Survivor, BRCA style

One of my best friend's favorite shows was Survivor. Yep, that Survivor.

I turned it on tonight. Apparently this year it's beauty vs. brains vs. brawn. And it kind of got me thinking that this is sort of reflective of this BRCA journey.

The whole premise of the show is to be isolated on an island with a bunch of strangers, make alliances and then vote off your enemies and, eventually, your friends. When you get your diagnosis, you very much feel like you've been tossed on an island where you know the end goal, but have no idea how to get there.

Right now, I feel like I'm starting to make my alliances -- doctors, BRCActivists, support groups, etc. I watch others take the steps I'm not ready to take. I see their results, both positive and negative, with surgeries, surveillance and treatments. I'm formulating my end goal and envisioning what would be my ideal timeline and cosmetic result.

But you can't help but question your game plan. Just like the players on Survivor, I never know when my tribe will turn against me and I'll find a lump or get that horrific bloat that could signal something worse. I never know if I'm making the right choices in waiting and toying with the idea of a third kid or am I that guy (there's one every season) who feels safe and doesn't play the hidden immunity idol and then gets voted off. Or doesn't vote off the very people (or boobs) that are gunning for me.

So can I win the jackpot -- which is having the family I want, the surgeries I want and a totally clean bill of health at the end -- or will I be blindsided?

And then there's the tribal splits that hit me. Brains got me here. The knowledge that I needed to test and the knowledge of what that means for me and my family. But what I need to get through this is my physical health. I need to get stronger to be ready for recovery; I need brawn to muscle through that physical challenge. And, maybe, if I'm lucky, in the end I will have some beauty both physically and in the knowledge that I will be here in the end.

I'm not sure if I'm striving for all three of those things or if I really can't have any but one. What if we can't all be the lone Survivor?

And do I want to be the lone Survivor? The hardest part about watching my mother-in-law go through her treatments and years of survival after was watching her lose friends she had made along the way. I can only hope that the previvor friends I make along this way are with me for the long haul. But many women don't find out about their BRCA status until after their cancer diagnosis. Or they get blindsided while in maintenance mode.

Outwit. Outplay. Outlast. That's the motto of Survivor.

Hopefully, there are many survivors in this game.