I am wondering if anyone else out there has been tested for the BRCA gene?
At the time, I really didn’t understand what the BRCA gene was, but my doctor made the suggestion, my insurance covered it, so I thought, “what the heck”? I gave a simple blood sample. About a month later, I went to my follow up appointment. I met with my doctor and a genetic counselor. Much to my surprise, I was informed that I had in fact tested positive for the BRCA2 mutation. What did this mean?
BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes belong to a class of genes known as tumor suppressors. A mutation of these genes have been linked to hereditary breast and ovarian cancer. If a woman inherits a “deleterious” BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation, such as myself, her risk of developing breast and/or ovarian cancer is greatly increased. Men who test positive for the BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations may be at increased risk of breast cancer, as well as other cancers.
I was given a number of options to help manage my cancer risk. My options included surveillance, prophylactic surgery, chemoprevention, and risk avoidance.
Initially I chose surveillance and risk avoidance. Basically, every three months I rotated between vaginal ultrasounds, breast MRI’s, mammograms, clinical breast exams and blood work. Also, I was instructed to limit alcohol (I really do try my hardest), processed food and red meat. Daily cardio was also suggested. I have to be honest, after years of this madness, I was seriously considering the surgery. I didn’t mind the healthy diet, I enjoyed the exercise; but I was really nervous every time I had to go get one of the tests! I began to dread them. Not to mention the fact that I was getting close to the age of my mother when she had been diagnosed with ovarian cancer (she was 38).
After seven years of nothing, my doctors discovered I had a mass on my right ovary. I was given two options: ” keep an eye on it” or have a hysterectomy. I was 33, married, had a child… And saw pros and cons with either scenario. Whatever decision I made would affect not only me, but my husband and my son.