interesting documentary... statistics are a bit dated but all the facts still ring true.
Saturday, June 11, 2011
Good news first or bad news? Let's do bad and get it over with...
Bad news: I tested positive for the same BRCA2 gene that my mom has.
Good news: I took my PRAXIS II (teaching content exam that is pretty hard to pass) the day after I found out and passed with flying colors! You win some, you lose some!
Anyway, I've had plenty of time to process this information. At first I was upset, for sure, but I've accepted it and moved on. I actually feel lucky that I have this information and can be proactive with my health. I've completely given up dairy and begun research on other, more holistic and natural, prevention methods. I'm bound and determined to NOT get breast cancer.
I'll post every now and again, but right now I'm planning to go on with my life as I wish and without restriction. I'm currently in Anchorage, AK and loving every minute. Alaska is a beautiful place that I hope to call home for many years--can't wait for Brendan to join me in a couple of weeks! Breast cancer is not something I will let define me, and I feel lucky to be privileged to the knowledge that I have been given. Que sera, sera!
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
The past couple of months have been a whirlwind of teaching, working, going back to school and figuring out life insurance. My fears about having the breast cancer gene were temporarily moved to the back burner as I got caught up in the life insurance application process. After having my application STOLEN, I had to make sure my identity wasn't stolen along with it. After lots of paperwork, an insurance nurse that took over a month to finally perform my physical...I have finally been approved for a life insurance policy! As happy as I am to be done with the almost 5 month process, it's time to have my genetic test done, and all of my fears are starting to come back.
My mom came for a visit back in July and we went to meet with a breast specialist at a hospital in Chesapeake. She was AWESOME. It's so comforting to know that there are people out there who are so passionate about finding a cure and helping women who are dealing with breast and ovarian cancer. She was so knowledgeable about everything we discussed and so easy to talk to. From her I learned that my risk is already pretty high, even with genetics aside. She made me feel so much better about the possibility of testing positive for the gene by letting me know what will happen if I do. If I do test positive, pretty much all that will happen right off the bat is I'll have to go in for testing and exams a couple of times a year to monitor my breast and ovarian health so that if anything bad develops, the doctors will find it as soon as possible. I'm sure I will rest easier knowing that there is someone else looking out for my health--someone who knows what to look for and how to help.
The one thing that she did say that scared me the most was that if I test positive for the gene, it is recommended that I have my ovaries removed by the age of 35. Considering the fact that I'm turning 25 in February, that's a pretty scary thought. I don't like the idea of putting a time limit on when I need to complete my family by. I don't, by any means, want to rush the period of time that I'm having children or feel forced to be finished having children, just because I turn 35. On the other hand, I'd rather have kids and be healthy than not have kids yet and end up not being able to have them.
Whatever happens, happens. If I don't have the gene, I may rest easier, but I'll still have to take precautions. If I do have the gene, I'll deal with it. Not knowing is the worst part, once I find out I can actually do something about it! I hope to have the test done in the next week, so I should find out the results within the next month!
Wednesday, July 7, 2010
So dairy and I have had this love/hate relationship for some time now. From a little kid refusing to drink milk, to a hormonal teenager eating Stewarts ice cream every night, dairy and I have been through it all in our 24 year long relationship.
In the past couple of months I've been researching what kinds of lifestyle changes I can make to lower my risk of developing breast cancer. In almost every article I read, I come across the suggestion to give up dairy products. I already don't eat meat, I've never been a fan of milk, and I already use soy milk as an alternative in my coffee. I've made the switch to soy yogurt and don't really have an issue with cutting back on dairy products...except for cheese. Mac 'n cheese, grilled cheese, pizza...I really don't know if I can live without it. I'm pretty sure if you put a plate of gnocchi al gorgonzola in front of me and told me I'd be doomed for life, you still wouldn't be able to find a single crumb left after about a minute and a half.
I don't believe that a healthy lifestyle is one where you deprive yourself. I've always followed the "everything in moderation" habit of eating. However, if cutting back on dairy will really stop my boobs from ganging up on me, then it's definitely worth a shot. Which is why I've come to the conclusion that I'll just cut back a lot, not give it up completely. Because I already know that I would fail miserably.
