"The genetic testing part has been actually the hardest part of my breast cancer journey - as I have three kids, two of them girls, and each of them have a chance of inheriting this gene mutation. But, knowing that I have this gene mutation has changed my cancer treatment."
What led you to doing the testing? "I was 43 when I was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer, and my oncologist recommended it since I was on the young side."
What were your results, and what choices have you made based on the findings? "I was BRCA2+. If I was negative, then I would have opted for radiation and enhanced screening. But, since I am BRCA2+, I opted for no radiation and to have prophylactic bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy (removal of both ovaries and fallopian tubes) as well as a skin-sparing double mastectomy with immediate reconstruction (nipples were removed and implants were put in after all breast tissue was removed - one surgery). This prophylactic surgery decision was easy for me as I already had all my kids and as I am now in menopause there is no chance of having any more kids."
Was payment an issue? "No, since my insurance covered the testing, payment was not an issue."
How have you discussed these decisions with your family? "Everyone knows that I have breast cancer, but I have only told the adults about the BRCA2+ findings. I'll wait until my kids are older before I discuss this with them."
What suggestions would you have for others? "Just prepare yourself for the feelings that accompany the results. That kind of took me by surprise -- my three wonderful, beautiful, smart, awesome kids each will have a 50% chance of inheriting this mutation and honestly it kind of kills me a little when I think about it too much. But, just because a person may be positive does not mean that they will get cancer, just an increased risk (a mantra I tell myself, it sorta helps). Also, knowing that I am BRCA2+ has helped me steer my treatment to hopefully prevent a future cancer from forming. My advice is to really sit down and talk to a genetics counselor before getting the testing. They will explain what the findings can mean and can really prepare you for whatever comes up. I had an excellent genetics counselor who took the time to explain in detail how the DNA thing works before I went through the testing, and to remind me that a BRCA1 or BRCA2 [positive] finding is not a death sentence."
-- omt, tested positive for the BRCA2 genetic mutation