Friday, February 28, 2014

The Results Are In

Remember this, where I talked about getting up the nerve to do the BRCA testing?  Well, I did it and we will get to the results shortly but first let me fill you in on a few things that have happened since my original post. 

Let's go back to July 4th, I was in the hospital after giving birth to my twin boys.  I had a visit with my grandmother and aunt on my mom's side, they had come to see the babies of course.   Some how during that visit we struck up a conversation about doing the genetics testing.  I am not sure how we got on the subject or even how the conversation went. What I do remember is my aunt saying she was going to do the test. My grandmother had already done the genetics testing a few years ago and we knew she had tested positive for the BRCA2.   I had used the "I will do it after I am done having kids" excuse for a few years. Maybe if I had just had a singleton pregnancy I could have milked that excuse a little longer but since I got a "bonus baby" I knew we were done.  No more excuses!

Fast forward six weeks and I go in for my 6 week check-up, I have a conversation with my doctor and she urges me to do the testing but to give my body 6 months to return to "normal".   Fast forward another 3 months and I get a text from my aunt, it says "hey, will you be around tonight? I want to share some information with you about my genetics testing".   I think I instinctively knew it wasn't going to be good news.

I called my aunt later that evening and we talked, she had done the testing and gotten the results. Positive BRCA2.  My heart sank, but as we talked I became increasingly more positive about it. She had a plan, she had done her research and was prepared for the results either way.  She was going to proceed with a double prophylactic mastectomy. I knew this was the right plan, I had thought about it myself and had decided that if and when I was tested and the result was positive, I would also have the prophylactic mastectomy. With our family history it wasn't IF you got breast cancer it was WHEN.  

Once you decide to have a prophylactic mastectomy you have to do a few screenings prior to the surgery, one of those is an MRI.   My aunt was proceeding through the proper steps before her surgery when she received the news that they had in fact found something on her MRI. It was cancer. I can't speak for my aunt because I don't know what was going through her head but I can imagine it wasn't good things, I am sure their were a few choice words.   The prognosis was good, it was an early catch and she had already decided to have a mastectomy. So she did! On February 7th, after a 6 hour surgery, she was cancer free and on her way to recovery.  Not an easy recovery, but recovery none the less.

I can tell you my aunt is one of the bravest people I know, that's not an easy decision, let alone an easy thing to go through.  She did her homework, made up her mind and proceeded forward.  If you hear nothing else out of this blog post, hear this...do the test! This includes MEN too, you aren't excluded just because you're male. Men are being diagnosed everyday with breast cancer and you can also be a carrier to your children.  If you have a family history of breast or ovarian cancer, do the test!!  It ultimately saved my aunts life. If she had not gone through the genetic testing and had that MRI it could have been years before that spot would have shown on a mammogram.  It may have been to late at that point. 

My aunt is now almost a month into her recovery and she is doing great, her doctors are impressed with how she is healing with this first surgery.  She also received clear scans of the lymph nodes they removed during the surgery.  She still has a long road ahead and more surgery but from what we know she has completed the hardest part.

Now let's rewind a bit, I met with a genetics counselor a little over a week ago.  Adam was out of town for work so my sister went with me to the appointment, honestly I probably would have had her go with me even if Adam had been in town.  I guess I feel a since of responsibility to her to do the test and to guide her through the process as well.  It was very interesting, they explain how the test works, how our DNA works and do a complete family history. After an hour discussion or so I did the test.  It was simple, one vile of blood and off it went, along with the results of both my grandmother and aunt's genetic testing.  This helped when they did the testing because they knew exactly what mutation they were looking for.  My genetics counselor said to allow two weeks for the results, okay, now I have two weeks of what felt like a 100 pound weight to carry around. 

Yesterday at 3:37pm I look at my phone and see a missed call, I realize it's the Breast Center and they have left a voicemail.  I don't even listen to the voicemail because it's only been a week since the test and she said to allow two weeks.  I immediately thought, this can't be good news if she's calling me already. I call her back and here is how it goes:

GC: Hi Sara, I have test results back, do you have a minute?
Sara: Already, it's only been a week. ( I don't think I had mentally prepared myself to hear the results that quickly)
GC: Yep, it was a quick turn around. Are you ready to hear the results?
Sara: Yes
GC: Your results are NEGATIVE for both BRCA1 and BRCA2, you do not have the mutation.
Sara: Are you serious? Are you sure?
GC: Yes, I am positive.
Sara:  I could kiss you right now if you were in front of me!!
GC: Well we can send each other a long distance hug.  With your negative results you won't need to do anything additional other then continue to get your yearly screenings.
Sara:  (In tears) I can't believe it, I never actually thought I would be negative. This is the best news!!
GC:  I am happy for you and glad I could deliver good news.

Then we said our normal good byes and I thanked her for being so kind through the process.

NEGATIVE!!!!  I am still in shock I think, I had convinced myself I was going to test positive and I was going to have the prophylactic mastectomy.  I was trying to figure out how I would take care of three kids while going through the process, I knew I would have family support but most people don't have to do stuff like that without the support of your mother.  Others can try but there is truly nothing like being looked after by your own mother.  So, I believe she and God had a hand in the negative test result, they knew it would be virtually impossible for me to get through without her.
I didn't realize how much it was effecting me, I cannot explain the weight that I immediately felt lift off my body.  I cried a lot yesterday, but all good tears!  I was in a better mood yesterday afternoon then I have been in a long time.  I had know idea the stress it was putting on my body.  Honestly, I think even if I had gotten the opposite results yesterday it would've been a relief. It makes me think of the saying "when you know better, you do better", if the results had been positive I would've at least known and could set my plan in motion. 

Now I just have one more step, getting my sister through the process so we can set her plan in motion.  I can only hope and pray that her results are the same and the plan we put into motion is one of celebration!



1 comment :

Ericka Andersen said...

Glad to hear your negative results...I know how you were feeling because I too had prepared myself for a positive result and just accepted that I would have a double mastectomy. I was thankful to be negative but of course went through things with my sister when she tested positive. Thankfully this technology exists and I'm glad things are good for you guys. No matter what Allison's results are, everything will be okay. Pro active is the way to be!