By Stephanie Broadhurst/The Mother List
For HGTV Design Star Meg Caswell, watching her mother, grandmother and cousin fight breast cancer led her to make a life-changing decision: Undergoing a preventative double mastectomy in January 2013.
Her decision was not an easy one. Caswell knew that breast cancer ran in her family. When her cousin Candy got diagnosed with it at age 43, Caswell, along with other family members, got tested. The results showed that she carried the BRCA1 gene mutation, which put her at high risk for breast and ovarian cancers.
Caswell was still young (age 27) and not sure she wanted to jump into a radical surgery. She wanted to breastfeed her future children, and she knew that having a double mastectomy meant she couldn’t do that.
Then, when her cousin Candy lost her battle with breast cancer on her 48th birthday and left behind two young children, Caswell reached a pivotal moment:
“I was speaking at Candy’s funeral and looking at her kids, and I realized right then that I had to do this for my future children. Breastfeeding my kids was not nearly as important as my health — or my being there for them,” she says. Her husband (Randy Holladay, who works in the TV industry, too) fully supported her choice.
One year after her cousin’s death, in January 2013, Caswell chose to have a double mastectomy and reconstruction — the one-step procedure, which aims to get women back on their feet faster. Angelina Jolie recently underwent the same elective double mastectomy, but she had the two-step procedure. Caswell also plans to have her ovaries removed after she’s finished having children.
“I didn’t realize what a weight it was on my shoulders until after it was done. Every time I would expose myself to something, a carcinogen, an extra glass of wine, I would worry about it,” she says. “My risk of breast cancer was 80 percent, and now it’s all but eliminated. I just rewrote my future.”
The recovery was not easy, she says, but now she is feeling healthy and has moved forward with her life – including getting pregnant just 7 months after the surgery.
“It’s a boy! I’m due on April 27,” she says, excitedly. “The pregnancy is going well, and I’m having fun decorating the nursery.”
How is this Design Star planning to decorate the baby’s room?
“I found these duck booties … and I totally designed the room around them,” Caswell says. She’s incorporating colors like navy blue, Kelly green, white, and a mix of fun fabrics — with a splash of orange and aqua blue. She is using port-hole mirrors and using vintage artwork from her husband’s nursery.
As a busy celebrity, Caswell is plunging into motherhood with plenty of help.
“I have a very supportive husband … After maternity leave, I will have help with the baby, and my husband’s work schedule is flexible. He is over-the-moon excited to be a dad — to have a new best friend and a little buddy to hang out with. This is the first boy in the family.”
So far, Caswell’s favorite part about being pregnant is feeling her baby kick. “It makes it so real and puts it into perspective,” she says. “There’s a little human being in there — and I can’t wait to meet him!”
Regarding her decision to have the double mastectomy, Caswell offers some caring advice: “It’s such a difficult personal decision. But if there’s anything I can say to encourage people who have tested positive … and they are waiting to have surgery because they want to breastfeed, or they are scared of the surgery, it’s that your life and your health far outweigh those.”
She adds: “I’m happy to answer questions from anyone who is fearful or worried about the unknown. I want women who are scared of this to reach out to me.”
For questions or concerns, contact Meg directly at: Meg@megcaswell.com
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