Monday, July 23, 2012


( Snagged from FB)

I had to go see the Oncologist...
and I don't have cancer.
If that isn't a "tickling the dragon" situation,
I don't know what is.

I must say it was an interesting conversation.
I learned about gene markers...
specifically for breast cancer.
are the markers that are a concern for me.

I didn't even know that there was a BRCA2.

I also learned about family history types.
I have a family history that is NOT typical of what 
the oncologist says normally causes concern.

Not that I should not be concerned, he finished.
(Well crap!)
We need to be curious about my history.

My mother and two of my sisters have had breast cancer
in varying stages when caught with varying results...
and varied treatments.

Breast cancer does run in some families.
What is unusual in our family is that
there is no other cancer anywhere on either side.
Family history of breast cancer almost always
has other family members who have had ovarian cancer...
as well as breast cancer.
The two cancers are linked genetically.

This is a positive note.

he wants me to question my siblings...
and ask them to give blood samples for the gene work.
I have no doubt at all, that they will cooperate.

The lab will separate out the BRCA 1 & 2 genes.
They will look for a mutation in them.
Then they will match my genes to theirs...
and hope that the mutation is not present.
I have a 50-50 chance on that.

Not as scary as I thought it would be.
A nice man with a professional ballerina daughter.
Which has nothing to do with anything.
But his walls are full of photos of his happy dancer.
I liked him.
He was serious without being stoic.
He was kind and very open to explanation and
all my silly and not silly questions.
It was a good educational experience.
Nor did he push for me to do anything... 
all up to me.

I learned that the reason that my mother
had an unusually high estrogen level was because 
she was overweight.
The body stores extra estrogen in fat cells...
which is why being overweight is a cancer risk.

I also impressed him with my awesome anti menopause powers!

He says that most women go through menopause
around age 50.
Not me.
He says this is good news for me,
as family history related breast cancer
usually shows up post menopausal.
Isn't this interesting?

Get yer fingers out of yer ears and stop saying
"lalalalalalala" !

If you have not run away by now...
the good news is that I left feeling much better about things.
once I have the gene work done,
I may have to face that scary decision on what to do.
But now I have two options.

If I have the mutated gene of my sisters,
I can choose prophylactic mastectomy with reconstruction
and they will built new nipples from the sensitive skin 
down under... of the labia.
Not that this means that the nipples will work the same way.
I don't know and I didn't ask. 
I was too busy hearing stupid and inappropriate jokes in my head about
my chest smelling like fish.

Or I can go for a chemical prophylactic treatment.
As in taking Tomoxifen.
This is the drug that works best for keeping breast cancer away...
but I know from my mother's experience 
that it has a limited amount of time that it is effective...
then it ceases to help.
it did give my mother 11 extra years.

And there is always a chance that I am
my family anomaly
and the mutation will not even be there...
and I don't have to worry about it as much anymore.

I don't think there will ever be a time where I feel
comfortable thinking that I absolutely won't get breast cancer.

did you know that a prophylactic mastectomy
is only 99% guaranteed effective?
That's because the skin on the breasts
has little threads of breast tissue that go almost all the way
to the skin's surface through that layer of fat
and skin layers
that cover the breast.
It is possible to get breast cancer in the skin and fat on your breast!

I left the oncologist's office feeling pretty good about things.
It is always better to be informed
when you have major things confronting you.

Most women who do not have a family history of it
only have a 12% risk of developing 
breast cancer.
I am envious!


  1. I'm glad this doctor is both helpful and not hasty. I asked my mother if she'd be willing to have the test for the genetic markers and she refused. She doesn't want to feel responsible if one of her daughters develops the disease. (I won't even go into my anger over the selfishness of this.) But I also know about the body fat link and that is one of the driving forces behind my interest in healthy food and exercise. And I take some comfort in knowing my body type is from my father's side and not my mother's (where the breast cancer/ovarian cancer history is). Still, I get my mammograms every year and most years am told to come back in six months because they aren't happy with the results. So far, in my two decades of mammography, nothing that has lead to the need for a biopsy. I am like you, though, and envy women with no family history of it.

