There’s a long history of breast cancer in Emily Huebsch’s family, thanks to the BRCA 1 gene mutation. Emily’s mother, grandmother, and aunt all died early of the disease in their 30s and 40s. And Emily tested positive for the gene mutation too, giving her a nearly 90 percent chance of developing breast or ovarian cancer at some point in her life.
“What they didn’t know then, I know now because I’ve been tested,” says Emily.
At just 33, she’s glad she had more information to work with than earlier generations did to help her make a good decision for her health and future.
With a four-year-old son, Hayes, at home, Emily knew what she had to do to make sure she’d be around to watch him grow up; she opted to have a preventative double mastectomy. The surgery would take both her breasts but give her a much better chance at living a long full cancer-free life.
“Given the mutation and my family history, it was really an easy decision,” she says. She had the surgery done in August of 2018.
In the hopes of spreading awareness of breast cancer risk and encouraging other women to take charge of their breast health, Emily has been posting photographs to Instagram throughout her journey, demonstrating exactly what the process has been like for her and her family, both pre- and post-surgery. In some, she wears hospital gowns or mastectomy bras, while in others, she’s topless, allowing others to see the incisions, bruises, and drains.
“I don’t think I’ve ever even shown a picture of my belly on Instagram,” she says. “I show people exactly what it means to have drains coming out of surgery and two tubes sticking out the sides of you.”
Now six weeks out from surgery, Emily is proud to call herself a “previvor,” a preventative survivor of breast cancer. Her risk of developing breast or ovarian surgery is now just two percent, a risk level she can live with much more peacefully.
Learn more about this brave woman’s cancer prevention story in the video below.
Recovery is going remarkably well so far. Emily’s doctors have even cleared her to run in the Des Moines marathon, just 7 weeks after her mastectomy surgery.
Congratulations, Emily, on your quick recovery and drastically reduced cancer risk! May you live a long and full life!
Elizabeth Nelson is a wordsmith, an alumna of Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, a four-leaf-clover finder, and a grammar connoisseur. She has lived in west Michigan since age four but loves to travel to new (and old) places. In her free time, she. . . wait, what’s free time?