Caitlin Brodnick is not shy about talking about her boobs.
The Astoria comedian first shared her experience having a preventive double mastectomy at the age of 28 in Glamour’s 2013 documentary “Screw You Cancer.” But she knew she had more to share about the unique experience.
Her new memoir, “Dangerous Boobies: Breaking Up with My Time-Bomb Breasts” ($16.99), sheds more light on what it’s like to have the BRCA1 mutation — which increases your risk of having certain cancers — from getting tested to breast reconstruction.
amNewYork spoke with Brodnick, now 32.
After the film, why did you want to write a book?
Once I realized I wanted to go through with the surgery, at the time, in 2013, there was really nothing like this out there. There are tons of books on breast cancer prevention and life after breast cancer, but there’s certainly nothing comedic. I didn’t want it to be a sad, heavy cancer book because I would never have wanted to pick it up. It’s hard to talk to family members about breast cancer prevention, and you could feel isolated throughout. I was trying to think like if Mindy Kaling was writing a cancer book. I’ve read her books so many times. She was so honest. I was happy to share every detail of my surgery.
Did you find anything you related to at the time?
I got diagnosed [in 2010]. It was all so new. People weren’t talking about doing this surgery, especially at such a young age. In 2013, when I decided to have the surgery, I would look for YouTube videos. I didn’t want to go to a cancer support group because I felt like a fraud — I didn’t want to take attention away from cancer patients.
Does it feel like a weight has been lifted since your surgery?
It really has. I feel so good, I feel so relieved. I really feel it was such a good decision. I had a feeling it would be better when I was younger, so I could also heal faster.
How has your experience made its way into your work as a comedian?
I like comedic storytelling. That’s the idea of my stand-up — it’s very honest. After, there’s always an audience member who comes up and says, “My mother had breast cancer, I went through the whole process with her,” or, “I’m thinking of getting the surgery.” It’s a way of meeting all these incredible people — that’s been amazing, too. I’ve also done stand-up at cancer events and forums. When you go to a cancer research conference, everything’s really heavy, everything’s really sad and serious, and there’s rarely lightness there. I feel really honored to be able to come. For me to be able to crack jokes about popping pain medication, that’s great.
How are you involved in breast cancer awareness?
I volunteer for FORCE [Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered]. I really emphasize that this is my story. This isn’t the right decision for everyone. It took me years to decide to do it. I understand there’s a lot of fear. If people decide to get tested, I recommend going to a genetic counselor. A good one understands all of the steps and emotions you go through. I think it’s really valuable.