my maternal grandmother suffered with it twice.”Read More
With the support of her fiancée Diana and the rest of her family, she followed through with her empowering decision at the age of 27.
“For me personally, I never really loved my boobs, and I never saw them as a sign of femininity, so when I was diagnosed it wasn’t really a difficult decision to have the double mastectomy,” she said.
She urged other women not to feel pressured to get implants after having their boobs removed.
“Just because society pushes this idea that boobs represent femininity isn’t true, you don’t have to get implants you can go flat and that doesn’t make you any less of a woman.”
Stephanie said that even her surgeon tried to “sway” her towards getting implants.
“It does take a while to adjust to something as big as this but honestly I’m the most confident I’ve ever been now I’m flat – I feel like an absolute badass,” she said. “It makes me unique, and I love it.”
Stephanie is hoping her bold decision and story will inspire more women to get checked for the breast cancer gene mutation and other genetic testing. And most importantly, showing it’s okay to go “boobless” as she likes to say.
Whether you’re a “previvor” like Stephanie, with a higher risk of breast cancer, or battling cancer, just know that should you decide not to reconstruct your breasts after a mastectomy, it’s perfectly okay. More and more women are taking pride in their decision to redefine beauty. After all, women are more than their boobs!
“A lot of us women are sticking together and helping each other through this journey of being this new look,” says artist and survivor, Marianne Cuozzo to SurvivorNet. “We’re trying to make it so that it’s not this stigma.”
Another reason women choose to “go flat” after having their breasts removed is simply to be done with surgeries. Others may want to simply stick it to conventional beauty standards. No matter what the reason, there’s many people on both sides of the equation. It’s your body, you can do what you want with it!
Marianne wanted to share her story to help others. But she had no idea how many women she would touch.
“I’ve helped a lot of women that I had no idea that I was helping,” she said. “I do a lot of photo shoots showing my scars, and I didn’t realize the reaction. And then all of a sudden, I’m sharing this with other people and they’re seeing this and encouraging them to take another step of maybe don’t get reconstruction.”
“Just remove your breasts,” she says, “go flat, feel good about yourself.”
What is a BRCA Mutation?
What is a BRCA mutation? BRCA (a breast cancer gene mutation) is actually two genes (BRCA1 and BRCA2), each proteins that work as tumor suppressors. They help repair damaged DNA, and are important for ensuring the stability of each cell’s genetic material.
When either of these genes is altered, that mutation can mean that its protein product does not function properly, or that damaged DNA may not be repaired correctly.
These inherited mutations in BRCA1 and BRCA2 can increase the risk of female breast and ovarian cancers, and have also been associated with increased risks for several other cancers.
Dr. Rebecca Arend, Associate Scientist at the University of Alabama, Birmingham, explained the mutation in terms of its ability to repair damaged DNA.
“A BRCA mutation is a defect in your ability to repair a double-strand break in your DNA,” Dr. Arend told SurvivorNet. “The BRCA mutation—which is passed on from a father or a mother—can cause a variety of cancers, including fallopian tube and peritoneal cancer, which are ovarian cancers.”
There are several different genetic tests available to find out if you have the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation. Talk to your doctor today and find out what your potential risk is. The more knowledge you have about your genetics, the more prepared you can be to combat one of these types of cancers.
Contributing by SurvivorNet staff.