Genetic Counseling

I started my next regimen of chemotherapy – Taxol and Carboplatin every week for 12 weeks. This regimen is supposed to be much easier to manage than the first regimen I was on. The first regimen knocked me out with fatigue and nausea but thank goodness, no vomiting. I usually took about a week to be back to semi-normal. I am hoping this new regimen will have a shorter recovery time to semi-normal, and I am happy because the medicine is working. As I mentioned in a previous post, my tumor is gone. Now I just have to finish this second regimen, and then I can schedule my surgery in May.

I had a meeting with a genetic counselor a couple weeks ago, and at first I was scared, but I left the meeting feeling like I have a a new lease on life. I learned so much more about the BRCA 1 gene, and no longer do I feel like I have been nailed to a cross with this genetic mutation, ha! Here’s some of what I learned:

  • 1 in 8 women (12%) will develop breast cancer in their lifetime.
  • Of the 12%, I fall in a very small category of 5-10% of women whose cancer is hereditary.
  • Patients with a positive BRCA 1 gene mutation have a higher risk (50-87%) of developing breast cancer in their lifetime as well as a greater risk of developing a second breast cancer in their lifetime. This is why a double mastectomy is recommended to eliminate the chance of a second cancer happening. The logic is – no breast tissue, no place for BRCA 1 to act.
  • I have triple negative breast cancer meaning my tumor doesn’t have receptors for hormones. This is why I was recommended to be treated with chemotherapy as opposed to hormone therapy or radiation.
  • A BRCA 1 gene mutation also poses a greater risk for ovarian cancer (40%). My personal family history does not have ovarian cancer; however, I may still want to consider having children and then removing my ovaries and fallopian tubes before age 40.
  • When I have children, medical advancements can help me stop the gene mutation from being passed on. Through in vitro fertilization, we can select the embryos without BRCA 1.

I rest assured knowing there are other women like me who have gone down this path. I have a plan, and I am looking forward to the next chapter of my life and being cancer free. Although a diagnosis at age 28 is shocking, the silver lining is that there is time: time for me to make informed decisions and to maximize the health of my future children. I am grateful, so grateful.

Until next time …

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