Previvors take time to process everything that happens to them.   546 days ago I sat in my genetic counselor’s office hearing what I had already known to be true.   That I carried the genetic mutation that predisposed me to some nasty, yet preventable, cancers.

The clock was ticking, at 53 I was a lot older than most that decided to do all the preventative surgeries.   My own mother had her first breast cancer at 30 and second occurrence at 50.  The good news for me, both my grandmother and great grandmother were in their 70’s.

I went into full on fight mode.  I didn’t have time to wallow.    People called me brave.   I felt anything but brave, yet that was what I was.  I felt the fear and pushed forward.   If I were to do this I had to do it full on and fast.   And I did just that, I think I cried twice, the day I had that appointment with the genetic counselor and just before I went in to surgery for my double mastectomy.  Emotionally I compartmentalized it all.   I was on a mission.

Previvors – Finding a New Normal

I should be over the moon happy, truth is I am just sad and angry.   I am grateful and would do it all over again; just a little differently knowing what I know now.   I went in thinking that I would just do it all and everything would be fine.   In many ways it is.   In other ways I was not prepared for the emotional roller coaster.  Previvors have survivor guilt, and we wonder what will be the next thing.

Now about three weeks since my revision surgery (fifth surgery in a little over 18 months) I am beginning to feel again.   Those emotions are right on the surface.   I am dealing with the anger part of the program.   I am coming up on the anniversary of my double mastectomy and it is weighing heavily on me.   As I write this the tears are rolling down my face.   Mostly gratitude because I fought cancer on my terms – before it showed up.   I am struggling with a lot of things that are not perfect and I have had to change my expectations.   Perfect is so far away.   I am learning to accept my body where it is.   I have more that needs to be done.

Find your Support System

There are some amazing support groups out there, yet I am finding it very difficult to connect to so many of these women who are 20 years my junior.   Our problems are different, recovery is different.   Lately I have been contemplating starting a new group.   I can’t be the only person out there struggling.   Perhaps this is where my Mediumship is taking me.    To be that person I desperately needed.  For those previvors over 50.   That my story becomes someone else’s survival guide.

If you are feeling the same, and are interested in joining the conversation, I am inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting on September 1, 2020 at 8pm EST, just reach out and I will set you up with the login information.


Rev. Colleen Irwin
Reverend Colleen Irwin is a Spiritual being having a human experience as a Blogger, Wife, Mother, Mentor, Healer and Public Speaker living in Rochester New York. Colleen, a Natural Born Medium, teaches, lectures and serves Spirit when called upon. She remembers speaking with Spirit as a child and learning how to share this knowledge with others has been an adventure that she captured in her book “Discovering Your Stream”. Colleen has been mentored by Reverend Jack Rudy, and ordained as a Priest in the Order of Melchizedek by the Reverend Dan Chesboro through the Sanctuary of the Beloved. When she is not doing her Spiritual work she is a volunteer docent sharing Susan B. Anthony's history to visitors of the Susan B. Anthony House in Rochester. Her trust in Spirit gave her a new title – PREVIVOR. She now uses her platform to educate others about the BRCA genetic mutation and how one can take control of their health and well-being.
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