Thursday, April 21, 2011

Monster Post: Old Genes/New Jeans

I have hinted here and there about some health issues that were astir last month. I debated whether to share them on the blog, but realized that I need to.   Looooong story short, after over a decade, a doctor finally shook her head over my family's remarkable susceptibility to cancers and had me tested for a gene. 

My mom, dad, both grandmoms, aunts, three great- aunts, and uncles all had cancer, many of them related cancers.  But the most crushing was my older sister's, because she was young.  She died of the rarest form of breast cancer when she was only a couple of years from the age I am now.

Nothing, nothing has ever impacted me more than my sister's death. Nothing. 

So when this incredulous doctor suggested I test for the breast cancer gene, I leaped at the chance.  I have felt since my sister's death that my breasts were going to kill me young too. The results took a month.

Though I was negative for the BRCA (BReast CAncer) genes, the doctor is still treating me as a high risk case.  Which means 3 MRIs  + 2 mammograms per year that would detect, not prevent, breast cancer; chemoprevention drugs that risk my fertility and would likely put me into early menopause (and still reduce my risk by only half); or-- a big "or"-- cutting both breasts off.

I've opted for the "or," as it provides the lowest risk for my ever getting breast cancer (down to 1 percent).

Please--I am not putting this up for sympathy, or readership, or anything like that!   In effect, I was so shocked that no doctor recommended this test for my family until now.  In my research, I learned that African- Americans are referred the least for genetic counseling.  We are also the group more likely to die from our diagnoses of breast cancer.  See why I am less interested in detection?  My parents live in constant terror of their cancers returning. I would rather prevent.

I study gaps in knowledge among groups, and realized the irony early on.  How could I not have known?  My parents are as educated as I. My sister was a nurse. We read the news, follow studies, and don't miss our check- ups. And no one thought that with 3/4 of the folks  in our clan dying from *related* cancers that oh, maybe- this- is- hereditary!  And what's could I be silent about something when silence has only hurt us?

It makes me want to go to fucking med school.

So my body is changing now, as I lose weight, but will be changing some more in the near future. I'll meet with a breast surgeon, a plastic surgeon, and select implants.  I am scheduled for my first  breast MRI next week, and I'd be lying if I said I weren't scared.  

In the meantime, I have a new reason to get into the best shape of my life.  

So while we're on the subject of's a preview of some jeans I can change:

Anyhow, I'm still me. Still working, collecting data, eating right and oh, yeah, that running thing
Still having fun with clothes, cooking for Lovebug, visiting friends, eating good food, and loving my life. 

My life. I have vowed to hold it dear, even if that means sacrificing my breasts.

Whew! That's a lot to get off of my chest, isn't it? Get it- off my chest? Oh, you know  ol' 13's sense of humor ain't goin' nowhere...and neither are the swear words. shirfuckdamshitfuck.


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