Today I went to my initial cancer genetic screening appointment dealie, where they told me all about what crappy things I have to do if I have this gene, and then drew some blood. In 5 weeks I have a follow-up appointment to find out the results of my blood test. The next day I'm going to a Radiohead concert, so hopefully I'll be able to celebrate not having a highly increased chance of cancer. Or trying to forget about my highly increased chance of cancer for the whole concert.
For those who don't remember, the way this all went down is this: My aunt has breast cancer, and since her mom (my grandmother) had cancer as well (breast AND ovarian, the latter of which eventually killed her), she got tested for this genetic mutation that is common to ashkenazi jews. And it turned out she had it. My dad got tested, and it turns out he has it too. The mutation is a BRCA1 mutation. Since my dad has it, I have about a 50% chance of having it. So today I went to start getting tested. Also I am getting tested for 2 other mutations (one other BRCA1, and one BRCA2) cause even though my dad doesn't have those mutations, my mom is an ashkenazi jew, which means I might have inherited something unpleasant from her as well!
Basically this is what I found out in my appointment with a genetic counselor:
I have a 50% chance of having this mutation. This mutation interferes with one's body's ability to repair damaged cells, and stop cancer growths.
If I have it:
I have a 60-80% chance of getting breast cancer (compared to 13% for the average woman)
I have a 30-45% chance of getting ovarian cancer (compared to 1-2%)
I have a 10-15% chance of getting colon cancer (compared to 5-6%)
I have a 2-3% chance of getting pancreatic cancer (compared to 1%)
and my chances of uterine and cervical cancer are slightly increased.
But with melanoma I"d be ok. yay.
If I do have this mutation, the general course of action is preventative screenings. Which means that I would have to get a mammogram AND a breast MRI every year, starting immediately. For the rest of my life.
Also, if I do have it, a recommended course of action is to have your ovaries removed after you are done having kids. Apparently if you do that before menopause, that also reduces your chance of getting breast cancer by like 50%.
So in 5 weeks I find out if I have to get a mammogram and MRI every year for the rest of my life, and also if I have to get my ovaries removed in like 15 years.
I managed to keep my composure for the entire appointment, only to pick a stupid fight with B the second I got in the car, and crying the whole way home. We made up later though. Meanwhile, I've been obsessing about how inconvenient it's going to be to take out all my piercings for MRIs that I have a 50% chance of needing every year until I die. Also about how I have a 50% chance of probably getting cancer.
This is what 3000 years of jewish inbreeding will give you :(