Tania Cheater - Blindsided By BRCA

Welcome

Although I was blindsided and these facts became a large part of my life, they have also allowed me to appreciate life, have empathy for others, strengthen my faith, and have the vulnerability to share it. This site is one way I can help others be more aware of what BRCA is, how to be proactive, help educate, and give back by listing some of the things that got me through some challenging times. No one fights alone, and my goal is to offer support while building a community.

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What is BRCA?

National Breast Cancer Assoc:

The name “BRCA” is an abbreviation for “BReast CAncer gene.” BRCA1 and BRCA2 are two different genes that have been found to impact a person’s chances of developing breast cancer.


Every human has both the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes. Despite what their names might suggest, BRCA genes do not cause breast cancer. In fact, these genes normally play a big role in preventing breast cancer. They help repair DNA breaks that can lead to cancer and the uncontrolled growth of tumors. Because of this, the BRCA genes are known as tumor suppressor genes.


However, in some people these tumor suppression genes do not work properly. When a gene becomes altered or broken, it doesn’t function correctly. This is called a gene mutation.

How I describe it:

Something that hits you like a ton of bricks, and it changed my life forever. BRCA 2 is a gene mutation that, when expressed, affects different organs. For men and women: It can show up as breast cancer, melanoma, pancreatic cancer, ovarian cancer, and prostate cancer.


I wish I had known about test and screening as I would have done life a little differently, knowing I carry the BRCA 2 gene. I strongly feel that knowledge is key! It can help make decisions and choices in life. It also can make us more aware of living a more balanced and healthy lifestyle.

Warrior Story: Q&A with Tania Cheater about being “blindsided by BRCA”

Parul Solmani recently interviewed me. My answers to her insightful and raw questions are linked here. I am sharing this as I feel it could benefit and inspire others.

Image of Tania used in an interview
Teresa Nora Trobbe photographer
My mnemonic for BRCA

Life throws lemons sometimes.

I prefer to focus on the good things in life as much as possible, so I created some words to give hope alongside the BRCA acronym.


I believe everything happens for a reason. I have met some amazing other survivors that are incredible. They helped guide me through the journey, and I am forever grateful.


As for the lemons … I would say the old cliché makes lemonade. I truly believe the benefits of keeping your PH balance and daily lemon water is so good for you.

My tips for you

21 tips to help during chemo

  1. Claritin for bone pain from immune shot
  2. Banana is good if you have loose stools
  3. Colace great if feel the opposite
  4. Swish around warm salt water and baking soda 5 x a day especially after eating to avoid sores in your mouth
  5. Get up and walk even if you don’t feel like it
  6. Drink lots of water to flush your system
  7. If driving anywhere be aware of nearest bathrooms (very important)
  8. A fan for hot flashes chemo brings on
  9. Hot water bottle or heating pad for stomach cramping from different chemo’s
  10. During chemo ice your hands and feet to slow down or help prevent nerve loss and numbness
  11. Don’t floss … brush your teeth but use clove, and cinnamon on guard tooth paste to help the gums heal (chemo effects)
  12. Use hand sanitizer
  13. Don’t hug much
  14. Don’t eat salads out
  15. Check temperature daily
  16. Read positive books, watch funny movies or shows, I watched a lot of HGTV.
  17. Essential oil peppermint is good for nauseous feeling under the nose… Can be used behind the neck for hot flashes.
  18. Eat when you feel the urge. (That can pass quickly.)
  19. The steroids can cause sleepless nights, hunger, and possible crankiness. (Have those you live with or family and friends understand the side effects, and try to meditate, take medication prescribed to sleep.)
  20. Drink healthy green shakes in the am to get the nutrients your body needs. (See my shake recipe below)
  21. Take pictures if you can so you can remember how far you have come later. You are a fighter and a warrior!! Also to remember those special people that were by your side!

