Back so soon!
Last month I went to see a genetics counselor as recommended by my surgeon. The first meeting was a consultation to discuss my family's history of cancer. That appointment happened to be on a Monday morning following a Thursday chemo treatment (#2 in early July). Kim was here to help with Annabel and shuttle me around since I was still on drugs. So, yeah, I went to my consultation on drugs. Oops. Also, I was the very first appointment for my genetics counselor following maternity leave. I was distracted by that because I remember how hard it was for me to go back to work and leave Annabel at daycare for the first time. I had a lot of questions of my own, but I had to bite my tongue and do the genetics thing. And Bridget was great. She walked me through the whole family history as I have gathered it and then explained that she would send a letter with her findings, but that she would recommend that I go ahead with the test to see if I have a mutated gene that may have caused my cancer. We scheduled that appointment for July 21st. In the meantime, I had to do a little research to make sure that my insurance would cover the $3700 test. They do, so I went to the next appointment to give blood and sign some papers. Bridget told me at this appointment that there are 3 or 4 outcomes of the test (can't remember): either I would have the mutated gene BRCA1 or BRCA2, or I would not have a mutated gene or my test would come back saying that I had a mutated gene, just not one that is identifiable (in which case, the lab keeps the info on file in case they find a common mutation at a later time). She also explained that there was a pretty small chance that I would come up positive for BRCA1 or 2....I'm not sure whether she said 11% or 14%. My response: I would not be surprised. I wasn't supposed to get breast cancer either. We also discussed what would happen when she got the results of the test and decided that she should call me and we could talk about it over the phone. Sooooooo.....today as Karen and Annabel and I were walking out the door, Bridget called me with the results of my test. And guess what? I tested positive for the BRCA1 gene. And guess why? Because of my Jewish heritage! Yes, people, I am one of the Chosen Ones and I have the gene mutation to prove it. Mazel tov! My Grandpa on my Mom's side (Schwartz) was Jewish and I knew that he was Slavic way back, but apparently that lends to my Ashkenazi Jewish background and thus my mutated gene. Ashkenazi Jews are apparently from Eastern Europe and apparently most Jews are Ashkenazi Jews. I am learning, so bear with me. My Jewish heritage has never been much more than a source of amusement for Scott. Now it is the cause of my disease. Thanks Mom!
So, what does it mean? I think it is a good thing (so far). I already have cancer, so I think it would have been really frustrating to have an inconclusive result. Now my doctors and I have more information about why and hopefully have better insight about my treatment in the short term and in the long term. I hope that it will help my other family members. If they are tested and test positive, then they are on the radar and will be able to get extra special screenings to catch anything that might come along. For example, the best way to detect breast cancer the earliest is by breast MRI and that is not standard procedure. It is expensive and from what I hear, hard to justify to insurance. Now, maybe Kim and my Mom can get breast MRIs instead of a run of the mill mammogram. It has some implications for men as well, but I really don't know much yet. I will be making another appointment to meet with Bridget to learn more. I am scheduling that for a time when Kim can be here to go with me and get the benefit of the next consultation. In the meantime, I asked Bridget to let my medical team know so that I can talk to my oncologist about it at my next treatment.
In other news, Karen's iPhone got wet a few days ago and she has been carrying her phone around in a gallon sized ziploc bag full of white rice. It is hilarious. Apparently the rice is absorbing the moisture. It's working! You learn something new every day, right? Second picture above is of me and my non-Jewish sister Karen, post diagnosis, pre chemo. (Same Dad, different Moms. I do not have a family tree prepared, but if you'd like the history, let me know and we'll schedule some time.)
My Dad came to visit one Saturday in mid-June to get Annabel a playset. We spent some time at Lowe's and picked out a really nice one. The installation guy came out and said that we would have to get the yard leveled before they would install, but the installation guy doesn't do grading. I have assed around over this for how long now? Anyway, I finally found someone to come out and level out the space for the play area. He is also going to put the playset together and it's FINALLY all in the works! It should be ready to go by Saturday. I am excited about it. Our trips to the park are fewer since cancer came along and it is so freaking HOT here. It will be nice to have this great play area right in our backyard. The first picture above is the progress so far.