Thursday, October 30, 2014

Genetics - Part 1

Part of your mom having breast cancer is learning all about genetics and BRCA1 and BRCA2. Apparently there are 21 genes that can predispose you to breast and ovarian cancer, and these are two of them. If you have this BRCA gene, you're 80% likely to get breast or ovarian cancer and so some women opt to have double mastectomies even before they are diagnosed with cancer. Get rid of the problem.

The gene is rare, but Geneticists test women for it when:

  • they have lots of breast cancer in their family
  • they get diagnosed very young
  • they get more than one form of cancer in short order.

My mom's mom and aunt both got breast cancer in their 60's, which wasn't in and of itself a huge risk factor. But she has had lung, uterine and now breast cancer all in the span of about two years. So her oncologist strongly recommended that she have a genetics test. My mom couldn't care less about this, she figures she's 65 years old, what does she care? Get a lumpectomy and drive back up to Lake of the Woods County, where there isn't even one stoplight. But the five of us girls are like, "um, excuse me? We'd sort of like to know..." since if she has it, we have a 50% chance of having it. But it's a blood draw and takes three weeks to find out the answer. And she can't have her surgery scheduled until she gets the results. So, she relented and got the test, but now she's irritated about the wait and just wants to cut her cancer out of her body YESTERDAY.

To be honest, the prospect of being tested positive for the BRCA gene would not necessarily be a bad thing for me. Yes, I'd probably have to get a double mastectomy and that would royally suck, but I'm mostly interested in the idea of having the same gene as my best friend Angelina Jolie. How glamorous! We already have so much in common!

Here I am, frantically working away on the veil just before her ceremony.

*All kidding aside, Mrs. Jolie has done a lot to raise awareness about BRCA. In fact at the oncologist's office they referred to BRCA as the "Angelina Jolie" gene, which goes to show you the positive impact her letter to the NY Times has had.


Anonymous said...

Roxie said..

If your mom does have the gene, does it mean all of you 5 girls definitely have it or does it mean still a possibility and would each have to be tested to confirm?

A Lady Reveals Nothing said...

We would each have a 50/50 chance. But once she's confirmed it would be an easy test for us.

Kerry said...

Fingers crossed that she doesn't have the gene & you can rest easier. Best wishes to your mom; she's a tough one.

A Lady Reveals Nothing said...

Thanks Kerry -- I'll be very very very surprised if she has it.

She is a tough one, that's for sure. People are asking her what they can do to help, and she says, "gosh, I don't know, I guess I just need one boob."

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