When I was diagnosed I had no family history of breast cancer. In fact I wasn’t able to check off any of the risk factors. I had known women who were concerned about the possibility because of a strong family history, but it wasn’t something I ever really considered. Nearly a year to the day after my diagnosis my mother was diagnosed. All of a sudden our family became one of those I’d only heard about. Now I have things to sort through that I never thought I’d have to. Things I’d rather not think about, but they concern my children so I don’t see a choice. I also have two sisters to think about.
The first issue is do I get tested for the BRCA gene. I just don’t know. I may have a family history now, but it’s still not a very strong one. And I’m afraid the lack of the BRCA gene may give my sisters and my daughter a false sense of security. By the same token, if I DO have the BRCA gene it doesn’t necessarily mean they will end up with breast cancer. I suppose I should talk to my sisters about this. As for Katie, she’s 13 right now. My oncologist suggested I may want to be tested when she’s a little bit older. It could affect her decisions about marriage and, even more importantly, having children sooner rather than later.
And what about Taylor. He’s 16 and has a lovely girlfriend. Her mother is also a breast cancer survivor. Let’s just say they end up getting married someday. How does the fact that both mothers had breast cancer affect their children? And should the double history be part of their decision to get married? Adding to all this is what I saw on GMA yesterday morning [article]. We now have the capability of screening embrios for an inherited gene which would increase the risk of breast cancer. So does that play a part in their decisions?
Sometimes I have this very irrational guilt over what I’ve done to my children. Stupid, I know. I didn’t ask for the cancer. But you know how it is for us moms. We want to protect our children from the ugly. I don’t want them to have to ask the questions. I wish neither of them had to think about what my cancer and my mother’s cancer means for them. But I can wish in one hand and spit in the other. I certainly don’t want them to bury their heads in the sand.
What thoughts have you had on these issues?