It Only Takes A Second To Get A Second

Twenty years ago the assumption was that if your mother died from breast cancer, you would more likely die from the disease as well.  Now, genetic testing and preventative surgeries have given women options to outlive their mothers.

Ten yeas ago, the assumption was that to find your buddies from high school and connect with them you would have to spend a lot of time doing research by phone.  Now, FaceBook has created new possibilities to connect people all over the world in moments.

What’s not possible today that could be possible tomorrow?

Growing up, anytime I said that I couldn’t do something my dad would always ask me the same question.  I’d say “Dad, I can’t get an A in chemistry.”  And he’d say “Who chiseled that over the door?”  “Dad, I’m too young to be a sales manager.”  “Who chiseled that over the door?”  “Dad, I have a 54% risk of getting ovarian cancer.”  “Who chiseled that over the door?”

Asking that same question over and over throughout my life meant I was constantly challenging assumptions and creating new possibilities.

With the news of a genetic mutation on my BRCA 1 gene, the assumption was that I had a 54% chance of getting ovarian cancer and I was 87% likely to get breast cancer.

“Who chiseled that over the door?”

After asking the question, I focused on three things.  I got clear about what really drives my decisions, I revived my sense of optimism that things will work out and I chose to become a “pre-vivor.”  Those three things were the keys to new possibilities.

First, I got clear about what drives every decision I make.  Anything you can do to help you distill your core values is a good first step when making a decision.  With your top five “drivers” in front of you, decision making is easier. The first decision, to do everything possible to aggressively change the path of my health was easy when  referenced against my drivers: legacy, connection, making a difference, freedom and health.

Second, I revived my sense of optimism.  With any bad news it’s hard to immediately think from a place of optimism.  People come out of the woodwork to tell you their horror stories.  Not wanting to be “Pollyanna” about the topic, but also not willing to hear stories of doom and gloom, I made a choice to focus on getting the data I would need to ensure a positive outcome.  There is no shortage of amazing women to talk to who had been down the path and felt fantastic in the end.

You can only make decisions based on the information you have and while the internet makes it easier to search, medical lingo makes it difficult to understand.  It was only after consulting with more than twenty women, nine surgeons and reading countless posts in chat rooms on,, and several other sites that I felt totally comfortable that I was asking the right questions, uncovering all my options and able to make the best decisions for me.  Getting a second opinion from a surgeon (well, a fifth opinion in my case) led me to a much better decision for me.  Hey, I didn’t marry the first guy I dated, I wasn’t about to let the first surgeon I met take out my uterus!  (Watch a great video

Third, I took action to fight the cancer as if I already had the diagnosis and as a result became a “pre-vivor.”  Cancer survivors bravely fight and win the battle against their disease.  Pre-vivors fight the same battle, but they do it before the cancer shows up to the party.

Of course, not all women will make the same choice I made, but all women can take the time to get a second opinion.

In the end, it worked.  Today, my risk of both cancers is less than 2%.  I don’t know what will kill me, but I have a pretty good idea of what won’t kill me and that is something you can chisel over the door.

Merit Gest teaches people how to become Possibility Thinkers at conferences around the globe.  To book Merit for your next event, please call 720-980-1286, or visit

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

clear formPost comment