The Hairpin makes me laugh, cry, smile, nearly vomit, and more. I am continuously shocked at how often the articles relate to my life, or maybe I'm just pleasantly surprised to discover that we're (collective we) not so different after all.
This is great. I think the ONLY way this could've been better is if this fictitious Erika Barnes threw in a line about her upcoming gender reveal party at the end.
Are you kidding me? Jamie and Aurelia forever!
(I'm biased bc this is my honey's name.)
I did not see these topics addressed in the thread, but I am inclined to share my knowledge (I am not a medical professional, just a resident BRCA1-mutation haver and bc survivor 'pinner).
1. Actually, right now, there is no effective screening for ovarian cancer. What they do is transvaginal ultrasounds (I KNOW) and those can't really detect cancer, unless maybe if it's a pretty big tumor. It's just for funsies. (!!!) My oncologist said that in 10 years or so, when I will be having Big Talks with my doctors about the oophorectomy, maybe medical science will have made advances! In the meantime, I just have to watch for weird abdomenal symptoms. Should you carry the BRCA1 mutation, your doctor may recommend hormonal birth control pills to stave off ovarian cancer. (My doc does not recommend it for me because I already had breast cancer. I'm a little fuzzy on that, since I didn't have hormone-based cancer, but she okayed me for the Mirena for non-ovary-protecting purposes, so that's cool with me.)
2. If someone in your family has already tested positive for BRCA1 or BRCA2 (or one of the other genetic mutations), find out exactly what the funky code number is - and that is the only genetic mutation you really need to be tested for. I had my test included under the insurance umbrella because um, too late, already had breast cancer. I sent the specific genetic marker to my mom's doctor, as my mom decided to have a test, just to verify that she was the carrier so she could warn my aunt/cousins/extended family. She actually had breast cancer in 2006 so we assumed it would come back positive.
3. It came back negative. WHAT THE WHAT. Which means the carrier is my dad?!?! (Unless, of course, my mom's was a false negative, which happens sometimes - maybe they sent the wrong blood over??). The thing is, my dad comes from a male-dominated family with no known cases of breast or ovarian cancer. ALSO, his family background, as far as we know, is not any of the "big ones" in which the BRCA1 mutation is prevalent. So, how's that for a mind-***k?
4. Here's how my genetic counselors explained it to me, if it helps (using BRCA1 here as an example):
Everyone has 2 BRCA1 genes, one from each parent. They keep your boobs being booby. You can go through life without damaging your genes, but sometimes, outside factors affect those genes. (Hormones? Carcinogens? This part of the conversation is fuzzy for me). You damage one - you're down to one gene keeping your tits afloat, so to speak. You damage both? Your breast cells may go crazy and cause a tumor, aka breast cancer. When you have a BRCA1 mutation, you're born with one already damaged gene, YAAAAAY. So somewhere along the line, some random outside factor messes around with the second gene, and bam. Sometimes you know what "factor" caused your cancer, but sometimes you're left wondering for the rest of your life. (I fall into the latter category.)
@hallelujah *blushes* thank you
@greatbleuheron Future me greatly appreciates this comment. :)
@fata morgana DO IT!!!
@SarahDances And as far as biological children go, there is only a 25% chance my offspring will also carry the genetic mutation, unless my Brad Pitt is also a carrier (which ups it to 50%). My potential-future children may thus have to deal with the questions you yourself are facing, but I feel like the rest of their lives will be so awesome (as my offspring, duh) that merely existing will outweigh the downside of having a predisposition to cancer.
@SarahDances They don't make you do both at the same time. I had my mastectomies (reactive; I had cancer) last year, but I won't be having an oophorectomy until sometime between when I am finished having children and when I turn 40, unless, god forbid, I also develop ovarian cancer. I do not need a hysterectomy - BRCA1 isn't tied to uterine cancer, as far as all the info I've received says.
I will never be able to breastfeed, but I was a formula-only baby and I turned out GREAT.
(Also, I didn't have chemo or radiation or take drugs... which means my fertility has not been impacted by cancer.)
@cosmia Well, I'm 25... I got diagnosed at 24... I'm part of the 1% of women who get breast cancer in their 20's. Not exactly the 1% I'd like to be part of, but I enjoy making the 1% joke from time to time.
Even if you have the gene, you don't have to do anything about it if you don't want to. You could be perfectly fine just having regular breast exams (and feeling yourself up, woo!), then mammograms (or MRIs) when you hit 40 or so. Even if you have a 60% chance of getting cancer, there's still a 40% chance you WON'T have it. (Stats were never my favorite subject, though...)