Families, Health and BRCA

Well, if you know me you know I’m a person who isn’t too fond of the unknown when it comes to health and safety.

A few weeks ago during a normal doctors appointment the nurse practitioner found what she classified as  “lump” under my right arm. As I left the doctor’s office the panic of my family history started setting in. I called my husband on the drive home in tears because of the word “lump” and the innuendo it created for me due to my family history. The dirty truth is for me my mother and my grandmother both had breast cancer. So for me it isn’t a matter of if it’s a matter of when it will choose to show up. Being on the south side of 40, it seems as I get older I feel there is a bit of the Darth Vader music going on in the background of this particular scenario as both my family members were close to 40 when it started for them.

While I was at the appointment I was offered gene testing. At first I mentally said yes, absolutely 100% I want to know, (I really like absolute answers with health and safety)….and then I started wondering: did I really want to know? Hmm…there were alot of paths here if the answer was yes…. and there were even some if the answer was no because it only looked at two particular gene patterns. I talked a lot with my husband and my step mom about what all this meant and where it was leading.The medical staff kept saying that Angelina Jolie was so lucky with her choice. In the cloud of my confusion all I could really could think was a.) this is a $4500 test b.) do I really want to know c.) I’m not a movie star, I’m me: a mom, a wife, a sister, a daughter – just me, nobody fancy – but alas we are both women and mom’s regardless of financial class, social status or jobs d.) what if the answer was yes, then I have to make a decision about what path to take.

With a visit to the Carol Milgard Breast Center I was given my annual 3D mammogram, as well as an ultrasound. There was nothing there, which was a relief – everyone agrees it could of been a various amount of factors which caused an inflammation. Stress does odd things to the body. The medical doctor offered me to speak with my doctor also about getting an MRI done to get greater detail. Given yet another tool in the fight against an invasive cancer I moved forward with more determination than I had before. This appointment helped me decide, even when your afraid of the answer – it is better to be proactive than reactive in a situation which can go from bad to worse at the snap of a finger.

Bottom line is this, my breasts and ovaries are body parts, they don’t define me as a woman. My husband 100% supports a woman’s right to choose what happens to her body. (For that I am eternally grateful that I am married to a man who is as compassionate about woman’s issues and rights as I am). My family health history is what it is and can’t be changed. I’ve been lucky enough to give birth to beautiful twin girls who have blessed my life with clarity, compassion and unconditional love. My ovaries have served their purpose and my breasts can be replaced, so in the end I say take them if it means I get longer on the earth to watch my family and friends live, laugh and love. There’s too much left to do in life to not know the answer to if those genes exists in my body.

As I head out this morning to get the BRCA 1&2 results,  I’m thinking of all the thousands of other women who’ve gone before me to get their results. I share in their nerves and determination to have a choice over what happens to my future health. However, my heart goes out to those women who can’t have this test and may be faced without the choice of predetermination. My hope is soon this proactive test will be available to all women regardless of insurance coverage or financial cost.