A breast cancer survivor shares her experiences with the BRCA gene.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Determining My Fate

I met with my oncologist this morning for the first time since all my surgeries were completed and pathology report in. Since they had discovered "fallopian cancer" (although it was precancerous cells, it's still considered cancer), I waited for Dr. Kay to determine whether I had to face another bout of chemo or not. My future was in her hands.

With cancer, your future is always in the oncologist's hands. Period. Not the surgeons. Not the radiologists. Solely, the oncologist. Remember that.

First, I would like to point out that after umpteen times I had to starve myself before tests and surgery, and all the times I went without sustenance following surgery, and all the times I released my food via mouth (if you know what I mean) and all the time I wasn't hungry...I STILL DID NOT LOSE A SINGLE POUND THROUGH THIS ENTIRE ORDEAL!!! You would think that an ovary or two would weigh something...

So, that got me off in a bad mood this morning at the doctor's office. Then, there was over a 2-hour wait...

Finally, when I saw Dr. Kay, I was--as the saying goes--"fit to be tied." However, my frustration over my weight and wait eased substantially when I remembered that this woman, alone, had saved my life. If she had not pushed for BRCA testing, I would have been walking around with fallopian tube cancer developing...and would never have known it. And it would not have had a happy ending. I thanked her for saving my life a 2nd time. She smiled.

She told me that of all her BRCA patients, 100 percent (yes, every single one of us) had cancer developing on the exact spot on our fallopian tubes! I'm sure they will be looking more closely at that phenomenon in the future.

She also said that since I'm still only 7 years out from my breast cancer, I would still need to see her every 6 months for a blood test -- plus, an annual chest x-ray, bone density scan and an MRI for my breasts (since mammogram is no longer necessary) and a blood test for ovarian cancer (for the cells in that area).

I'm still susceptible for cancer developing in my body because of my original cancer -- plus, BRCA carriers are more vulnerable towards other types of cancer besides breast & ovarian, such as pancreatic (oh, goody).

Although this was disheartening news, on the upside, Dr. Kay said my chances of developing breast or ovarian cancer were 5 percent - significantly low.

It's a good news, bad news sort of thing. I've beaten cancer and an early death twice, as I turn 50 this year. At the same time, cancer will always be a phantom hovering over me.

But, I can accept that as my fate. I know I am mortal and I will die of something eventually. And, I'm truly grateful for being able to live this long.

And, for the time being, I don't have to face chemo again. Now, that is reason enough to pop the champagne cork -- except that champagne has calories and now I must concentrate on moving the scales in the opposite direction.

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