BRCA 2 Blog – Post 1

Posted in: BRCA 2 ♦ Wednesday, December 7th, 2011, 10:03 pm ♦ 2 Comments

December 7, 2011

BRCA 2 Blog – Post 1

In my last post, I talked about my struggles with the transition from patient to survivor. The one thing I failed to mention (because I felt that it warranted its own post) was the biggest reveal of the summer – I tested positive for the BRCA 2 gene mutation.

For those of you who may not be familiar with it, the BRCA2 gene is part of everyone’s DNA makeup, and provides protection against tumor development. If someone inherently has a mutation, this means one of the two copies of this gene has been altered. The result is an increased risk for certain types of cancers – primarily breast and ovarian.

For me, the diagnosis was a relief of sorts. I felt that it gave me some explanation as to why I have had two late stage primary cancers in the last two years. Does it mean that it caused my melanoma? Not definitively. As the genetic expert, Dr. Judy Garber, explained to me, what most likely happened is that the mutation made me more susceptible to tumors as a result of overexposure to the sun. So basically, both were factors.

This also means that I have a very high risk percentage of developing breast cancer. After what I just went through, there is NO WAY I ever want to have to have chemo again, so I am electing to have a prophylactic bilateral mastectomy (proactive both boob removal). This does not mean that I can never develop breast cancer, but it significantly reduces my risk.

This decision is not for everyone. There have been lots of articles recently about this very topic, with most saying that it is a drastic measure that does not need to be taken. Personally, I disagree. My feeling is that anything I can do to reduce my risk is worth it. Plus, the idea of needle biopsies, breast MRIs and additional CT scans every few months seems unnecessarily unpleasant.

Believe it or not, I am actually excited for the surgery. I can’t wait to get rid of them! It will be such a relief, and to top it off, I get some new boobies! Sweet! I can’t wait to parade them around the pool next summer (covered with lots of lotion and protective layers of course).

My surgery date is January 23rd. I am having it done in Boston, at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute/Brigham and Women’s Hospital. We head up there next week for consults and appointments. While we are there, I will also have a follow-up from my ovarian summer surgery AND meet with the melanoma docs too. I think it makes sense logistically to move everything under one roof to make sharing information easier.

I have to add here that the genetics team at DFCI is amazing. My counselor, Shelley, is awesome. She is super smart and incredibly helpful. As I mentioned above, I also had the privilege of meeting Dr. Judy Garber, the renowned genetics expert. Her background is as a breast oncologist, so she is very familiar with the risks and rewards associated with this type of surgery. She is a leader in this field and I feel very lucky to have had the benefit of her expertise.

Thus begins another new chapter in my cancer adventure. It seems to be a winding path with pitfalls and pinnacles around each corner. A true journey without any concern about the destination. Where is it going to take me now?

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2 Responses to “BRCA 2 Blog – Post 1”

  1. Posted by: valerie
    December 8th, 2011 at 10:27 pm

    Dear Andrea,
    The relief and peace in your words is palpable. I am very happy for you.
    Wishing you an Advent full of hope and anticipation!
    Did you ever get the book-”Anticancer-A New Way of Life” by David Servan-Schreiber,M.D.? I have it on Kindle, and if you have one, I think we can share books with others for 2 weeks.

  2. Posted by: STAN THE MAN
    January 11th, 2012 at 3:32 am

    Hi Dear Andrea,

    As always your message inspires the rest of us who live relatively healthy lives.
    This mutant gene inside of you is nothing compared to the soul inside you that bravely fights this battle and with your messages you make those who know you ever so prouder
    every day to have been part of your life. Carry on Andrea. I think of you often and pray
    for your speedy recovery. I am a much better person for knowing you and relaying your
    message of hope to people who may need a boost in their lives.

    As always,

    Stan the Man

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