"Leading by Example" - a Client's Story

In July 2019, I got the phone call that I tested positive for the BRCA1 gene mutation like my mom.

I lost my aunt in 2011, at the age of 53, to ovarian cancer. Ovarian cancer is known as the silent killer because the symptoms are nothing out of the ordinary for a woman: bloating, cramping, nausea, indigestion, etc. It was a treacherous seven-year battle that I watched consume my aunt. Throughout her fight, our family learned a lot. We learned how incredibly strong she was and saw the determination and positive attitude she had to go along with that strength. We also learned about the BRCA gene mutation. About one in 400 people carry a mutated BRCA gene. When this occurs, the gene may no longer be effective at repairing broken DNA and helping to prevent cancer. People with this are at a MUCH higher risk to develop cancer (breast, ovarian, prostrate) and are also more likely to develop cancer at a younger age. This can be passed down to offspring.

I had been considering being tested for the mutation for several years since losing my aunt and also finding out my mom had tested positive for the BRCA1 gene mutation. Once I found out I was pregnant, I knew I wanted to be tested as soon as our baby was born. So, fast forward a few months and in June 2019, I had bloodwork done to test for the BRCA gene mutation. A few weeks later, in July 2019, I got the phone call that I tested positive for the BRCA1 gene mutation like my mom.

After many trips to Rochester for appointments, consults and tests, my care team and I decided on a plan of action. I would have a laparoscopic oophorectomy (fallopian tube removal) in December 2019, the day before my 32nd birthday. That meant no more children. This was a huge decision to make at my age, especially given the fact I only had one child. At every appointment I had, I told my doctors that I would do whatever it took to not hear the words ‘you have cancer.’ The surgery would greatly decrease my risk of getting ovarian cancer, so I knew it was what I had to do.

In mid 2020, I will have a prophylactic double mastectomy with reconstruction to reduce my risk of breast cancer. Once I am closer to 40, I will have my ovaries removed, reducing my risk of ovarian cancer even more. Due to my age and many other factors, it is best to push this portion of my care plan off a few years. The oophorectomy surgery was a same day surgery but was still surgery none the less. I knew I would have some scarring but wasn’t exactly sure how my body would look afterwards.

I wanted to have a keepsake of what I looked like before my body changed.

I also wanted to have something for myself to look back on to show my strength throughout this journey. I thought it would be a great way to make a positive out of something that could have been seen as a very negative situation. A gift for both me and my husband that we could treasure forever. Little did I know, it would also be a gift to myself boosting my confidence and self-pride more than I ever thought possible.

The entire team at Sugar & Spice was so helpful and were able to squeeze me in for my photo shoot exactly one week before my surgery. From the moment I walked in the door, I felt at home. I was so comfortable and felt like I had known the team for years. Makeup with Lyndsey and the photo shoot with Katya and Leslie were absolutely amazing and one of the best experiences of my life.

I felt strong, powerful, sexy, and most of all - confident.

Coincidentally, these are all things I hope to teach my daughter as she grows. Since my experience at Sugar & Spice, I believe that I am prepared more than ever to lead by example for her.

I am so incredibly grateful for my experience. It is something I would recommend to anyone, no matter where they are at in life. I truly believe they will come out of it learning something new about themselves and feeling truly beautiful inside and out. I am very much looking forward to doing another boudoir photo session once I am done with all of my surgeries.

A note to the writer:

Ok...WOW! We're more determined than EVER to lead our daughters by example - to be strong, powerful and confident! We are awed by your courage in making the incredibly difficult decisions you've had to make! We are happy that we had a part in that "gift" for you & your husband to treasure.

xoxo, the Sugar & Spice Girls


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Sugar & Spice Photography is a Minnesota based, women-owned small business that specializes in boudoir and pinup photography.