When my mother flew out from New York after my cancer diagnosis in 1998, she said, “Our family has the cancer gene.” Too many relatives had died too young from various types of cancer, including her sister Ruth at age 36.
Until the 1970s, specific cancer genes were not known. Twenty have since been identified. The two that are the probable causes for our family history are the BRCA-1 and BRCA-2 gene mutations, especially prevalent among Ashkenazi (European) Jews.
In 1998, I spoke to a genetic counselor but didn’t take the blood test because I have no children, and didn’t think that test results would impact my personal medical decisions. Two weeks ago, on the advice of my surgeon, I spoke to another genetic counselor and decided to take the test.
The results are in today. I have no known cancer genes or gene mutations, and thus have no genetic predisposition towards any type of cancer. I don’t have to preventatively cut out body parts, nor am I at a higher risk for future illness.
With a healthy lifestyle and no known cancer risks, why did I get cancer twice? My doctors don’t know, and I don’t know.
Some days the shit just hits the fan.