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Genetic Testing for BRCA1 and BRCA2: It’s My Choice

genesI totally plagarized that title from the National Cancer Institute, but I figure if Bernie Madoff’s not in jail a little artistic license of the web ought to be fine. No?

BRCA1 and BRCA2 are genetic markers for heightened risk of breast and ovarian cancers. Many women just like me have these markers. Women who have these mutations are much more likely to have breast and/or ovarian cancer at an early age (pre-menopause).

Here’s the best factsheet I’ve seen thus far (for the non-scientist).

A few days ago, I asked y’all if you’d have the test. The answers ranged from glib to heart wrenching, and the emails were touching. You are an amazing group of women. Thank you for trusting me with your secrets and with your fears.

I’m having the test. My insurance company is undecided about covering the costs of the test. It’s a simple blood draw, but the lab fees are expensive. Even if insurance doesn’t cover it, I know that it’s money well spent. I’ve spent a good deal of time thinking the testing through, the pros and the cons.

I didn’t have the BRCA test last year because I wouldn’t have done anything with the information except worry. Much like Nancy I didn’t have the sense that the information would change my life. Information without action doesn’t have immense value for me.

I am a 38 year old woman with two children and a wonderful marriage. Menopause isn’t around the corner for me, but my childbearing years are over. The children are perfect, and they are growing quickly. Robert and I are left with more moments together, and they’re joyful. I’m looking forward to a long life with him. I’d like our life together to be free of illness.

I am the mother of two children. I am duty bound to them. It is my obligation to care for them, to nuture them, and to nurture my marriage so they can live in a home with a childhood as carefree as possible. I am obligated to care for myself so that my daughter knows what joy adulthood can bring. For my son I need to show him what he can expect from a wife. In order to do all of this, I’ve got to be healthy.

It’s not just my life anymore. I am just that lucky.

If the BRCA tests were to come back positive, I’m almost certain I’d have a double mastectomy and whatever else the doctors recommend. I’ve had my babies and these breasts have fed them. I can’t imagine letting them kill me and forever alter all these lives.

I’ve decided that BRCA testing, for me ,and at this moment, amounts to being a good wife and mother.

8 thoughts on “Genetic Testing for BRCA1 and BRCA2: It’s My Choice”

  1. I’m not really sure what was so heartbreaking about my comment but in any case, my stepmother also had a pre-emptive double mastectomy. She finally got to have the cute, perky, little breasts that she wanted :) I, on the other hand, should probably write a post offering my counterview but I don’t feel like dealing with hate mail right now, so I’ll pass!

  2. HI there! I have not been tested, and don’t have anyone in my family tree who has, but at 38, I guess getting tested wouldn’t hurt anything!
    I am also hoping you will help spread the news about my give away. I’ve never done one, and I honestly don’t get much traffic at my blog, but it’s National Soup Month of all things. I’m giving away a really cute apron, it reminds me of something Beaver Cleaver’s mom wore, and I could really use some new readers, things at the blog have been pretty bland.
    Come on over to my blog and enter my apron contest! And any help getting the word out would be greatly appreciated! Have a great day!

  3. Have you thought about doing 23andMe? You’d need to check first to be sure that they check for the specific thing you’d like to know about — but you’d get a relatively thorough screening, and then access to a community of women (and men) with your same test results. It’s about $400. Full Disclosure: I just started working on a project for 23andMe — but I’m not shilling…just think it would be a good fit for you. I’m awaiting my results right now.

  4. Good for you for making this decision, and best of luck. I had my blood drawn a few weeks ago and due to scheduling craziness will have to wait until early next month for my results. I’m prepared to take some pretty radical next steps (uh….I think), but the in-between time is unpleasant to say the least.

  5. I had the test. My sis is BRCA 1. So glad I did it. It was so stressful to see her go through B.C. and just watch. I thought, how did she get the gene and not me. I felt helpless. She is a brave and amazing woman. My insurance covered the test because she was a carrier…

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