Tag Archive | test

All In The Family

Image… Or is it? When I was diagnosed with breast cancer 3 1/2 years ago, I learned that breast cancer runs in my father’s side of the family. I had never known this, probably because people in my grandparent’s generation never discussed such private body parts, um I mean, topics. Problem is, though, my father is an only child and men do not typically get breast cancer, so knowing the degree to which I might or might not be predisposed to breast or ovarian cancer was a bit in question.
Was it a random fluke or was it an environmentally caused cancer? Was it my own body’s lack of sufficient immunity? Was it indeed a genetic mutation in my DNA?                                              I think every woman who receives a cancer diagnosis yearns for that answer. It hangs over us like a dark cloud, partly because we think, perhaps, that if we know what caused our cancer we could prevent it from happening again. Well, as it turns out that may be partly true.

Women who test positive for the breast cancer gene(s) BRCA 1 or 2 are at a ten fold risk for breast and ovarian cancer over the general population. They tend to get these cancers under the age of 50, and they have a 50/50 chance of passing the genes onto their children. In the case of ovarian cancer, because there are no screening tests for the disease, by the time it is detected it is often in latter stages. With the advancement of technology it has recently been determined that additional women, initially deemed negative for the gene mutation like myself, can potentially test positive with a new test, called BART. ( BRCA large analysis rearrangement test) 3 1/2 years ago the genetic counselors told me that in years to come more advancements in testing would come available and this is beginning to happen now.

With my recent gyn ovarian symptoms and consideration for a hysterectomy, my oncologist recommended that I be tested. Today was the appointment for that test along with a lengthy counseling session with the geneticist. It was very educational and while the likelihood of a positive result being very slim, she has seen some surprising twists in other patient outcomes. It can have huge repercussions, so having the results is important to me. Not just for me, as far as surgical decisions going forward, but for my children, their children, my siblings and their children. Gone are the days when people were denied insurability based on genetics alone. Times are changing and some circles are realizing that knowledge is power and it is actually saving lives!!

While waiting for my blood draw I ran into a survivor friend. She also originally tested negative for the genes. She also is in a high risk category. When I told her what I was doing there she was shocked to learn of this new test for the first time and wants to see if it is something she should pursue as well. The problem with a statistic (which we often hear quoted) that only 7-10% of breast cancers are genetic, is that it is only based on those who <b>get</b> tested! If more women got tested would those numbers actually be higher? We won’t know until insurance companies agree to test more women and results are made known. In the meantime, survivors need to stay on top of the leading news in research and testing and press their doctors to advocate for answers to that burning question… Is it in my DNA?

The Wait

Six more days until the biopsy.  This must be the worst part.  The not knowing…the worrying.  I feel  shooting sensations in my breast.  I have had them for the past several months but sort of ignored it and figured they would tell me at my annual if I needed to worry about that.  It’s a constant reminder of what’s to come, although, even that I don’t really know what to expect WILL come.  I think about all sort sof things.  I think about what I will say if they tell me its benign.  I think of what I’ll do if they tell me it’s not.  I think of what I’ll tell my children and I think of what my breast will look like if they have to operate on it in any way.  I think to myself that it is all very strange that I decided in April that I would not return to work this fall and, everyone seemed so puzzled as to why I would do that!  After all, I loved my job!  I wanted to stay home full time and build my business and clean my house, I told myself.  And really, it was the truth!  But now I wonder if God has something else in the works for me and He was opening my schedule to make room for it. I could let my mind get carried away with this thing and I am trying really hard not to.  My gynecologist called last week so I could talk to her about my test results and she seemed very guarded in her answers and said that this shouild feinately be explored.  She also said (twice) “You’ll be in my prayers”.  Why would she say that?  I found it very odd.  Did she read something ominous in the report? I wish  knew for sure.  Well on a lighter note, isn’t this butterfly pretty?  I took this photo this Labor Day weekend when my husband and I went away for the night and stopped by an orchard on our way home from Pennsylvania.  It could be published in National Geographic, don’t ya think? This is a hobby I have long wanted to explore, photography, and with the purchase of a new fancy camera I am on my way!

Until next week…