Genetics-to know or not to know

Would you like to have a genetics test? Its a simple question, now that you know you have breast cancer, would you like a genetics test?

At first blush, yes, I would like a genetics test, I want something to blame. Something to point to and say HA! that’s what caused this, take that! How satisfying would it be to say that a gene caused this, it wasn’t a random roll of the dice of millions of lifestyle choices, it was a gene, a stupid gene.

My three daughters gave me pause for the flip side. What if it is a gene, and they have it, did I give them cancer? Will they get cancer? Do they have cancer? They need to know. If I have the gene, they can get tested and know if they have the gene. Knowledge is power, right?

I am running though all of the potential good testing will do and I am running through how scary many of the answers are: I don’t have the gene, and the girls are no closer to knowing what their risks are, I have the gene and we get the girls tested and either none, some or all of them have the gene. The permutations and combinations are making my head spin–all from a little question, would you like a genetics test.

The lady is very patient, I have no idea how much time has passed, but we are no closer to the answer to the question of whether or not I would like a genetics test.

I finally decide that knowing is better than wondering what might be and what may be coming our way.

I don’t have the gene, the particular genes they were looking for that we currently know about anyway. The girls are no closer to knowing what their hereditary risks are, because they received half of their genes from their father and I don’t have the one thing to pin this cancer diagnosis on.

Looking at the risk factors, I check quite a few of the boxes though.

I had my first child after 30, that is a risk factor. I have never been a slender adult, as a matter of fact just hit a ‘normal’ BMI for the first time about a month ago, that is a risk factor. Stress and anxiety are also a risk factor, try being alive without either of them. Drinking alcohol is also a risk factor, so much for dealing with stress and anxiety that way. Here is a link to all of the risk factors: https://www.breastcancer.org/symptoms/understand_bc/risk/factors .

Life would be so much more satisfying if there was a gene to point to as the single point of cause in my case. Only 5-10% of breast cancer cases are thought to be caused by genetics, those that are tend to be more aggressive. Make sure you do self exams, get mammograms regularly and if given the option of having knowledge or remaining in the dark, choose knowledge, always choose knowledge.

Published by survivorsherpa

I am a wife and mother to three daughters, a chemist and a breast cancer survivor. I would very much like to help others by caring and advocating for them while sharing my experiences and tips that may help to thrive during and after treatment.

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