Tuesday, February 28, 2012
Saturday, February 25, 2012
Wednesday, February 22, 2012
Like I’ve posted before I am very active so I do not feel a need to increase my activity level. I am still working on my weight. I’m losing it very slowly this time (post pregnancy), which is ok.
If anyone reading this has any suggestions, please share and post a comment. At this point, I feel like the best plan is to provide myself and my family with a healthy lifestyle. That in itself has many benefits besides the reduction of our risks to cancer.
Sunday, February 19, 2012
Wednesday, February 15, 2012
So, I get loaded into the machine, which means I laid on my stomach face down and I had to have my hands over my head and an IV hooked up. It wasn't actually uncomfortable except my arm kept falling asleep. Well, all was going well until the tickle in my throat came on. You know that little dry tickle that makes you continuously cough and cough. Well, it happened today. I knew I wasn't supposed to move and though I could conveniently see the timer ticking backwards until it was over (I had series of pictures done and each one had a certain amount of time displayed on the timer) I could not, I meant could NOT hold in my coughs. It was sooo annoying. I had to repeat two images (which added even more time in that stupid machine!). One of them, which was super important because it could not be repeated as I was injected contrast dye into an IV, was 6 minutes long. That was the longest six minutes of my life! You know when you are trying not to cough and thinking about not coughing the only thing you really want to do is...cough! Anyway, I had the nicest MRI tech helping me who was super sweet and got me a cough drop and let me cough in between sets of images.
She told me on the way out I would most likely need a mammogram also, NOT because she saw something on the MRI (I hope!) but because it is standard for the radiologist there to request both to compare the results. Ugh. So, here we go again. I've left a message with my Dr. to ask about that and to find out the timeline for which I'll know. The tech said a couple days which I can handle.
I've said it before, but I'll say it again. The most logical results would be I am clear. I am healthy, active, and young. It isn't worth it to assume I'll have cancer when all other signs point to the fact that I don't. Until we know otherwise, lets just go with that.
Wednesday, February 8, 2012
I know I have to make changes and I am slowly gearing up for that. I am not going to go cold turkey, because I think that would be hard. I don't mean to sound like I eat a horrible diet, because I certainly do not. My issue is I eat a healthy diet but I still love to eat some not so healthy things. They are my temptations that I mostly avoid, but are still there. My least favorite thing to give up will be....dun dun dun.....soda. You all know how much I love me some Dr. Pepper. Recently, due to weight loss efforts, I swithed to diet soda (which I don't like as much but it'll do) and now I know that I need to stop that as well. Who knows what the risks of aspartame are and how they affect people like me. I guess it is a small price to pay for some peace of mind.
My major focus right now is just to lose weight, for a lot of reasons. Once I get back to my healthy pre-pregnancy weight, I think I'll be ready to ditch the diet soda and regular soda for good. Though, I am sure I'll indulge from time to time. Moderation is key in any lifestyle choices we make. The one area that I don't have to change or worry about is my activity level. I do enjoy to exercise and keep in shape and that in itself reduces my risk for cancer. At least I can mark one thing off the list. Next up, a healthy weight and an even healthier diet. I can do it.
Saturday, February 4, 2012
So here are the stats:
87% chance of breast cancer
44% chance of ovarian cancer
7% chance of pancreatic cancer
If I am pretty drastic with my preventative measures, meaning surgically drastic, then my risk of of breast cancer goes down to 10% (same as the general population). I found out good news about my type of gene and ovarian cancer, also. It seems most of the cases of ovarian cancer that show up in BRCA 2 carriers are in women in their 40s and 50s...not 30s. So, the pressure to remove them is not high at this moment. When I do remove them my risk of breast cancer also improves to 6% (from 10%). The counselor actually advised against removing the ovaries for someone my age with two small children. Surgical menopause is not something I want to experience right now without a good reason. Obviously, the risk of pancreatic cancer isn't as high but it is drastically higher than the regulation population at 1%. Dan asked how we can be vigilant about my screenings for that and the response was that at this point they are doing research on how to "screen" for pancreatic cancer. Right now, the reason it is so deadly is because once you have symptoms the cancer is too far advanced and it is too late for treatment. Lets hope that the advances in pancreatic cancer screenings improve soon, for everyone's sake.
Dan and I had a lot of questions, we spent an hour and a half with the counselor and got a lot of answers. Though I could tell Dan's anxiety level was higher than mine, I think he also felt better after speaking with counselor. I did not get confirmation that diet can affect my risks. At this time there is not scientific proof that the two are linked, though obesity is a risk factor and we know that diet and obesity go hand in hand. So, Dan and I decided to be even more extra careful about what eat in this house. It will take some time to completely rid our house of some the "not so healthy" choices we make, but we have a good reason to follow through. As far as the kids goes, their chance for having the gene is 50% but there is no screening for them now. We need to go on about our life and making healthy choices for them with their diet and exercise level. Once they are mature enough to handle this process then we can let them know of their increased risks and talk about genetic testing. If Sean is positive, he would have a 20% chance of prostate cancer so obviously this gene is more harmful in girls. Ahh....my sweet Carter. I cannot see her go through this so lets all just hope that by the time she is my age, that breast cancer will be obsolete and they'll find a cure. As much research and money that is being poured into this disease, you would think in 20 years we would be able to put a stop to it.
