It's a sick joke, but I always tell Rob to start keeping his eye for another wife when I turn 50-years-old. Around that time, he'll have the chance to pick up a shiny new bride thanks to my family history with cancer. I don't think any of my grandparents saw the age of 60. In fact, when I was born, they were already dead, mostly from cancer. My mom even died of breast cancer in her early 50's. Last week I decided to do something about my morbid joke: I took the BRCA gene mutation test. While it won't tell me my chance of getting all cancers, it will give me a better sense of my chance of being diagnosed with breast and ovarian cancer.
Remember when Angelina Jolie's article came out in the NYTimes earlier this year? She wrote about how a positive test result for the BRCA1 gene mutation led to her to take drastic measures to avoid the 87% chance she had of developing breast cancer. I was extremely judgmental of her article. I hated how it felt like everyone was congratulating her for being so brave. With my family history, I always assumed I had the BCRA gene mutation but didn't have the means to do what she did. When my friend Sarah shared the article on Facebook, my reply lacked understanding. Knowing what I do now, I wish I could take the comment back. But it was my gut reaction. Here's a screenshot of my mortifying response:
Sadly, I don't think I was the only one writing critical things about the article. I cringe when I think about it now.
So when I was at the doctor's office last Friday for a regular check-up, and she asked if I ever thought about taking the BRCA gene mutation test, I replied much like I did to the article, "Sure, I've thought about it. But why? I assume I have it. What could I possible do with that information? It's so expensive anyway. I could never afford the test or the measures I'd need to take to avoid cancer."
She responded, "Well, for one, you could find out you don't have the mutation and have peace of mind. That would be nice. And if you're positive, you'd be monitored closer, get more mammograms each year and be assigned a breast specialist. And plus, with your history, I'm pretty sure your insurance will cover most, if not all, of it."
I thought for a minute and realized I was curious to find out. I always was. I told her I'm interested as long as my insurance will cover it. She assured me if it didn't, then I would be notified and decide what to do from there. I decided to go for it.
"Ok," she said, "I'll go get it."
Wait, I thought. Go get it, now? Like the test kit is your office? It's this simple? Minutes later the nurse was drawing blood and shipping it to a lab in Salt Lake City. I find out the results in a few weeks.
I wish the results didn't take so long. I wish I would have taken this test sooner. At the time the article came out last May, I had the exact same insurance I have now. The exact same family history. I could have gotten it then and had the results months ago. But now I'm stuck waiting around for the results. I call the lab everyday to find out the status of my test. Everyone on the phone is so kind and encourage me to call anytime. Currently, I'm waiting for my doctor to submit a required form. As soon as she does, the lab will proceed with my order.
I'm trying to keep my mind off of it and hope everything will turn out fine. It probably will be. I hate this waiting place though. It's such a useless place. I can't wait to escape. There's fun to be done!