Paige More knew she had a family history of breast cancer, but that didn’t keep her from being shocked when she did a test and found out that she had the BRCA1 gene mutation, putting her at a very high risk of getting breast cancer.
The overall lifetime risk of breast cancer for people with the BRCA1 gene mutation is a whopping 85%, and many get it at a young age.
“The reality didn’t set in until I sat down with my doctors a few months later,” said More. “All my options sounded terrible.”
One of the options was to participate in a high-surveillance program that would require her to visit her doctor every six months. But she felt like this choice meant she would just be waiting around to get cancer instead of preventing it from happening. And More wasn’t interested in taking chances like that.
But the other option—a preventative double mastectomy—was a hard one to accept as well.
“For months, whenever I took a shower, looked in the mirror, or tried on new clothes, I thought, I’m going to get breast cancer.”
She finally opted for the preventative double mastectomy at the age of 22. “I decided that I didn’t want to live my life filled with anxiety and the fear of waiting to get sick,” she said. “I would take control and kill the chance of getting cancer before cancer could try to kill me.”
At first, More was reluctant to share news of her upcoming surgery with the world, but her boyfriend’s encouragement convinced her to post something to Facebook about it. She was overwhelmed by the love and support she received afterward and decided to document the rest of her journey via Instagram.
“I’d gotten so much help from the comments and wanted to pass it along to others,” More said.
More says that “within a week of starting my new Instagram page, I had more than 1,000 followers. Women of all ages posted and asked for advice.” The account now has more than 15,000 followers.
Now that she’s had the surgery and gotten past much of the resulting feelings of self-doubt and depression, More feels empowered and describes her scars as being “even sexier than her breasts,” according to ELLE.
“The thing that has surprised me most is how sexy I feel. My decision to take action made me feel incredibly powerful and strong—and that’s so sexy to me. When I look at my scars, I think they’re pretty badass. I grabbed control of my life. I went from being a worrier to a warrior.”
Check out the video below to see the rest of More’s story.
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?