Thursday, June 16, 2011

Unknown Mutant

Today I saw the Angel Joy and found out that I'm BRCA-.  BRCA is the breast cancer gene that means there is a certain mutation that makes you very susceptible to breast and ovarian cancers.  I do not have this gene mutation. But, never fear, I'm sure I'm still a mutant in other ways.

Joy actually called yesterday to tell me this news so I would know before the meeting this morning.  I had really mixed feelings about it.  She said a lot of people have the same reaction!  Going through it now, I totally understand.  See, on one hand, I'm so so glad that my children don't have the gene (or at least it's very unlikely unless they got it from my husband which would be doubtful since there's no history there either).  On the other hand, it'd just be nice to have an answer.  To be done with it and say, "Yes, Laura, you ARE a mutant and this is what kind..."  However, if I had been positive, it really wouldn't have explained the renal cancer and rare thyroid tumor.

So, what is going on?  I don't know.  But, now I'll get to schedule with a geneticist.  I'm really excited about this!  I find the whole thing pretty fascinating.  They'll really be delving into my history: medical and family.  It's hard because I don't know much about my dad's side.  My dad died nearly 13 years ago.  He was the youngest of 6 and then had me when he was in his forties.  So, all of my first cousins are in their 60's and 70's and have kids even older than me!  I was closer in age to my second cousins and even all but one of them were older than me.  So, growing up, even though I had all my aunts and uncles, all of my 1st cousins were grown too and had kids.  Now all of my aunts and uncles (the brothers and sisters of my dad) are deceased.  My Mom is easy (you can tell her I said that) because she's an only child.  But, trying to unravel the rest of the history might be a little daunting.  I was told to bring my Mom with me because she might remember more.

Since I don't have the BRCA gene, there are a few "syndromes" that are genetic that I may have.  I don't think they would be pursuing this so fervently had I not just had renal cancer.  And the fact that I had two cancers in one kidney and now two in one breast...very odd indeed.  However, there could also be some environmental reason...low Vitamin D?  Low iron?  It's a lot of speculation at this point.

So, this means that I might be able to keep the inner lady parts.  I have a very low risk of getting ovarian cancer - though I remember that the oncologist seemed to think that since my breast cancer is fueled by estrogen, it still might be advisable to have a hysterectomy.

So, again, I feel confused about the lumpectomy vs. mastectomy but I think I'm just kidding myself.  I think I'm just *wishing* things could be different - wishing I only had one lump and could have a lumpectomy.  Having the BRCA gene be positive would have been a slam dunk for the mastectomy and there would be no questions.  Having it be negative puts a little doubt in my mind.  But, I still think it's the best choice and when I asked the Angel Joy what she thought about my decision - she also pointed out that I have young children, I'm young - I should do what gives me the best chance at a long life.

So, here I sit - I still have no answers.  I may never know.  Could all of this cancer just be a fluke?  My hunch says no.

I AM a mutant, darn it, I AM!

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