Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Angelina Jolie and I Have Something In Common

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. 


  1. Good choice! I never considered only having one removed, but even if I had, my little neighbor lady would have convinced me otherwise. (She told me this story when she was around 80.) She had breast cancer about 30 years earlier. She had a mastectomy and reconstruction. As she aged, one boob started pointing farther and farther south, the reconstructed one remained firm and perky. Let that visual wash over you....
    Opt for the tram flap. It's AWESOME (but you get 4 drains, just to warn you).

  2. Lol! I loved/was horrified by the visual, but it made me laugh!

  3. I have read about Angelina Jolie..
    I am glad you are doing the test ..
    Hugs to you ...

  4. One boob up, one boob sagging is not the conversation starter you want at the assisted living facility.
    I wish the best for you with the test. Life has no guarantees.

  5. Good choice. As long as you are at it, why not two? My one grandma just had the surgery and removed her one breast...didn't bother with the other. My other grandma got them both off. Neither of them got breasts to replace them. The down side of that blessed piece of information is that I am probably high risk since both of them had it and my mother died of multiple meloma. But what you gonna do?? Just roll with it I guess. Blessings to you! ♥

  6. I just had the one removed. Will probably go ahead and have the other one removed at some point. Really don't want other boobs if I don't have to. They just get in my way. Tested for the BRCA gene several years ago when I had better ins. Turns out I don't, but they said there were more extensive tests they could do, but I opted not to do them. Both my kids will need to be watchful, but there's more cancer in their dad's family than mine.

  7. Who knew the whole issue was such a minefield? My friend had a single mastectomy and got a 'chicken fillet' that she put in her bra. We couldn't tell the difference, but we only ever saw her dressed. Maybe that makes a difference :D

    1. Red, I am learning way more than I ever wanted to know!


I welcome comments, but reserve the right to correct your spelling because I am OCD about it!