Amanda was always sure she would get breast cancer. After her mother died from the disease in her thirties, three-year-old Amanda was left to begin a waiting game that could have lasted a lifetime - until she decided to rewrite the rules to become a “pre-vivor” who quite literally outran cancer.
Rule #1: Timing is Everything
With a family history of breast cancer, Amanda thought it was only a matter of time before she got breast cancer. That is why, in 2015, with six-year-old Symon, two-year-old Dexter, and husband David by her side, Amanda decided to get tested for the BRCA mutation, which would put her at much higher risk for breast and ovarian cancer. When the results came back positive, there was no time for shock. She had readied herself for this her entire life. All Amanda could do now was focus on what came next.
Rule #2: Use Your Resources
The day Amanda got her results, she and her husband went for a long walk. Together, they decided to be as aggressive as possible in the hopes that cancer would never have the chance to take root.
After consulting her husband, one of the first phone calls Amanda made was to her friend, Andrea Wolf, the CEO of the Brem Foundation to Defeat Breast Cancer. Andrea and her mother, Dr. Rachel Brem, met with Amanda and her family to discuss her options and connect them with other breast cancer specialists. Ultimately, Amanda decided to undergo a prophylactic double mastectomy and have her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed as quickly as possible.
While Amanda was lucky enough to face her surgeries with a strong network of friends, family, and physicians, she knows that not everyone is so lucky. Financial, educational, familial, and cultural barriers are often the difference between a woman getting life-saving care or facing an uphill battle alone.
Rule #3: Map Your Own Path
For Amanda, undergoing genetic testing and surgery before she developed breast cancer was the best option for her and her family. But what is right for one woman is not always right for another - even if the diagnoses are identical. According to Amanda, “it’s all about what works for you. Your path is unique.” The best way to figure out the best route for you is to know your options, educate yourself, and understand what you can do to prevent or detect cancer.
Rule #4: Think Strong
Even during her BRCA journey, Amanda always prioritized her family. She worried constantly about the impact her situation could have on her young sons. She knew firsthand what it was like to watch a parent suffer. Ultimately, though, her boys were her inspiration to survive and recover as she struggled to keep her head above water during the longest year and a half of her life. At the end of the day, her family and marriage became stronger than ever, surviving and even thriving in the wake of those dark times. “You can survive anything,” she says.
Now, Amanda is showing strength in a whole new way: by completing the Princess Half Marathon through Disney World’s Magic Kingdom and Epcot Theme Park as part of the runDisney program. This race has particular significance to her, as it will not only take place one week after the second anniversary of her double mastectomy and reconstructive surgery, but it will also fulfill her dream of running a race through Disney World.
Amanda chose this race because she still believes in magic. Her personal connection to Disney World began when she was just a little girl and then strengthened when she explored the parks as an adult. Her love of Disney grew even stronger when she experienced the parks through the eyes of her young children in 2014. While on that trip, a year before her BRCA journey, Amanda told her family that she would love to run a race through Disney parks one day. However, she was unsure how or when she could fulfill this dream. Now that she is healthy and has a cause worth fighting for, her time has come.
Amanda is running for breast cancer instead of from it. To impact other women’s experience with the disease, Amanda is raising money for the Brem Foundation to Defeat Breast Cancer. These funds will provide breast-health education, physician training, and diagnostic screening to women from all socioeconomic backgrounds. She hopes to inspire other women to join the Brem Foundation’s efforts and work towards a world where no mother, sister, wife, or daughter succumbs to breast cancer.
In June, Amanda’s oldest son turned eight. But in the midst of enjoying his joyful party, cake, and candles, she had a sobering thought, one that filled her with melancholy: already, her son has had five more years with his mother than Amanda did with hers. Watching her two boys grow up, with their mother by their side, Amanda is reminded everyday of why she chose her path - and why she would do it all over again for them.
To learn more about Amanda's run and support her fundraising efforts, please click here.