Breast Cancer 2 Bikini: Joy's Strength
If breast or gynecological cancers run in your family, you might be a candidate for a simple, mouth rinse BRCA test - available at some doctor's offices. In Health Watch, meet a woman who says it's crucial to find out.
A story of faith...
"My father, my mother, my sister, my baby brother, all of them had many bouts with cancer."
Amid tragedy Joy Cuciak is a survivor - who continues to fight. Fighting for her family, who lost their voice to cancer.
But even through all the pain and suffering...
"Father, thank you that you have promised all things work together for the good of those who love you."
Joy has remained faithful, thankful, hopeful...and grateful to be able to share her story with us - for one reason.
"That people become more aware of BRCA - this mutated gene."
Joy tested BRCA or BRCA-positive.
These mutated tumor suppressor genes increase the risk of several cancers - from breast and ovarian to pancreatic. Both Joy’s parents tested positive.
And months after her dad died, “my mom was diagnosed with cancer for the fourth time in her life - with ovarian cancer."
Joy cared for her during treatment. And while in the hospital - decided to get tested herself.
"They did a mammogram and I was told right then and there we found cancer in your breast."
But through it all, she knew God would heal her.
Along with chemo 13 years ago, Joy opted for a radical bilateral mastectomy and hysterectomy.
"It certainly wasn't popular and nobody do this kind of radical thing, but that's what was in my heart to do."
Joy's defied the odds.
During treatment, she went to her daughter's graduation - in a wig.
She won awards for work as a realtor. She even traveled overseas - advocating for Christian martyrs - resulting the release of five Chinese underground church leaders.
And now cancer free...she has another challenge! To push her body for a fitness competition - with fellow survivors.
Yes, Joy too, is part of the Breast Cancer 2 Bikini group at Evoke Fitness.
And while this is completely out of her comfort zone -
Joy's proof that with faith anything is possible.
"I want at 62 to put on a ridiculous bikini with every ounce of bravery I can garner to do that walk so that I can get my family' story out there."
Joy has three children - who also tested BRCA-positive.
Her daughter is pregnant and plans to have a prophylactic double mastectomy and hysterectomy too, once she is done with nursing her twins.