"I chose to complete genetic testing because I am 31 years old and it is very uncommon for women my age to get cancer. My father and uncle had prostate cancer, my uncle also had lymphoma, and my aunt had colon cancer. I am also of Eastern European decent with an Askenazi Jewish grandmother. I knew BRCA1/2 is more prevalent in the Askenazi Jewish population.
"I turned out to be BRCA1/2 negative, but positive for a CHEK2 mutation, which is more common among Eastern Europeans.
"CHEK2 mutations increase the risk of breast, colon, and prostate cancer. This new information means that I will need to start colonoscopies ten years sooner. I chose to get a bilateral mastectomy so I've already greatly reduced any recurrence risk. It also puts my sister at a high risk for getting breast cancer. If she too tests positive, then it will be recommended that she get a mammogram and MRI every year starting at 30 years old. My brothers also need to be more aware of their prostate and colon cancer risk and begin precautionary steps if they too are positive.
"For me, I felt it was important to complete genetic testing because it gives me an idea of possible cancers to keep an eye out for. Having done the testing also provided me with an array of preventative screenings I can do to ensure that I'm on top of my health. Instead of making me scared of the possibility of developing other cancers, I left feeling empowered that now I have more people looking out for me and tools in place to monitor my health.
"Aside from my personal health, I now also urge my family to get the same genetics tests done. Having genes with mutations increases their risk of being positive too. I want to make sure that everyone I love has the preventative care they need to catch any early stage illness associated with CHEK2.
"Finally, I very firmly believe in the value of research. The more people that get tested, the more information we have moving forward in treating others with breast and other types of cancer. We benefit everyone when we get tested."
-- Bc31, tested positive for CHEK2 genetic mutation