1. How do you know me?
My name is Julie Ruest, I am Hayley’s older sister.
2 What were your thoughts when you first heard of my BRCA gene mutation diagnosis?
JULIE:I was in NC when I got the news, I knew she was being tested but I wasn’t expecting her test results to be positive. I felt helpless for her and I was terrified. I didn’t know how to help her through, My heart broke.
3. How did you feel when I told you I was going ahead with a Bilateral Mastectomy with reconstruction?
JULIE: I felt relieved, I was hoping she would make that decision. I can’t imagine how terrifying that would be, especially in her mid twenties. She’s a fighter.
4. Do you know anyone else with the BRCA gene mutation or who has had a double mastectomy?
JULIE:Hayley’s twin, our sister Jesse also tested positive.
5. If there was anything about my decision you would have changed what would that be?
JULIE: I can’t say I truly understand because I don’t. I’m also not sure what Hayley’s true feelings are about this whole thing, however; with what she has displayed I can’t say I would change anything. She has taken cancer by the balls and said no! I would hope she is getting the support she needs, if not I guess I would change that she would seek more counseling if that is what she needed?
6. Now that I have had the surgery, how do you feel knowing I’m having complications and will undergo another surgery?
JULIE: My heart is aching for her, I wish she could just catch a break. I don’t know if she can see the strain it has put on all aspects of her life. She has down days and when she does it’s noticeable.
7. Is there anything you don’t understand regarding the diagnosis?
JULIE: Hayley has been very clear on the risks of going ahead with the surgery and the risks of not going ahead with it. I am sure there is still lots I don’t understand, we just haven’t crossed those bridges. I
8. Do you think the health systems provide enough awareness and preventative measures for Breast and Ovarian Cancer?
JULIE: I don’t think they do, I had never even heard of the BRCA cancer gene until Hayley’s aunt passed away. The problem is, you cannot be tested unless your parent has tested positive. This all came about because Hayley’s aunt passed away, my sisters are lucky they got the chance to catch it in time. They had to lose an aunt for that to happen. Something needs to change. This should be available to everyone.
9. Would you have done anything different then my choice?
JULIE: Absolutely not! That’s a no brainer to me. I cannot express how courageous I think Hayley is. I can’t say I would have been as proactive. I was unbelievably terrified for my sister, for her wellbeing and her mental health and she just took it in grace and dignity and moved forward.
10. Any comments, opinions or advice you would like to give to family and friends about being affected by someone with the BRCA gene?
JULIE: My sister is my hero. To all the ladies out there going through this, you are heroes among heroes! You are beautiful! Don’t stop fighting for your health, you have that right and remember, not everyone has the chance to say no to cancer!
11. Any comments or advice for me?
JULIE: Hayley Dawn, you are wise beyond your years! Stay strong and battle back, you got this girl! We are behind you and love you!