Have you considered getting the breast cancer tests? I am not talking about mammograms. You know the tests I’m talking about – BRCA1 and BRCA2. Those are some pretty scary letters. When you think of the testing that those letters involve, do you think “yes I want to know what percentage I have to be diagnosed with breast cancer”? Or do you run?
I ran, and fast! You know my story right? My mom and one of my paternal Aunts passed away from breast cancer. I have 2 paternal cousins who battled breast cancer (they are still alive and doing well). So do I really need a test to tell me what my percentage of getting breast cancer is? Dude – no!
I know my chances of being diagnosed with breast cancer are higher than normal which, to me, meant I did not need to have some test with scary letters tell me this news. There are many people that DO need to know their chances. For example, Angelina Jolie had a double mastectomy because she tested positive for BRCA1.
When my younger sister was little she was diagnosed with leukemia which she beat. She has been in remission from that for a long time. Several years ago she developed guillain-barré syndrome and overcame that like a champ. So she was probably thinking “what the hell is next?”. She talked with her doctor about getting tested for her risk of breast and ovarian cancer.
Our older sister was tested a few years earlier and tested negative. Whew! Well, at least one of us was sort of safe, right? Unfortunately my younger sister tested positive for BRCA2 which means she has a condition called Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer syndrome, or HBOC.
She was already at risk for breast cancer but now the risk for breast and ovarian cancer have increased. That’s some scary stuff! This is the scary stuff people need to know to make informed decisions about their health and their entire lives. It took me many years to decide to get tested. YEARS. I run a charity that raises funds for breast cancer patients in financial need so I frequently get the lecture about how I should get tested due to my family history. I ignored every single suggestion because I wasn’t ready.
When I was finally ready I found out I tested negative. Honestly I felt completely relieved that my high chances of being diagnosed weren’t getting higher but remained the same high chance as they were before the testing was done. I waited for my test results to get back while my sister started making plans to have a hysterectomy, a double mastectomy and reconstruction. This was her life changing decision. Like Angelina Jolie, my sister made a decision to do what she could do to prevent breast cancer, as well as ovarian cancer.
Genetic testing to find out what your chances of being diagnosed with cancer is important. Talk with your doctor about this and make sure they listen, know your medical history as well as your family’s medical history. This test could change your life. It changed mine, and both of my sisters, lives.