Conquer and Survive


By Amanda Lacey

Photos Courtesy of Christina Haidemenos

PREVIVOR CHRISTINA HAIDEMENOS on taking her health into her own hands

Christina’s first hike after moving to Denver (March 2022)

Previvor: A person who takes action to reduce or eliminate genetic cancer before it develops or is detected in his or her body. In other words, by being proactive, the patient can survive a genetic predisposition to cancer. Christina Haidemenos proudly wears that badge.

Haidemenos was 10 years old when her mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. She recalls much of her adolescence involving her mom’s doctor appointments and treatments. Just four years later, her mom passed away. Feeling like a cloud had been around her family for some time and wanting to move forward and enjoy life, Haidemenos and her sister opted not to get tested for the gene.

In the summer of 2022, she began to feel differently after a heart-to-heart conversation with her stepmother. From that, she realized the possibility of information at her fingertips, knowing whether or not she’d get breast cancer, which was precisely the encouragement she needed to take the genetic test. The results came back positive for the BRCA2 genetic mutation. Her sister did not test positive.

Feeling utterly devastated and frustrated, Haidemenos realized that those feelings were not helpful. She quickly began researching her options—either wait and get tested regularly or be proactive and address it head-on. With an 87 percent test positivity and feeling it wasn’t a matter of if but when, at just 32 years old, she decided to move forward with a prophylactic bilateral mastectomy to lessen her chances. “I would be lying if I said it was an easy decision. I was sad to lose my breasts (and not be able to breastfeed when I do have children),” she says. “However, I know it was the right decision for me. I made the decision when I realized that it was either anxiety and waiting or getting the surgery and getting it over with, that and knowing that my partner would love me regardless.”

With an excellent support team by her side and The Breasties (an online community of women who have all gone through either a prophylactic mastectomy, had breast cancer or any other type of breast-related surgery) as a go-to resource, she was prepared to take on the big day. “Talking to other people about their experiences and surgery almost normalized it all a bit. It reassured me that breast removal is not the end of the world, and I could still live an incredible life. In some ways, I feel like I can go through anything now,” Haidemenos says. 

Feeling safe with an incredible team of surgeons, Haidemenos underwent surgery in March 2023. However, she encountered a problem that required follow-up surgery along with the support of a hyperbaric oxygen chamber for 14 days. Still, with a positive outlook, she felt the chamber was a good experience to help her body heal.  

Left: Christina getting out of a sand bunker at Torrey Pines Golf Course
Right: Attendees visited TaylorMade Golf’s headquarters and content studio on the second day of the retreat before playing the Park Hyatt Aviara course.

With renewed hope and a positive outlook for the future, Haidemenos decided to pursue a latent dream: hosting golf retreats in destination locations. Having always been a golfer and loving the game, she got to work planning the retreat while still in her hospital bed. A successful long weekend in October 2023 with 14 women in San Diego has Haidemenos on track to continue hosting the next event. With two retreats already on the horizon, she explains, “I ultimately want to bring people together. It’s not just for women—it’s an inclusive place for anyone.”

Now persevering with an “I’ve got it mentality,” Haidemenos sees the positive aspects of her journey and continues to share her experience on her social media, where she can connect and inform others going through the same or similar journey. She says, “In the future, I will be a lot more aware. This has helped me with decision making, with trusting my gut and my intuition.”

Left: All attendees of the Links Social Club’s inaugural ladies’ golf retreat at Torrey Pines Golf Course in San Diego at sunset after 18 holes of golf (Oct. 7, 2023)
Right: Christina’s family out to dinner in New York City before a family wedding. (Left to right) Leo Haideman, Julie Haideman, Christina Haidemenos, Quentin Allums, Tom Nash, Sarah Nash, Alexia Haidemanos, Allison Nash

Christina’s next Ladies Golf Retreat is May 16–20, 2024, in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina.

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