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Redmond's Eva Moon turns to music to face cancer risk

Redmond resident Eva Moon had three surgeries this year and wrote a one-woman show to tell about her experiences: “The Mutant Diaries: Unzipping My Genes.” - Samantha Pak, Redmond Reporter
Redmond resident Eva Moon had three surgeries this year and wrote a one-woman show to tell about her experiences: “The Mutant Diaries: Unzipping My Genes.”
— image credit: Samantha Pak, Redmond Reporter

Facing cancer can be scary.

There is the prospect of surgery, chemotherapy and radiation — among other possible medical procedures, as well as deteriorating health.

For Eva Moon, all of this was a real possibility just last year. Her grandmother had been diagnosed with ovarian cancer and her mother had faced both uterine and abdominal cancer. In addition, Moon’s mother carried the BRCA1 gene — a genetic mutation that significantly increases a woman’s risk of a number of cancers.

Because their mother carried the gene, there was a 50 percent chance Moon and her two sisters would also carry the gene. All three women were tested in October 2011, but Moon was the only one to test positive for the gene, which occurs in one in 400 women. In Eastern European Jews, Moon’s background, the gene occurs in one in 40 women.

As a result, Moon’s risk for breast cancer increased from 12 to 87 percent and her risk for ovarian cancer went from less than 1 percent to 55 percent.

THREE SURGERIES IN THREE MONTHS

“After I found out I tested positive, I had a lot of difficult decisions to make,” the 56-year-old Redmond resident said.

Among those decisions was one to take preventative steps to ensure she wouldn’t get cancer later in life. Moon underwent surgery for a full hysterectomy to beat ovarian cancer. She also had a bilateral mastectomy to have both breasts removed in order to beat breast cancer.

“I didn’t feel I had a choice,” she said.

Moon said the decision to have both breasts removed was “really hard” as she strongly identifies with her body as a woman. After the procedure, Moon chose to also have reconstruction surgery — her third major surgery in the span of three months.

“Feeling whole as a woman is critical to recovery and quality of life,” she said.

It is so critical that Moon said federal law requires insurance companies that cover mastectomies also need to cover reconstruction surgery.

Rather than get implants, Moon took a different route, having fat removed from her buttocks and injected into her breasts.

A ONE-WOMAN SHOW

One of the ways Moon has dealt with the difficult year she has had has been through music. The songwriter and theater performer has written a one-woman show called “The Mutant Diaries: Unzipping My Genes,” which will be showing at 8 p.m. on Jan. 18-19, 2013 at the Valley Center Stage at 119 W. North Bend Way in North Bend. During the hour-long show, amidst nine songs with monologues in between, Moon shares with the audience the struggles, as well as the sillier moments she has experienced in the last year.

“The songs are hilarious,” she said. “There’s always something to laugh about.”

Tickets for the show are $12.50 for general admission and $10 for seniors.

PAYING IT FORWARD

Although writing “Mutant Diaries” has helped Moon personally deal with her situation, she hesitated when it came to performing the show on stage because she said didn’t want to become known as “mastectomy girl.”

To help with her decision, Moon turned to the message boards on the website for Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered (FORCE). FORCE is a national nonprofit organization devoted to support, education, advocacy, awareness and research specific to hereditary breast and ovarian cancer.

Anna Kuwada, the outreach coordinator for the Seattle-area chapter of FORCE, has seen Moon’s show and said the other woman presents her story in a way that is relatable. Kuwada said “Mutant Diaries” is a mix of information about the BRCA gene, as well as Moon’s personal and emotional story.

“We all kind of work through the decisions and the emotional baggage,” Kuwada said. “And this was the way (Moon) did it.”

Kuwada added that FORCE wants to work with Moon to find a way to raise money for the local chapter through her show.

When Moon posted her question about performing her show on stage, she received a lot of support from others. This support for her show, as well as the support she received when facing her surgeries, have really helped Moon get through everything and she wanted to do the same thing and show that her life “doesn’t stop because this happened.”

“This is my chance to pay that (support) forward,” she said.

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