Good news! After waiting the interminable two weeks for my results, working myself into a bit of a frenzy, and the weird incessant chatter that came out of my mouth when I sat down with the genetic counselor to get my results, I was told that I test negative for the three most common mutations of the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes.
I was able to tell my daughter and my niece that they don’t have to worry. Or do they? My genetic counselors told me that they are NOT convinced that there is not some genetic component to my breast cancer, since my Mom had it, and I had it and we are of Ashkenazy Jewish descent and it rained last Tuesday… or whatever.
So, who knows. The good news is I don’t have to run out and start cutting off various parts of my body just in case. I can place my bets on the odds being that I and my daughter and niece will be just fine.
They did recommend that when I finish my 5 years of Tamoxifen Hell and every six month boob squeezes and pics (aka Mammograms, Ultrasounds and MRIs) that I consider getting a more in-depth gene profile done. This would tell me if I have any mutations on other genes (not BRCA1 or BRCA2) that might be “related” to breast cancer. The five year postponement of additional info I might not know what to do with is perfect for my ostrich-like, head-in-the-sand tendencies, so I’m going with that.
Other women are not so lucky. What do you do if you have the gene? Pull an Angelina Jolie and have a double mastectomy – and then based on your age and desires, try to pop out a kid or two before you have your ovaries cut out of you and dance off into early menopause? All on a statistical “guess” that you might get breast or ovarian cancer? These are decisions I would not want to make. And even if I had been told I had one of the mutations, my decisions would have been less intense than for some women. I’m 46, don’t want more kids, and am probably close to menopause anyway.
My heart goes out to all women dealing with breast cancer. Or cancer of any kind at any stage. But the decision making that has to follow a positive BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation result has to be one of the most confusing, stressful, scary things a woman can hear. Your decisions are your own and I can understand any decision a woman would make with this knowledge. My best advice would be to talk to everyone you can before making a decision. ALL of your doctors, your family, your friends and even though they say not to do it, I would google – I’m sure. Sometimes you can find support, a laugh, a virtual hug, or some virtual friends who’ve been through it out here on the interwebs. My heart is with you… even as I breathe my own huge sigh of relief.