Top 15 tips for family and friends helping with chemo patients

  1. Caretakers need support too
  2. Help take notes and listen when Doctors are talking
  3. Don’t be afraid to ask any questions
  4. Stay away from sick people
  5. Wear mask and gloves when needed
  6. Take time to go out and do something for yourself/relax
  7. If you make food for the patient, make sure you make yourself something. Green shake etc
  8. Meditate, listen to music, do yoga, go for a walk, do things that feed your soul
  9. Watch a funny movie and remember to laugh
  10. Join a support group
  11. Don’t over google everything
  12. Might be helpful to join Facebook groups that share info
  13. Take snacks and lots of bottled water day of chemo
  14. If you are driving to appointments, remember to have a checklist of things such as (spare change of clothing, towel, cleaning wipes, hair ties, hats, gloves, extra trash bags.)
  15. Being an advocate is hard work and very helpful. Remember to take care of yourself too!

Ice Cap (cold cap) tips

  1. Practice with your cap prior to chemo – think of it as a dry run.
  2. Get small pieces of dry ice (smart and final is good)
  3. Find some nice comfy warm socks.
  4. Buy a temperature gun to make sure it’s cold enough before putting on. Make sure you use heavy-duty gloves while handling the ice cap.
  5. Use Mole skin cut to surround and protect areas around the face, forehead, ears from freeze burning. Use a pad under the chin for comfort and protection.
  6. I suggest asking for a pain pill that will last a few hours during chemo as the first minute is most painful each 27 min.
  7. Label your coolers, so the coldest ones are rotated and used next.
  8. Get yourself a nice neck rest/pillow, as the ice cap can feel heavy over time.
  9. Don’t forget a heated blanket.

Health and nutrition

Once again, chat with your doctor. It’s not always about getting their input but making sure that anything you do does not interfere with their treatments. If you have a question about something that you want to consume and your doctors do not have the answer, ask them to research and get back to you within the week. This is a 100% reasonable request, and they have the resources to find the correct answers for you.


My number one item here is to be proactive and get tested for the BRCA gene. Read more below for more info on my Color experience.


Tania’s Green Shake

Whip up the following ingredients in a blender and enjoy!


Chia seeds, coconut almond milk, flax, frozen organic blueberries, garlic, ginger, green fuel nutrient powder, Kale, lime juice, pineapple, turmeric root, and yogurt

COLOR

Based in Burlingame, California, I used Color to get a second test before removing my ovaries. They were local, efficient, accurate, and extremely helpful.


They do many types of gene testing, and it was so simple. I ordered the kit, which they promptly mailed it to me. I provided an easy saliva sample and sent it back.


A few weeks later, I got a phone call. The results confirmed I was for sure BRCA 2 positive like my other test had shown. Their genetic counselor called me to discuss the results, and was amazing.


I had a wonderful personal experience with their team. Visit www.color.com to learn more and use promo TCCOLOR for $50 off a Color Test when purchased from their website.

Author Corner

In a recent article for Los Gatos Living, the author mentioned my mother’s book Miracles. I thought some of you might enjoy reading it. You can take a quick look over at Amazon. If you’re interested in getting a copy, send me a message in the form below, and we can get you a copy for $30.00.


Book cover for Margaret Ann Dahl's Miracles
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me - Philippians 4:13

Emotions corner

For caregivers:
You will definitely strengthen your compassion and patience.


For both Patient and caregivers:
Turn it over To God and try not to predict the outcome.

Fear can creep in so let it go and let prayers and faith take over.

Exercise can help clear the mind, stress releasing, and good to get the blood flowing.

Disclaimer

I am not a doctor.

I am sharing from my experience and self-education. I always suggest finding a good doctor that listens to you, puts your best interest as a priority, and you trust. All questions should go through your doctors . Changes to your lifestyle from food, to exercise, to medicine, to supplements, anything that affects your mind body or spirit should be shared with your doctors. They are there to help and you shouldn’t keep things from them.

This is my personal experience that I thought could help others and bring more awareness to what I was blindsided by.

My journey through photos

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