Lesley Murphy was driving by herself for four hours when she received the most harrowing call of her life: she tested positive for the BRCA 2 genetic mutation and had a higher risk for developing breast and ovarian cancer.
“It was a sobering moment,” The Bachelor Winter Games star, 31, exclusively tells Us Weekly. “I remember kind of turning the music off and just sitting there with that news … My heart kind of sank because I remember, a week prior to that call, I went in to get this simple blood test, and my mom said, ‘You know, your two sisters have already tested for this. You’re home for a week or so, you should go do it.’ And I said, ‘You’re right. I should get the blood test. It’ll be nothing.’ And the last thing she said to me was, ‘It will be negative.’”
Murphy’s older sister tested positive as well, but her younger sister tested negative. “I was the tie-breaker. I had that drive ahead of me, and at first, I sat there with that news, with the music off,” she recalled. “Then I turned the music up and got it all out of my system. I started singing really loud and screaming and yelling and kind of just got the nervous out a little bit.”
The Bachelor alum’s mom “felt so guilty because she essentially passed down to me.” Murphy, however, felt no anger. “I have said this before and I’ll say it all day, that if that’s the worst I get from the genes I’ve received, then I’l take it all day, because my parents have given me so much … It took a lot of nerve and courage and gut to undergo that surgery, but now it’s all taken care of and I’m so glad I’m on the other side of it.”
A master of her own fate, Murphy took matters into her own hands after finding out her diagnosis by having a preventative double mastectomy. “I just had a huge support system and a lot of faith in my ability to recover and bounce back with everything that surrounded me: my health, my support system, my faith,” she tells Us of preparing for her reconstruction surgery. “So I was in a really in a good mindset and a good headspace for it. And of course, I was nervous.”
Although Murphy remained positive throughout the experience, sometimes her nerves got the best of her. “I was taken aback a few different times during the process, and the first time [I saw my new appearance] was the day after the double mastectomy. When I caught a glimpse of what I looked like through a FaceTime call … I will never forget,” she shared. “I looked like a corpse. I looked like I had been in a bear fight and lost, and it’s so interesting to know that you can look that bad and you can look that bruised and beaten and heal so incredibly well as if nothing bad ever happened. The human body really is amazing and I think that’s what I found so neat about the whole experience. I mean, I really did begin to love that whole journey because it was kind of like I was in my own little Grey’s Anatomy episode.”
Murphy is now giving back to women in similar situations by taking groups abroad through her LimitLes Travel Series. In October, to recognize Breast Cancer Awareness Month, The Road Les Traveled blogger brought a group of women to Bali to assist local women who have been affected by cancer. “[It was about] bringing people together for connection and to kind of stare cancer in the face,” the reality star tells Us. “We’re doing this all again next year!”
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