ovarian cancer

What IS BRCA and how do I know if I should get tested for it?

Earlier this year, I found out that I am BRCA 1 +.

If you haven't been following my journey (blog/podcast) then you are probably like DA FUCK is BRCA? Or at least, that's how I was when I first heard of it.

In the past month, I've had so many of you reach out. I've heard stories of those of you who are BRCA + too, those of you who are battling breast cancer or are survivors, and a hell of a lot of messages from those of you who didn't even know it was possible to get genetically tested for something like this.

So I figured I'd put together some facts & figures for you guys based on my own personal research and what my doctors have shared with me. So please do your due diligence on your own and speak to your doctors to discuss if this is the right path for YOU.




BRCA 1 and BRCA 2 are human genes that produce tumor suppressor proteins. When either of these genes is mutated, cells in the body are more likely to develop additional genetic alterations that can lead to cancer.

Inheriting the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene increases the risk of female breast and ovarian cancers (although they have also been associated with several additional types of cancer). People who have inherited mutations in BRCA1 and BRCA2 tend to develop breast and ovarian cancers at younger ages than people who do not have these mutations.


A BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation can be inherited from someone's mother or father. Each child of a parent who carries a mutation in one of these genes has a 50% chance (or 1 chance in 2) of inheriting the mutation. 

When I was in college, my dad got tested and found out that he had the BRCA 1 gene. Most women my age that I've spoken to who know about the gene were urged to get tested after their moms or close female relatives were diagnosed with breast or ovarian cancer. I've only met one other woman (shoutout to my gal Ashley who just bravely went through a preventative double mastectomy) who has a similar story to mine. So if you have any history of breast or ovarian cancer on either side of your family, you may want to consider getting tested.


This varies depending on whether you have BRCA 1 or 2.

For BRCA 1:

  • 60-80% risk of developing breast cancer over lifetime compared to the 12% general population risk.
  • 34-44% risk of developing ovarian cancer over lifetime compared to the 1-2% general population risk.
  • 2-3 % risk of developing pancreatic cancer over lifetime compared to the 0.9% general population risk.
  • Increased risk in male breast and prostate cancer

For BRCA 2:

  • 50-70% risk of developing breast cancer over lifetime compared to the 12% general population risk.
  • 12-20% risk of developing ovarian cancer over lifetime compared to the 1-2% general population risk.
  • 20-30% risk of developing prostate cancer over lifetime compared to the 16% general population 
  • 7% risk of developing male breast cancer over lifetime compared to the 1.10% general population 
  • 3-5 % risk of developing pancreatic cancer over lifetime compared to the 0.9% general population risk.
  • 3-5 % risk of developing melanoma over lifetime compared to the 1-2% general population risk.

*stats pulled from the National Society of Genetic Counselors


  • You have a relative with a BRCA 1 or BRCA 2 mutation
  • Family history of breast cancer diagnosis at an early age (aka before 50 years of age)
  • Family history of ovarian cancer
  • Multiple generations with breast and/or ovarian cancer
  • Family member has had multiple primary cancers 
  • Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry (this one took me by surprise! I have Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry on both sides of my family)


The Bright Pink Foundation -- A FANTASTIC resource to help you assess your risk and find a local group in your area for support. They also have a beautiful program called the Pink Pal where you get paired up with someone to help you navigate the process once you've found out you are BRCA + 

The Breasties -- a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting young women affected by breast and ovarian cancer through community and friendship. They host events, meetups and retreats and I've had the pleasure of getting to know Paige, the founder, and could not be more on board with what she's doing and the community she's building. #breastie love! 

Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered (FORCE) -- education resource for more information and studies. Great resource!


So there you have it! 

Remember just because you KNOW this information doesn't mean you have to get tested. I waited 5 years and while in some ways I wish I had known sooner, I'm also grateful I waited because even a couple of years ago, I wasn't mentally ready to handle everything.

