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Jen Deinlein: Having difficult conversations can help other moms


Jen Deinlein.

You’re probably very aware that October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. As a sister of Zeta Tau Alpha fraternity, with breast cancer awareness and education as our national philanthropy, I’ve been proud to also help honor survivors.

But it’s in the past year that I’ve become aware of someone else we should celebrate: the “previvors” – women who test positive for the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genetic mutations and make the difficult decision to have preventative mastectomies and other surgeries to prevent breast or ovarian cancer before they happen.

My friend and fellow Franklin Countian, Alyssa, knew for several years it was highly likely she had the BRCA1 mutation. There was a family history of breast cancer, and both her grandmother and mother tested positive for BRCA1. Although Alyssa talked to her doctor about it at the time, she said she wasn’t ready to find out whether she had the gene mutation herself.

She decided to get tested just a few months after her first son was born – he was the “push to finally know.”

“I was 24. And even though I had pretty much assumed I would have it, I knew I needed to know for sure,” Alyssa said. “My doctor always said my thirties would be the risky part, and so after my third and final son was born in 2017, I had my tubes removed to help lower my risk of ovarian cancer, which is in the same BRCA family.”

When Alyssa turned 30 a little over a year ago, she decided to take the next step and scheduled a preventative mastectomy for August 2019.

“I guess in a way, my kids were my saving grace,” she said.

One of the things I admire so much about Alyssa is how open she has been about the entire process. She has shared her progress through surgery and recovery, and the emotional ups and downs along with it, with all of us on Instagram. This is one of those topics that isn’t easy to talk about, let alone share it with so many people. I asked her why she wanted to be so open about it.

“I decided to share on social media to raise awareness,” she said. “It can be a scary, lonely world, and especially for people battling certain things.

“It’s nice to know you’re not in this alone!”

Isn’t that the truth? Mom life isn’t easy, and moms are faced with criticism daily for what they share on social media – Chrissy Teigen is a very recent example, having faced a ton of backlash for sharing her story of pregnancy loss. I’ve experienced miscarriage myself, and was far less open about it at the time, but one of the things that helped me through it was the support of other mothers who had walked that journey as well.

And that’s what our health is, a journey. I’m really grateful to Alyssa for sharing hers, the ups and downs, the brutal honesty of her struggles and the hope in her recovery. I wanted to share hers here because I think it’s an aspect of our health of which we’re not always aware, and it’s a choice that takes a lot of consideration.

For more of Alyssa’s story, you can find her on Instagram.

To read more from Jennifer Deinlein and our other Mommy Bloggers, click here.

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Tue 01

Talent In The Time Of Covid

November 19 @ 7:00 pm - December 7 @ 11:30 pm
Tue 01

The Giving Trees

November 27 @ 9:00 am - December 31 @ 6:00 pm
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Ziplines and Christmas Lights

November 27, 2020 @ 4:30 pm - January 10, 2021 @ 8:30 pm
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Scootin’ with Santa Scooter Tour

November 28 @ 11:00 am - December 20 @ 5:00 pm
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Greater Harrisburg Birth Circle

December 1 @ 6:30 pm - 8:30 pm