Great news arrived today!!! The results are in from my genetic screening and I DO NOT have the BRAC1 or BRAC2 gene mutation! WooHoo!! One less thing for me to worry about. And it’s great news for both me and Miss M.
It decreases the risk that Miss M will develop breast, ovarian and other types of cancer. Apparently a woman who inherits the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes is about five times more likely to develop breast cancer than a woman who does not have such a mutation. Many women who test positive for the gene even chose to get their breasts removed when they do not have breast cancer as a preventative and cautionary measure. I’m so glad Miss M won’t have to face those same decisions.
But regardless, Miss M still has to face the possibility that she may develop cancer. Everyone has to face that possibility.
And I stand by my beliefs that cancer risk is not just about genes. It’s about harmful chemicals that we ingest on an every day basis… It’s about the unhealthy, overly processed, and nutrient void diets that most people consume… It’s about the toxic levels of stress in our society… It’s about unforeseen tragedies that inhibit our ability to stay healthy… No one is immune.
I can only do my best to reduce the odds for Miss M. I can make sure she eats a healthy diet (to this day she has never eaten a meal at a fast food restaurant! I’m holding out as long as I possibly can). I can encourage her to be active. I can help her develop healthy coping skills to combat stress. I can inform her about her risks. As she gets older she will make her own decisions. But for now, I can help lay the foundation of a healthy life for her.
I still think about how all of this will impact her in the years to come. What is it like to grow up knowing your parent is sick and may die at any time??? That’s some pretty heavy shit.
Even now at age 2 (almost 3) she says and does things that are not the “norm” for kids her age… She asks to help sort my vitamins & supplements each week into my days-of-the-week pill box. She assumes every appointment I go to is to visit a doctor (which I guess isn’t too far from the truth). She always has to be conscious of my “boo-boos” - No band-aids on my fingernails because it might pull the nail off, no grabbing my neck because she might mess up the line from my port, or resting her head on certain parts of my chest because it hurts…
The other day she told me her Minnie Mouse doll was exercising. When I asked if Minnie got all sweaty like I do, she replied, “No, Minnie doesn’t have hot flashes!” I burst out laughing.
I guess this is just how life is for a kid whose parent has cancer (or any other disease for that matter). And for the most part she and I continue to live our lives and have fun together despite the fact that the cancer is always there.
I never thought I wanted to be a stay-at-home-mom, but now I cannot imagine going back to work before she starts school and missing out on all these precious moments with her. I often think about how I had just accepted a job offer in November – the week before I was diagnosed… My fingerprints were scheduled mere hours after my mammogram (that I was CONVINCED was going to be fine). And then the doctors told me it might not be the best idea to start a brand new full-time job right about now. So I didn’t.
So in essence, cancer (both my mom’s and my own) has enabled me to stay at home with Miss M and given me the gift of being intimately involved in the early years of her life. How amazing. It’s funny how I see all these gifts around me now that I didn’t see before.
Take a look around and find the gifts. They may be hard to find, but they are there.