Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Gene therapy

Wouldn't it be great if genetic counseling really meant they could counsel your genes?

But it doesn't.

Because of my family history of breast cancer (first mother, now me), I consented today to having a blood draw to find out if I carry either the BRCA 1 or BRCA 2 gene.

"The likelihood that breast and/or ovarian cancer is associated with BRCA1 or BRCA2 is highest in families with a history of multiple cases of breast cancer, cases of both breast and ovarian cancer, one or more family members with two primary cancers (original tumors at different sites), or an Ashkenazi (Eastern European) Jewish background. However, not every woman in such families carries an alteration in BRCA1 or BRCA2, and not every cancer in such families is linked to alterations in these genes." (from National Cancer Institute page)

So, if you have this gene, it may be big trouble for you and yours. Or, not!

I do not have extended family with rampant cancer (or any), nobody's dying of it, and my great, great grandfather was a Jew, which hardly makes me mishpocha.

My biggest problem was with the little gal who was doing my "counseling" and whatnot. She is a nurse practitioner for a gyn at the cancer center. She is perhaps 30, and blonde, and chirpy. What she told me about the BRCA genes is readily available anywhere, including the Web page I just quoted from. If I'm going to be "counseled," I really need someone with a few grey hairs, metaphorically or otherwise. When I mentioned, with some anguish, that my child is having some real concerns about the future of her own health because of the present state of mine, Nurse Young and Probably Childless suggested that I teach her to "live in the moment" and help her not worry about what might happen later.

Let's not forget, the other big reason to have this screening is so offspring can plan accordingly for their own health care. I wish I'd known that the major component of this was to "learn to live in the moment" so I didn't have to bother with this tiresome conversation.

We also discussed removal of my ovaries, if I roll craps on this thing again and come up positive for the BRCA 2 gene. I mentioned how unexcited I was about this, and Nurse Young pointed out that in five years I'm headed for menopause and will be losing hormone production anyway. That and the fact that I will be on Tamoxifen pretty much washes me up in the feminine hormone league.

So, to review, live in the moment and get used to the fact that I'm not going to enjoy the substance that makes me a woman. Good to know.

The lab people test my blood the "Jewish" way first and that takes 2-3 weeks. If I'm negative, they run it again like the rest of the goyim and that takes another 2-3 weeks.


Spike Gillespie said...

on a lighter note... hat # one is in progress, being constructed on pretty tiny needles, but hopefully will still get done fast enough. so don't go growing your hair back by next week-- think of *my* needs eh? live in *my* moment. color to be revealed later, but it's this uber soft cotton/silk/rayon blend, lightweight, fine gauge, selected by the nice ladies at hill country weavers who know their shit. and, not that you asked, but yes, that's right, it's time for MORE unsolicited advice from the gray haired arts and crafts queen who had to try to explain her malignant ovarian tumor to a then six year old: glitter and glue and yarn and googly eyes and drawings drawings drawings. make some angry art together-- not even to "visualize" the bad cells going away. just because it's so damn fun.

Roseana Auten said...

Spike, there are lots of times I would rather live in your moment. And if I could figure out a way to get the kid to make a podcast about this instead of, well, whatever she makes podcasts about, I would.