My BRCA (2) is Broke-A… Now What? First let me put on my doctor’s hat… ok, yeah, I’m not a doctor, I’m a graphic designer, but really same difference, right? And I’ve been reading so much medical junk, I’m practically a doctor.
Anyway, everybody has the BRCA genes. You, and you and you ::me pointing at you::
“BRCA stands for BReast CAncer susceptibility gene. There are two BRCA genes: BRCA1 and BRCA2. Normally, they help protect you from getting cancer. But when you have changes or mutations on one or both of your BRCA genes, cells are more likely to divide and change rapidly, which can lead to cancer.”
In May my mother was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. She is currently going through a course of chemotherapy. During the diagnosis phase my mother was given the BRCA genetic test to see if she was a carrier, she was. This outcome brought my sister, brother and I into this medical story.
My sister and I began getting every screening and test out there, including genetic tests of our own. My sister took hers first. We never think about it as half, but we’re half sisters with different fathers. Her father passed away from cancer when she was young. So, with that fact her path is different than mine. My biological father recently passed away, but did not have cancer. Added to the genetic cocktail here, we are Ashkenazi Jews (European Jews) which also adds to this gene mumbo-jumbo of being a contributor to a higher risk of cancer. My mother’s ancestry is European Jew, but my father’s is Irish/Spanish. So, there was some thought I could test negative, but, y’know of course not. My BRCA 2 gene is a mutation. A lousy, rotten mutation. So, is my sisters. We’ve both got slacker mutants living inside us. Jerks.
Hence my brilliantly funny joke — My BRCA is Broke-A. Look, I’ve got a stupid mutation in me, laugh at my dumb joke. Go ahead, I’ll wait.
So, now what? At this point in this riveting story our brave hero – ME! My story, I get to describe myself any way I choose. I’m going with Brave Hero. My oncologist, I have a friggin’ oncologist! I don’t have cancer, but now I have an oncologist. But, he’s a very nice man. Anyway, he’s setting me up with an appointment for a genetic consultation to learn more and discuss options.
Knowledge is power, or so they say. But, they also say ignorance is bliss. For me, this one rings a little truer. Yesterday at 3pm I didn’t have some stupid mutated gene slacking on the job. I was pretty blissful. By 4pm I found out about this slacker and the knowledge didn’t feel powerful. Actually, I was pretty pissed off. Did I need to know this? Could I have just lived with the information my mom had cancer and I would now have to be vigilant with my screenings and my health? Was it imperative for me to know about my little slacking mutant and the destruction he could potentially cause? His main function was to fight off cancer, but since the idiot mutated my risk of breast cancer has jumped substantially from around 12% to 40%-70%! My dude, WTF you had one job and you muffed it!
Now I’ve got choices to make, big, huge decisions regarding how aggressively I’ll handle this. Preventative bilateral mastectomy and hysterectomy. Wow, right? I know! But, I don’t know if I’ll go that route. Before I found out about my slacking mutant I said I would, now I want knowledge and information and even some dumbed down statistics. I hate math, so show me on your fingers and toes what my odds are with and without surgery.
Well, here we are, all caught up on the story of our Brave Hero. Our brave hero and her dumb ol’ sidekick slacker mutant. We’ll figure this all out. Will I cut this jerk out of my life for good or learn to co-exist? I dunno. But, I’m going with Knowledge is Power because it’s too late for Ignorance is Bliss.