Besides, who wants to live a life devoid of pizza and grilled cheese and cheesecake? NOT me..
Monday, July 5, 2010
When I made my appointment to get my genetic testing done, one of my first questions was, is my insurance premium going to skyrocket if I test positive? My parents had offered to pay for the procedure out of pocket so that the insurance company never knows, but a) insurance companies are sketchy as it is and I don't want to screw myself over later by not telling them, and b) my doctor told me I'd own the insurance company if they tried to raise my monthly rates at all. (So hopefully they do, I could end up filthy rich out of this whole ordeal!)
We are in an uncertain place concerning health insurance right now. With all of the changes--however good or bad they may be, there's no way for me to know what the rules will be in a few months or a few years from now. While my insurance rates may not go up now, will I get denied insurance benefits at the next job I have? My insurance is expensive enough as it is, can I afford a jump in my monthly payment? I guess we'll have to wait and see--after all, I pay for health insurance every month so that if I ever do have an issue, I will be able to afford treatments. An increased monthly payment would be way better than having to go into serious debt someday to pay for cancer treatments.
One thing my doctor did suggest I do is to open a life insurance policy before I have the testing done. She said that life insurance is completely different, and unlike health insurance, I can be denied a policy if I test positive for the BRCA2 gene. This freaked me out. The poor guy I called was just trying to ask me questions about my lifestyle and what kind of policy I was interested in and I was nervous and rambling about how I'm young and don't even have kids yet for my life insurance policy to take care of! Before this I hadn't given a single thought to life insurance for two reasons. One is because I don't plan on dying anytime soon and the other is who will my policy take care of if I do? Sampson? I guess it would at least cover the cost of his obedience school. But seriously, hopefully the guy doesn't think I'm too crazy and calls me back with a good policy at an affordable price.
It's tough having to look ahead like this since I don't really know what I'm doing or know what to expect, but I'd rather be safe than sorry!
Wednesday, June 30, 2010
As the daughter of a 2-time Breast Cancer survivor, I have been extremely aware of the importance of a healthy lifestyle, self breast exams, early screenings, preventions and pretty much boobs in general since my early teens. While my elevated risk has been in the back of my mind for the past 11 years, it didn't become real until a couple of months ago when my mom tested positive for the genetic mutation of the BRCA2 gene, which makes you more prone to developing cancer of the breast, ovaries (and prostate if you're a guy.)
For me (and my 2 younger siblings) this means we each have a 50/50 chance of having the gene (assuming it isn't hidden somewhere in my dad's family...which would suck.) If I don't have the gene, my risk of developing cancer in my breasts or in my ovaries is still slightly elevated because of my family history. However if I do have the gene, my risk goes up quite a bit.
I'm not a big fan of numbers, statistics are impersonal and make you feel like you have no chance. As I've learned from my mom, every case of breast cancer is different, and statistics don't decide your fate. Trust me, I'm NOT sitting here convinced that I'll develop cancer someday, just because of some numbers. However, I am aware of the risk--which is why I'm trying to learn as much as I can about prevention, early detection and living the healthiest lifestyle I can to better my odds.
It took some time for me to decide if I even wanted to KNOW if I have the gene. It's not like finding out if your baby is going to be a girl or a boy. (Although I guess depending on your situation, possibly just as life-changing!) But after some time, I came to the conclusion that even testing positive for the gene isn't a death sentence, it's just information that will help me (and someday my kids) in the future.
With the decision to go ahead with the testing, I have a MILLION questions. Should I not be on the birth control pill? Should I think about prophylactic surgery and having all of my girl parts removed? Will breast-feeding still lower my risk if I do have the gene? Will my boyfriend break up with my if there was a chance of me not having boobs someday? (I already checked...he's not going to.) You get the idea...lots of questions, thoughts and fears--some ridiculous, some serious, but nonetheless constantly going through my mind.
I'd love feedback and advice...if you've got boobs or know someone who has them, you can relate :o)