And if you ever need support, love or encouragement along your journey, know that I am always just a message away and I would LOVE to connect with you!


Xo Amanda 

Facing Fear Head On: A 20 somethings journey of being BRCA positive


For so much of my life, I let fear steer the wheel. 


I quit ballet after my first class because 3 girls made fun of me and I was scared nobody would be my friend.

I didn't ask the boy out because I was terrified he'd reject me and not think I was pretty enough.

I dieted and dieted in fear that I wouldn't be cast in shows because I wouldn't be "skinny enough".

Can you relate? 

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The past 2 years of my life, I've been on an intense journey of self discovery and a huge part of that was facing fear head on.


I faced it head on when I broke the diet cycle once and for all, and healed my relationship with food and fitness.

I faced it head on when I decided to pay everything I've learned forward and become a health coach and join a tribe of incredible women changing the freaking world

I faced it head on when I took a good hard look at my debt, made a plan and in less than a year, paid off all my credit card debt. 

I faced it head on when I went shirtless on stage for the first time in my life and faced all the body love demons that had been a part of my life for so damn long. 


And heading into this year, I knew that it was time to face a fear I've been living with for a very long time. 




When my dad was 18, his mum died of breast cancer at the age of 44. 

And growing up, I've seen how that loss took such a toll on him. I mean, losing a parent at all let alone at 18 years old is awful -- and something that I'm so grateful to say I've not had to go through myself. Because goddamn, my parents are my best friends and that's something even just thinking about breaks my fucking heart.

And all my life, I've had this little fear living at the back of my mind that I would have the same fate as my grandma. Call it intuition, call it gut, call it fear, it was super present in my world since I was old enough to understand it.

And that fear came to an all time high during my Sophomore year of college when my Dad got tested for the BRCA gene mutations (more info on all of this and real time reactions on episode 6 of the Live Your F*ck Yes Life Podcast) and found out that he was a carrier of the gene (and the only one of his siblings who is).

At the time, I didn't fully understand what that meant,  beyond the fact that I had a 50/50 chance of getting it, and honestly fear took over every ounce of me that I didn't want to know. I was 20 and the way I felt at the time was that knowing would just make it harder.

So I decided not to find out...until this year.

And you know what? Looking back, I'm grateful I waited.

Grateful because at the time, I was going through SO much internally that I think the information I knew deep down was true -- the fact that I also am BRCA 1 positive -- would have broken me in half.

Now, I'm 27, and while I'm still so young, I've lived a lot of life.

Hell, in the last 4 years alone, I've dealt with a binge eating disorder, orthorexia, planned a wedding, dealt with sudden onset anxiety, bought our first house, started my business, moved out of said home and lived in hotels for 6 months because of water damage, navigated job shifts and health issues with my hubby, started a podcast and beyond. 

And that's not counting all the odd jobs, shows, teaching gigs, travels, mentoring and everything else in my life. 

And while so much of it has been incredibly fulfilling and invigorating, a lot of my life has been filled with obstacle after obstacle -- as I'm sure yours has been too, because hey, that's what being a freaking human being is all about, right?

And while, at the time, those obstacles have felt INSURMOUNTABLE, here I am (and here you are) on the other side of it all, STRONGER for it and more self aware than ever. 

And I sit here, grateful for it all, because it gave me the courage to stop waiting.

To show up as a warrior in my life and put the worries to rest.


So yes, I am a woman living with the BRCA 1 gene.

I don't have cancer, yet. But the chance of me getting breast or ovarian cancer is high AF.

And while that in and of itself scares the SHIT out of me, I've never felt more empowered. Because I get to do something about it.

I don't know what that is yet, but you know I'll be sharing it all along the way, mess and all, 'cause that's how I freaking roll. 

And I'm so goddamn grateful to have you along for the ride.

Xo Amanda 


p.s. if you aren't in our Live Your F*ck Yes Life Community, come on over and join the convo. We're all in this together babe.