In Her Words: Brittany Armas

Opting for proactive measures due to a BRCA1+ gene mutation, Brittany Armas embarked on a courageous journey and made the challenging decision to undergo preventative surgeries to minimize her cancer risk. As a previvor, she has chosen to remain flat post-mastectomy, illustrating a narrative of self-empowerment and advocating for body acceptance.

Despite not having a cancer diagnosis, Brittany's path resonates deeply with the complexities of navigating emotions post-surgery, embodying resilience and vulnerability. Her mantra, "keep f-ing going," echoes her unwavering determination, both online and offline, to support others treading similar paths. Her outlook on life, stemming from the specter of breast cancer without direct diagnosis, fuels her fearless dreaming and vibrant existence. Brittany's journey stands as a testament to the transformative power of choice, authenticity and the unyielding human spirit. To further explore the profound evolution sparked by her journey, uncover more of her story here.

Name: Brittany Armas

Age: 40

Location: Fair Oaks, California 

Current Health Status: Previvor , BRCA1+ Mutant 😊


Tell us a little but about yourself. 

My name is Brittany, I live in California, I am 40 years old and I am wife and a mother to 3 children under ages 3-11. I work at a financial firm, help host retreats around the world for women, am a photographer, sound bath ceremony facilitator, body acceptance speaker and advocate for FLAT woman. I do not have much spare time but in my free time I like to explore the outdoors with my family. 

When were you diagnosed with breast cancer?

I carry the BRCA1+  gene mutation and chose to have all preventative surgeries to reduce my odds of Cancer. I am what they call a PREvivor. Cancer runs in my family and all of my great aunts and my aunt on my mother's side have had cancer and I did not want to just screen until it was found. My goal was to hopefully not go through treatment. I was offered genetic testing at 18 years old when my mother was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer at 48 years old. I declined then and at 38, after a scare with a mass on my foot, I decided to finally test. When I got my results I talked with many doctors and we decided preventative surgery was the best route. Where I noticed it was hardest to advocate for myself was when I chose not to reconstruct and go straight to flat.

How did you feel when you were diagnosed?

My first thoughts were, "Wait, what does this really mean?! I always said I would just go flat. Can I really emotionally and physically do that?! I going to get cancer no matter what I do even if I am healthy. Did I pass this on to my children too? Boobs not boobs, monitor or surgery?" Really, I just had so many questions that were all over the place. Lots and lots of what ifs.

How did your friends and family take the news?

Most friends and family just said, "I’m so sorry, what are you going to do?" My mom, husband and closest friends listened and grieved with me over hearing the news and risks we knew I faced. Some gave their opinions on what they thought I should do and others did not understand the big deal. It was a mix of emotions because I did not actually have cancer…yet.

 What kind of treatment did you seek?

I did not have to get treatment but I had preventative surgeries – total hysterectomy and a double mastectomy to flat. I also take HRT (estrogen pills). I had often wondered what I would do if I was diagnosed or found out I had a gene mutation. I often would think of how it may be nice to have perky breasts and no period. But when I faced this reality, I felt much different! All the sudden, I felt the need to act fast as I had a baby and two other young children I wanted to live for. My doctors agreed that my age , and family history meant it was time for prevention surgeries and after having a friend die at 33 after being diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer (the type I was most at risk for) I did not want to take any chances. I figured if I was getting the gift of knowing my DNA was working against me, it felt like a gift to have this knowledge NOW not after a diagnoses when it could be too late. I wanted to do something with the knowledge I had. Knowledge is power and I had to make hard choices to ensure I could hopefully be around for a long time – for those around me and most importantly, my children. 

Have you been able to work while you're going through treatment?

I could not work while I healed from both surgeries, but after the healing process, I worked. I did, however, feel I was not treated the same from my old job and they even decided to “take away” my health benefits once I returned. I am happy to say I did not waste energy there. I ended up getting a much higher paying job and disclosed all my medical history during the interview – being a mom and the fact that I would work retreats a few times a year. They loved me, my work ethic, my drive, my story, hired me and even said I could be part-time and still get health benefits. I no longer stay in places that don’t see my value – it is nothing against them, I just know my value now.  

How have you found the best care?

I found the care I needed by advocating and finding support groups with other woman that could help guide me through social media.

Have you received additional support or sought alternative therapies?

I did hormone replacement therapy (in patch form) and was not a fan. I then went off all hormones, and started them up again (in pill form) about 8 months ago. I'm feeling much better all around. I also have been practicing different modalities that seem to help: yoga, breathwork etc. 

Who have been your biggest supporters and make up your cancer tribe?

My biggest support was my family and my husband. I had some friends who rallied for me while others kind of judged my choices. People who didn't judge me,  while having empathy and compassion as I navigated everything, was the most helpful. My “preventative cancer” tribe is my family, close friends and many woman I met during the process who were going through similar things. 

What have been some of the most challenging aspects of the experience for you?

There has been many challenges – some were just deciding what to do, then advocating and making sure I got results I wanted. Societies view on my choices and a woman’s body were the hardest thing to get through. Then the actually processing and loving my new body with all its missing girl parts. That still comes in waves sometimes but for the most part I feel good and free in my skin!

What is one thing you wish you knew before you were diagnosed?

Well, I was never diagnosed, so I guess this (BRCA1 + mutation) is the one thing I am glad I know and that I have reduced my odds. 

Is there a particular mantra or inspiration that helps you?

Keep f-ing going!! Remember who TF you are! You are not your body and are a divine feminine goddess no matter what! I am safe in my body!

If you could offer a woman, who has been newly diagnosed, some words of wisdom for her journey, what would you tell her?

My words are: reach out find community, it helps not feeling alone. Get in touch with your higher power, whatever that may be. Ride the waves, and hold tight. Find a support person close to you to help you with things that are overwhelming. and remember to advocate and do what is best for YOU!

What are you most proud of in your cancer journey?

I am most proud I was able to do preventative surgery and to be able to go flat. To transmute my pain into beauty, all while being able to share my vulnerability online and in-person for others to see in hopes that someone else who may be going through something similar feels less alone.  

How has breast cancer affected your outlook on life and illness?

I has completely changed my life. I dream big and I am not afraid like I was prior to preventative surgeries. I have one life and have been given the blessing of knowledge and living. I want to stay here for my children, and if that means having a major surgery without actually getting cancer than so be it! I will enjoy every second like it was my last in the meantime. It has not been easy and not all understand but I don’t care if someone doesn't understand – that is why my journey was not giving in to them. That is why MY JOURNEY was given specifically to ME!

Throughout this journey, how have you changed?

I have changed in every way! I am now the person I have always wanted to be. I shattered the cage society gave me as a woman and how I should look. It awakened something inside of me. And now, more than ever,  I am FREE and EMPOWERED! If you would have told me five years ago that I wouldn't have breasts, and that I would have the balls to model lingerie and pose nude for a world renowned photographer, I would have thought you were crazy. Now, anything feels possible.