Would you like to know if you were going to die? Ok! I know it’s not exactly that dramatic but, for a long time now I have anguished over this one. I am lucky enough, at my age and only because of my history obviously, to have regular ultrasounds and check ups. I don’t have Mammograms because I am too young and younger (cough cough) breast tissue is much harder to read on a Mammogram than it is on an ultrasound. Mind you! I had to push for it. I had a referral from my doctor and numerous pointless conversations and telephone tennis in order to be able to have these reviews. Unbelievable really.Luckily, I stuck to my guns.
I have also been offered the BRCA2 test. As if it wasn’t a ticking time bomb in my life anyway without having any concrete confirmation of a defunct gene which could lead me down the same path as my Mother. Perhaps I am naive to think I would rather not know, particulary given my massive spiritual beliefs in life but, what would I really do if I did have the irregularity in my genes? Would I have a double mastectomy and rebuild my breasts and then have a hysterectomy? Of course I bloody wouldn’t. I don’t have the most amazing rack but, I am more than happy to leave it how it is for now. I do want more babies though: the thought of never having another child is absolutely devastating to me. I already feel like my biological clock may prohibit me anyway but, to chose to eliminate even the option for good is beyond any type of comprehension I must admit.
We have all been alerted to the BRCA2 test, mostly thanks to Angelina Jolie but, quite strangely for me, I spoke to an absolutely lovely lady whilst at work (selling her Travel Insurance) who recommended me to her specialist. The first thing she asked me and probably because of my name: Was I Jewish? Specific mutations of the gene can be associated with some ethnic groups, namely those of Ashkenazi Jewish descent. I am not Jewish by the way but, in case you were wondering Shushanah is a Hebrew name.
There can be a mutation in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes that can suggest that you are at higher risk of Breast and Ovarian Cancer.If there is a mutation, your risk of getting Breast Cancer can be as high as 85%. However, your environment and lifestyle can always have a big impact. Well! Of course it can! If I never left my house, it would be unlikely that I would die from being run over. No-one else in my family had Breast Cancer but, did my Mum get it because she had a genetic mutation? Her Grandma may have had it too but, as she was run over by a bus, we will never know. Do you sense where I am going with this one?
I have agonized whether I would want to have my girls tested. The truth is, it wouldn’t be up to me. They should do whatever they see fit when the time arises and should I get Breast Cancer, then we would look at that much more closely of course. I have an Insurance in place which I have had for years, if I’m being honest, I could really do with now but, that’s an utterly despicable thing to say. I could though: or I shall continue to wait for my miracle and keep on dreaming.
I watched an amazing programme not long ago about an utterly beautiful and inspiring girl called Kris Hallenga who started the charity Coppafeel, promoting regularly checking your breasts for lumps and irregularities whatever your age. In this day and age and with all the media attention, it really isn’t still something that young girls feel they need to do. Kris was 23 when she was diagnosed with Breast Cancer and it had spread: to stage 4! Kris now spends all her time promoting breast checking and if you have a chance to check her out, make sure you do because it’s women like her that make this world seem like it has a purpose. She does for me anyway. As I said, I am lucky enough to get checked but, I still had to fight for it and as I’m used to fighting, I stuck it out. I know how easy it would have been to give up though. Very!
Don’t misunderstand me, My Mum didn’t die of her Breast Cancer because it wasn’t caught in time. She died because she first had Breast Cancer in the 80’s. That is truly what I believe. And she was in her 30’s which was considered really young to be diagnosed at that time. If she had the treatment that there is available today, I know she would still be here. There was no Herceptin then and Radiotherapy was primitive by today’s comparison, in a Prisoner Cell Block H type of fashion. My Mum’s had spread of course, spread to her brain in the end and when she could no longer talk, she jotted down her witticisms on an Etch a Sketch type affair. My treasured Godmother Ro (who I will tell you about soon) said that she had told her that she knew I would be OK because I was strong. I never wanted to be strong. I would have much rather not been strong and had an easy life. That is me being selfish again.
My Dad on the other hand, did die because he was diagnosed too late. Had he just had a routine check where Prostate testing was standard, he would still be here: infuriating me by never doing the jobs I would ask him to do whilst I was at work and then when I moaned at him, smiling at me with an almost bellowy smile that shone deep out of his soul.. If I had a time machine, I would not go back and get the Lottery numbers, I would go back 10 years, march him to a doctor and and demanded that they stick their finger up his bum right away! It really is not a difficult concept, every man over 50 should get that ‘digit up their doughnut’!
A man with Prostate Cancer after treatment or even during can have a PSA reading (Prostate Specific Amount) of 4 or under. When my Dad’s Prostate Cancer was discovered, his PSA was 2000! 2000!!! In my job whilst Medical Screening for Travel Insurance, in 13 years I have never spoken to one client with the disease who had a reading over 100. The doctor phoned me and said she was worried that I did not understand the severity of his condition (the drunk doctor I told you about before) Cheeky cow!!! Six months she told me we would get. Nearly 4 Years we were blessed with. That’s one determined, amazing, funny and much missed old git! I wish I could ask him if he would want me to be tested.
Happy fathers day you old git. Love you Dad!