My Genes and Other Things
So you know that feeling when you buy a new car and then when you’re driving you notice how many of your cars are on the road that you’ve never really noticed before? In a way, that’s kind of how I feel with having cancer. Although I don’t just see cancer when I am driving (via billboards), it’s there on other people’s social media posts, it’s on my TV shows and in my email box. And whenever I see a glimpse of I it try to divert my eyes…like if I turn it off or look away fast I won’t be reminded that I am in this fight.
I get reminded in other ways too. Not just the tiredness or nausea. But the du
ll pain in my chest and back. A semi-constant reminder that there is something there, that shouldn’t be. The good news is that at my last oncology appointment that the doctor thought the tumor was responding well to the chemotherapy and already noticed it was shrinking. But I still have that dull pain inside me. So I know it’s there.
So onto my genes. One of the first things people ask when they learn you have breast cancer is – especially my youthful age of 37 – do you have a family history? Well I didn’t. But I met with Sutter’s Genetic Counseling/Cancer Risk Program to help me understand my risk based on family history and a simple blood test. The most common genes they are looking for, BCRA1 and BCRA2, are involved in 2/3 of genetic predisposition for major risk of breast cancer. A less common and less risky gene malformation is the Chek2 gene. And that’s what the genetic testing found in my case. The Check2 gene is a relatively new discovery that slightly to moderately increases your risk for breast and colon cancer. What I am left to figure out with my surgeons is what is my best surgical path. With the BCRA genes there is more standard protocols and recommendations, but with Check2 it seems more like a personal decision for a lumpectomy vs double mastectomy. My first reaction was just do the mastectomy and take these boobs – I am done with them. But the more I am reading there are pros and cons for having such an invasive procedure. I have two surgical consultations scheduled so I can weigh my options. Because of the raised colorectal cancer risk I will be getting a colonoscopy earlier and on a more frequent basis.
As for Check2 and how it affects my family – my girls will be monitored more closely at earlier ages to see if the gene was carried onto them (50/50 chance). And we need to see which of my parents carry the gene to make sure they are getting appropriate screenings. Hopefully in the coming years there will be more research and statistics on this gene to help with screening and treatment protocols.
Besides that I am starting to feel on the uptick after my second chemotherapy cycle. This time I managed my queasiness through the nausea medications and got a lot of rest over the weekend. I also didn’t get the same rash and breakouts I did round one – and fingers crossed that the mouth sores don’t come back. I am also trying to stay positive and keep my mental game strong. I am starting to practice meditation and went to the Art of Living Meditation Event in Sacramento featuring Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. I also got treated to a bodywork massage / myofascial release session which was very healing and helped me refocus my energies. My main goal is to stay in the present because any thoughts about the future are just thoughts and not truths.