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THE CHOICE FOR SURVIVAL

Written By Jill Clark

September 13, 2011

The story of Danette Hafen

Before being tested, I knew having the BRCA 1 gene mutation, the gene responsible for hereditary breast cancer, was a strong possibility. I watched my grandmother and aunt both fight breast cancer and knew that I too, might carry the gene that gave me a considerable chance of developing breast cancer. I decided before receiving the results that if I were a carrier of the gene, I would take measures to greatly lower my risk by having a preventative mastectomy. I spent time researching the procedure and looking for reliable, experienced doctors who performed the surgery. I went through each scenario, poured over the pros and cons and knew, for me, the right thing to do.

I went to the doctor to finally hear the result of the test. I was being proactive and taking what control I could of my health. But that feeling of control dissolved as the doctor confirmed that I am a carrier of the gene. I instantly felt overcome with fear and anxiety. The "What Ifs" and the uncertainty of the situation began to take over my every thought. At night when the kids were in bed and I had my thoughts to myself, I crumbled.

In a moment of contemplation, The 2010 Young Women’s theme, Joshua 1:9, came to mind. “ Have I not commanded thee? Be strong and of good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee withersoever thou goest.”

I continued carrying the burden, praying for strength and acting with courage. But it wasn’t easy. Along with the worry over my cancer risk, I felt anxious about the mastectomy. I knew more than ever that I had made the right decision to go ahead with the procedure. But what would it be like after the surgery? Would I feel like I was less of a woman? Would I feel whole?

In November, I was listening to a talk during a Time Out For Women session. The speaker reminded the audience that it doesn’t matter what package we come in, we are all daughters of God. These truthful words brought peace to my heart and mind. Who we are begins with our spirit, not our body. Even if my physical body was imperfect, I did not have to feel incomplete. The following January, I had a successful surgery and I’m now grateful to share my experience with other women. When I look back I can see the Lord guided me every step of the way. I was continually surrounded by hope.

Today I am healthy and happy. Whatever the future might hold for my health, I know that with the help of my Heavenly Father, fear won’t stand a chance.




Jill Clark is married with five children, including a set of twins.  She spends most of her time trying to outsmart her two toddlers and finds great satisfaction in successfully removing pen marks from the wall. Jill was raised under the sun of the Hawaiian Islands and now makes a home under the southern sun of Louisiana.

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