I mentioned that I felt like a double mastectomy and reconstruction was the best most obvious choice for me, I think after having the appointment and hearing the statistics, I am 100% sure that is what I need to do. I need to be screened more often than the general population, which means every 6 months I have to have a mammogram and an internal ultra sound to monitor my ovaries, etc. I cannot sit by the phone every 6 months and wait, and wait, and wait for the bad news to come. That is no way to live. If I have the surgery I'll never even need another mammogram. I'll still have to have the ultra sounds for my ovaries but my risk for ovarian cancer is not that high, right now. I just feel like this is the best option for me. I know it seems drastic but I have done a lot of research lately about a double mastectomy and reconstruction so I do understand what I am getting in to. I know it will be hard, I know I won't be able to take care of my kids for a decent amount of time and there will a lot pain to go along with it. I asked the counselor point blank, given the drastic reduction in risk, it seems so simple...a double mastectomy is the only answer. She agreed.
Dan and I were able to get away and have a "date" night last night which was good timing.(thanks to a great friend who knew we needed some time) Though our conversations were that of the typical "date" night it was good to figure some things out. There is not really a great time to have something so drastic done to your body...so figuring out the timeline is difficult for us. I know I will need help with the kids so the summer seems logical...but then we have family vacations and all sorts of summer fun that would be dampened by that. So, in my opinion summer is not an option. I want to enjoy my time as a stay at home mom and do all the wonderful things that we are able to do. Fall is the top of my list but it isn't easy for Dan to take off a lot of time from school. We have two weeks off at Christmas but again, that would make it hard for me to enjoy my family time with the kids. I guess after I meet with the surgeon we will need to make a decision about the timeline of this surgery.
After speaking with some who've experienced the exact surgery it seems that the first few days are tough and he'd need to be very actively involved in my medical care. To spare your stomachs, I won't get too detailed but I asked him if he was ready for that? Will he be able handle seeing me like that? In pain, in a hospital? At least I have some time to help prepare him for that. Not sure any husband is really "ready" for something like this.
So, now the next step is my MRI screening in a few weeks, a consult with an oncologist (who usually sits in on the genetic counseling appointment) and a consult with the surgeon of my choice. The Dr. I already have has a great reputation for this type of surgery and so I'll plan to meet with him in the next few weeks. I have a lot of medical questions that I need answered. I know there will be some emotional stuff that goes along with changing my body in such a way but I feel like because it is MY choice, it will be easier (at least I hope so!). It isn't being forced on me, like those with cancer, like my mom, it is MY choice and I know what I am getting into and I know the payoffs make it well worth it.
Thursday, February 2, 2012
Wednesday, February 1, 2012
During the past few days I've had many conversations about what is going on and I get the same reaction from most, you seem so calm, and so together and so strong. I guess I am not sure what kind of reaction I am supposed to have? Should I cry all day? Stay up all night worrying? Skip meals because of the stress? (oh boy that would be nice for the diet!) I don't know? I am reacting in the best way I know how...being rational and calm. I just don't worry about things and so this is no different. Like I said, I am healthy, I exercise more than most, am not overweight (though I do have a few lbs to lose) so why should I assume the worst? Why should I worry that I have cancer right now? I don't know, I am confused. Am I not worrying enough? Am I in denial? Am I being careless with such a huge life altering decision? I guess you'll never know how you react to news like this until you get it. Knowing the fate of your future is a odd information to have. We aren't supposed to know our fate...right? Like in the Back to the Future movies, (LOVE those movies) if we know too much about our future it can change the path we are on, or even interrupt the "space-time continuum", ha ha. Is this any different? How much different will my life now be knowing this information? Will it be for the better? Or worse?
What about my sister? Should she find out? In my mind knew it was better for me to be the carrier if it had to be one of us, though I know her chance of getting it is the same as mine. I am in a different place in my life and I am not sure knowing this in your 20s, unmarried and without children is the best plan. But if it were me, I don't know what I'd do.
I am glad my reactions to this are surprising to people and it makes them assume I am so strong. But what if I am not? What if I just keep telling myself I am not scared to mask the truth? What if deep down I am terrified? I just don't know. Maybe after the news settles in a little I'll be more in tune with my feelings. I just know bottling them up and not talking about them isn't helpful which is why I know this blog will help.