Blood test

04Jul14

I got my blood requisition form this Wednesday and went for the blood draw the next morning.  So the clock is officially counting down.  And I am getting antsy again for more data.  I know I have googled this to death before.  Yet I am at it again.  Tonight I found an article which I read a long time ago that notes a family with the same mutation as mine.  There were four cases of breast cancer (one male) at the following ages of onset: 66, 33, 34, and 39.  When I first read this article, I was 29.  I am 33 now.

So even though this year seems difficult enough already, I am definitely feeling the urgency and having no regrets on taking this next step.  But in the meantime, I got about 8 weeks to reflect on what I am actually counting down to.

It’s interesting that I happen to bike by the provincial cancer research centre everyday to work.  A well-known research centre to boot.  Read in the newspaper the other day they are making waves on ovarian cancer and its relation to the fallopian tubes.  It is also the exact same place I go for my six months checkups.  Certainly reassuring to know that I have access to good health care, but it’s also a daily reminder.  I get glimpses of people getting up in the morning heading there for work and for their appointments.  And sometimes I ponder over what the world looks like from their eyes: as the office assistant who needs to smile and maintain a positive attitude even as they are witnessing heartbreaking cases, as the doctor who sees death as normal as life and can look survival charts like an investment broker, as the cancer patient who is sick and tired of going to the nth appointment this week and wishes those bikes would give them way for once.

In the process of stepping out of myself, I remind myself to keep perspective.  With all the special self-help brochures, personal blogs, dramatic news articles, it’s easy to fall into the mindset of being a striken minority. But what about the people who already have cancer who are still going on with their life?  In fact, just how many people around us are “normal?”  How many aren’t concerned about a health condition, family history, or have already been coping with a significant disability for years?   If genetic testing was more commonplace and the research was more advance, I think we’d be hard-pressed to find someone who wouldn’t be facing a scary statistic of their health risks.

Not that I am trying to trivialize having a BRCA mutation either.  Just want to recognize that in being part of this pioneering crowd of people who can intimately know their DNA, we’re charting new territories.  We don’t have much language or history for this experience.  That itself can be scary.  How do we share this others?  It’s on my mind everyday, so it’s hard not to want to talk about it.  But I don’t want pity or appear to be a pity-seeker.  I don’t want to be dismissed as “hysterical.”  Nor do I want to be dismissed as being doomed and damaged.  I don’t want trump others with my intangible concerns with their very tangible issues.  So frankly, I just don’t talk about it much outside this blog and private conversations with my partner.  Maybe that will change with time too.

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One Response to “Blood test”

  1. I completely agree with you about the scarcity of ‘normal’ people. Every family has concerns about health and as genetic testing becomes more sophisticated, I think most families will be made aware of their particular vulnerabilities. My family has BRCA1 to deal with – and a lot of early fatalities amongst our women – but other people clearly have vulnerabilities to aggressive diabetes, etc. It just isn’t the subject of a genetic test yet.


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