So it turns out that I carry the breast cancer gene, BRCA2 to be exact. I found out last Wednesday at work. I hadn't been too worried about it because my oncologist said that with my type of tumor (her2neu positive) it would be unlikely. I started to get a little concerned on Tuesday when the breast care coordinator asked me if I was on pins and needles waiting for my result, and thats when I started wondering if maybe I should be worried. I called and found the results out the next day.
Finding out this information made me feel like I was being kicked while already down. For me, it means that I will need to have a bilateral mastectomy. Also, in the next several years I will need to decide whether to have my ovaries removed because there is a significant increase in ovarian cancer if you carry this gene. There are implications for others too. There is a 50% chance that I have passed this gene on to each of my four children. I only have 1 daughter, but it increases the risk of some types of cancers in the boys also (boys can also carry it, so they can can pass it to their daughters). I am pretty sure I inherited this gene from my mother because both she and my grandmother had breast cancer. They were both post-menopausal, but my dad's side of the family doesn't have any breast or ovarian cancer that I know of. I am meeting with a genetic counselor on the 22nd, so I will know more after that. Both of my parents have passed away, so they won't be able to be tested. Right now I am trying to track down family history information on who has had cancer so we can figure it out. Both of my parents families are huge, so there will be a lot of people who will be affected. I know that some will not want to know, but for me, knowing that I carried this gene may have made a big difference as I am too young to start routine mammogram screening.
Physically I am feeling fine, I have returned to work and plan on continuing at least for now. I do understand that chemotherapy will be cumulative and there will likely come a point when I need to stop. My awesome co-workers gave me the best gift basket ever full of pajamas, scarves, hats, itunes gift cards, mints, mouthwash, nail polish, lip gloss, gift card to get my hair cut (I will talk more about this later) etc. The best part of it was housecleaning during the chemotherapy ordeal, what a thoughtful gift! They also had pink bracelets made that say "Team Nancy" which are a huge hit with my friends and neighbors. Some little girls came by last night wanting one. I have the most supportive friends and neighbors ever, and have also received lots of delicious dinners!
I have always wanted to try really short hair, and I decided that this is my opportunity. So Saturday I used my gift card and cut it all off! I absolutely love it and wish that I had done it sooner. I'll post pictures. The sad thing is now it's starting to fall out.
I met with a plastic surgeon today (Dr. Ferguson) to talk about reconstruction. I really liked him and am hoping that I can do my reconstruction at the same time as my mastectomy. He showed me a lot of pictures and it is pretty amazing how normal they look.
Emotionally I am overall doing better, but still have ups and downs. It helps me to stay busy and I am still running and biking, as my oncologist recommended. I appreciate the prayers and support that I have received from everyone and am so thankful for friends and family.
I'm gearing up for the next round of chemo which will be on Monday, and hoping for the best!