Sunday, August 10, 2008

Cancer Cancer Cancer Cancer

Tomorrow morning I find out about whether or not I have that genetic mutation that will pretty much assure I get cancer of some kind. Ok, not 100%, but with a 80% chance of breast cancer and a 45% chance of ovarian cancer (and an elevated chance of colon and pancreatic cancer), I'd probably get one of them. In case you're new here- my dad has this genetic mutation (BRCA1 mutation) and I have a 50% chance of having it too. I got tested about 6 weeks ago and find out the results tomorrow.

Meanwhile I have a moral dilemma. See, when I got tested, my dad (who insisted I get tested) told me he would pay for the gentic testing, which costs around $550 total. He immediately paid the $150 I had to pay a genetic counselor, and I put the rest on my health insurance.

Two days ago I got a notification from my health insurance saying that I would be responsible for up to $285 of the cost of the testing.

Now, on the one hand...My dad told me he would pay for this testing, and I underwent the testing under the assumption that he would pay for it.

On the other hand, My dad told me he would pay for this testing when I got the test, but between then and now (when I find out the results) I also got engaged. I haven't talked to my dad since I sent him that email about coming to my wedding. Or my mom. And I kinda would like to keep it that way. I've decided at this point that if they want a relationship with me, the ball is in their court re: contacting me. And they haven't.

On the other hand, since my dad paid that initial $150, arn't I ethically responsible to report to him the results of my genetic testing? I can just ask him for money when telling him the results.

On the other hand, my health is my own business, not his, I hate asking my dad for money (that $150 was the first time I asked for money since I left for graduate school almost four years ago), and I don't want to ask him for more money.

On the other hand, $285 is a LOT of money, especially when I don't have income this summer. That's like half my share of the rent. And if I have the genetic mutation, there's a whole bunch of co-pay's in my future for a yearly Breast MRI and yearly Mammogram. And inevitably ovary-removal surgery. And you know...treating cancer when I get it and stuff.

On the other hand, I spent almost that much money last weekend at the ASAs, and isn't my health more important than my career? I can afford it, but it would be money I could have spent on my wedding, on put in my savings to buy a house, or on mental-health related vacations. Or on stuff like rent and food. Since I"m pretty much living off of savings until the end of September.

So it seems I have arrived at this compromise in my head. If I don't have the genetic mutation, I will happily eat the cost of testing, and maybe send my dad a text message saying I don't have it. If I do have the genetic mutation, I will suck up my pride and ask for the money, cause it's going to be a long expensive journey afterwards. But maybe still text message him, cause I'm not quite at the point where I want to talk to him on the phone.

Although it's always possible I will change my mind when it comes to actually text messaging him, and decide $285 is worth it not to contact him.



  1. Ask him to pay for it. He'd probably want you to ask him. It just got charged to you because you put it on your insurance.

    Don't bring up B at all in this convo. Just say, Hey dad, I got the bill, it's $285, do you want me to pay for it or are you going to cover it?

    My advice, Eden, is to use every excuse you can to contact your dad. Especially excuses that have nothing to do with the wedding. Call that bluff. People are tough in e-mails. But they're softer on the phone, and even softer in person. You don't have to talk about everything with him. Just keep in touch, post pics, etc. Let his heart do the rest.

  2. It sounds like you are using the negative results of the test as leverage for your request for money. It almost sounds like you're playing the "pity" card. But maybe that's what you're going for.

    The pain your dad might feel for passing on this genetic mutation to you might actually be greater than the pain of "losing" his daughter to a non-jewish man, so there might be something to that.

  3. well the test wasn't negative. Or rather it was negative- as in I don't have the mutation. I think i'm just going to pay for it.

  4. >On the other hand, my health is my own business, not his.

    Perhaps one day when you choose to have kids, you will see how wrong a statement like that is.

  5. I'm so glad you don't have the genetic mutation!


Anonymous comments are enabled for now