Cancer and I have had some time to get to know one another since September. I'm starting to get used to the bone-deep exhaustion and the other little "quirks" of chemo therapy, too, although I still get annoyed and irritated when I can't go about my day as I am used to. I understand that sometimes I won't have the energy to even turn my computer on, let alone form the sentences needed for a blog post, but that doesn't mean that I have to like it.
When I visited my plastic surgeon for our initial visit, he indicated that it would be in my best interest to have my other breast removed as well. At the time I wasn't really all that interested in having ANY sort of surgery, ever again. Having a drain tube sticking out of your chest for a month tends to color your opinion of such events. I decided that I would put off all decision making on surgery and whatever until after I had completed chemo and radiation, which would be about six months. Worry about what is in front of you, not something that hasn't happened yet, my brain told me.
And then one of my cousins contacted me via Facebook. My dad's side of the family is all over the Book of Face, and cousins that I didn't even know I had are flocking there in record numbers. My cousin Marie is a few years older than me; her father was my dad's oldest brother. We met at a few family reunions when we were kids.
Marie mentioned in her Facebook message that she had had a lump removed a few years ago, and that she had had some DNA testing. That testing revealed that she was carrying the banal-sounding yet evil gene BRCA, the result of a mutation on her father's side of the family. The presence of the gene practically guarantees that a person will get
breast cancer. It becomes not a question of if, but when. This particular gene was the one cited by Angelina Jolie as the reason for her decision to have a double mastectomy. Angelina Jolie and I have something in common. I would have been happy with an autographed photo.
My exact response to the news was, "Wha?" I'd specifically asked my dad, and my mother, about various health issues that ran in the family. Such information is important to me. My mom's side of the family tend to perish from tractors falling on them, which is thankfully not genetic. On the other hand, my dad's side of the family is full of fun events, like strokes, heart attacks, pre eclampsia, etc. There's even some lupus in there. Not a word about breast cancer!
So I probably have the stupid gene. I'm having the DNA test to be sure, since this is something my son definitely needs to know. But I'll be getting two new breasts instead of just the one. Then I can just not worry about it at all.
My plastic surgeon will be happy.