Thursday, February 2, 2012

Genetic Counseling

Today is the day of my genetic counseling appointment. The counselor will be the one to give me the, perhaps hard to hear, news which include my actual risks for breast/ovarian and other types of cancer. I've been good and stayed away from "googling" this information. I have been reading some of the websites that focus on "pre-vivors" which is what I guess I can call myself. It is a name for those who know their risks and take some steps to prevent cancer (some more drastic than others). I've found a few helpful websites, one being which stands for: Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered. It is was nice to read some stories from those who have been in my shoes and made some similar decisions. At this point, I've come to terms with the fact that a double mastectomy and reconstruction is in my near future. I know it might seem so drastic to some but I cannot live my life "waiting" for the bad news to come in. I've had a breast surgery before, seen my mom go through it, and have a pretty good idea of what to expect so it seems like a simple solution, though not a painless one. I have a 70% chance (if that number changes after my appointment I'll update) of getting breast and ovarian cancer. There are not a lot of ovarian cancer survivors. That is why one of my important questions for the counselor is when is the best time to have my ovaries removed? I would be put into a surgical menopause immediately and from seeing the effects of menopause on others I know that will not be a fun time for me. I also want to talk about what I can do to prevent cancer as far as my lifestyle changes. I want to know what foods I should avoid, or how I should change my diet. I know now, sadly, that my kids have a 50% chance of also carrying this gene. What can I do to keep them safe? When do you tell your child that kind of information? At what age is that appropriate information to share? How do you even tell them such information? Ugh. So many issues that have come up that I did not foresee. The thought of either of them being affected by this breaks my heart but at the same time at least I can take preventative measures for them. I know it isn't my fault, passing a gene for this is no different than passing on my hair color but it obviously has much different consequences. I am excited and nervous at the same time for my appointment. If I have a plan, I'll be ok and today is the first step in making that plan.

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