Part of the breast cancer protocol is to meet with a genetic counselor. Based on their findings, blood tests for genetic markers may be recommended. I met with a counselor today.
My chance of having a genetic mutation that causes reproductive cancer is a little less than 5%. If I test positive, my biological children then have a 2.5% chance of having the marker, and if any of us have the marker, our chances of reproductive cancer increase to 85%.
A positive genetic test for me would then prompt surgery to remove my ovaries, and greater watchfulness for other related cancers. Positive tests in my children would result in greater diligence in proactive and preventative health care, maybe even to the point of drastic measures. It was these findings that prompted a perfectly healthy Angelina Jolie to opt for double mastectomy.
I struggle with this. Any female alive runs an 8% risk of breast cancer. That is a given. So am I really doing myself or my family any favors by gathering further information about genetic risk? It is possible that this knowledge could (could) spare one of my children having to walk the road I’m on–but at what cost?
Even if I am tested positive and they are tested negative, the 8% risk remains. However, what toll does it take on a mind and a heart if we are told one of us has now bumped our risk to 85%? I can’t imagine living with the constant fear of what might happen.
For myself, having too much information is dangerous. Sometimes ignorance really is bliss. I want to minimize my children’s risk of developing cancer, of course, but in doing so I do not want also to give them grounds for unreasonable fear and a black cloud that follows them everywhere.
For today, I passed on having the test done. Tomorrow, next week, or in a year, I may feel entirely differently. Maybe my children will feel differently and I will do it for them.
This issue is far more complex than my puny thoughts here, I’m just thinking out loud, processing. For today, I’m at peace leaving this knowledge of my inmost being in the hands of He who made me. He’s got me, and He’s got my kids, and I will rest in that.