    1. I have had some horrible doctors who did not want questions and hurried me out like I was a can of peaches on a production line. Naturally that was my only visit to them. Then I was spoiled by a wonderful doctor for 23 years. Meeting new ones now is so weird.

      Breast cancer is a scary business at best. I have had those mammos where they ask me back and then am told after repeats that there is nothing there. My heart always skips a few beats until I know its ok.

    2. BTW... your mom's attitude I do not understand. But my Medusa is that way too and it is very upsetting.
      I am so sorry that you have that to deal with. One would think that she would want to help you improve your chances. But I know that center of the universe and how it affect me, me, me attitude. =:[

  2. Having a communicative and patient doctor certainly helps allay the fears we all have about this subject. Ever since we've been blog buddies, I have found you to be pleasantly eccentric... maybe you will turn out to be the family anomaly.

    1. I will take "pleasantly eccentric" as a mighty compliment. Ha. Thank you! My doc of many years told me that it would not surprise him at all if I was the family anomaly. =:] I think he meant something similar.

  3. I love that photo of the little dragon! I picture having it perched on my shoulder at work as I greet customers and answer the phone. If someone's rude to my face, my dragon will take care of them.

    I'm so glad that you were able to leave the doctor's office feeling more positive.

    My mom developed breast cancer...jeez, must've been 10 years ago. Hers didn't reach the lymph nodes, so she didn't need chemo or anything, but they did remove that breast. She had reconstructive surgery and the surgeon was awesome.

    1. OH Tara, I wanted a tiny dragon as soon as I saw the picture! Did you ever read Anne McCaffrey's Dragon Singer series?

      It sounds like they caught your mom's cancer at a good time. Unfortunately, my mom, who feared doctors refused to go in until the lump she had was large enough for my dad to notice and make her go. By then it was in her lymph system and had taken root in her breast bone... from there it curved around to her spine and up into her brain. It was the cancer in her brain that killed her. All things considered, the Tomoxofen did an excellent job of keeping it down to a snail's pace.
      I am greatly relieved to hear that the reconstruction went well for your mom and the doc was great! Thanks for that information.

  4. I am so glad you saw a doctor who was compassionate and thoughtful, rather than with that 'be gone' attitude.
    Also good to know your sisters will be willing to help out with blood samples and such. That is how it should be!

    1. I was worried about having to have so many new doctors because of the insurance coming into play... you have to see their doctors. I am greatly relieved that I like and trust both of those that I was assigned. If I don't, then I can't see that doctor and take his/her advice seriously.
      Duffy and Cinderella are wonderful. I could not have asked for better sisters. You are right, that is as it should be! So sad when family members do not support you.

  5. It is a compliment and I hope it becomes the truth!

  6. i'm really glad you found a doctor who takes time to answer your questions thoroughly. i'm glad that he feels there are hopeful signs. i would have been like you, laughing in my head about labial nipples....hey, isn't that a good name for a rock band? seriously though....i hope you are the family anomaly. i hope it with all my heart.

    1. Ha! That is an awesome name for a rock or punk band!
      Thank you.

  7. as an unrelated aside, i wanted to thank you so much for your comment on my "spiritual debridement" post. i was really touched by how thoughtful and caring a response it was. it meant a lot and though i am late i wanted to say thanks.

    1. You are so welcome! That post was one of the few that made me sit right there and think a good while. It was very open and honest and I found myself in a place where I had been myself before. I too was deeply touched.

  8. Wow... it's certainly all out there now! But good for you for taking control of the situation. Smells like fish - that got a lol from me!

    1. I'm just glad that I didn't laugh out loud at my thoughts and set him to wondering so that I had to give an explanation. I feel much better now.