...what sort of nefariousness is at work in my body?
So, I'm considering genetic testing for breast and ovarian cancer.
I know it sounds silly, and it IS silly, but having had thyroid cancer and there being a possible (the data on this conflicting) susceptibility to OTHER cancers has me wondering if my body is secretly planning a mutiny. As well as having a grandmother who passed away from Ovarian cancer...well...it does sort of make a gal wonder, ya know?
Let me be perfectly clear here: I. AM. NOT. A. HYPOCHONDRIAC.
I didn't escape the clutches of one cancer only to go in search of something else to worry about. That really isn't my goal.
I am, however, a woman who knows virtually NOTHING about her family medical history. I don't have the oral stories that pass from person to person. My knowledge is limited to a brief conversation with my father before he died, which I cannot remember, where he mentioned some possible destructive familial diseases - all of which have vanished from my brain. I do, though, remember him saying that I should keep them in mind. That warning now casting an ominous shadow as I go kicking and screaming into middle age and which may have nothing to do with my boobs or ovaries!
My estranged relationship with my mother leaves a huge void, her death was from a self inflicted hard life that put her body through the wringer. It wasn't cancer that killed her, but did she have it? I'll never know.
That leaves me with the Ovarian connection. I read an article that said if a mother, grandmother or aunt had it, then tell your doctor. I mention it to my doctor and I get, "Eh, that isn't really enough of a link to be concerned about."
Sort of makes you feel like an idiot for mentioning it.
The rest of my family connections are currently non-existent. My aunt and I are pretty much left on our own, since we are both unwilling to open lines of communication with my grandmother's sisters. The effort involved in tracking down some branches of the family (specifically my grandmother's side), and then having to actually SPEAK to them is just too daunting to even let skip across my brain. Oh. HELL. no.
As I sat at the dining table this morning, filing out the family history section of the genetics application, I was tempted to just write a big fat "I DON'T FUCKING KNOW" across the whole thing. Boy, that would be so much easier!
Then I realized what a cop-out that would be. While very true - I really don't know - I am connected to people through Facebook that might be able to put me in touch with those that DO know...at least where my father's family is concerned. These people and I are strangers, connected through a man I hardly knew and who is now gone. But they are good people and well...we'll see how this all plays out.
So, there is a host of things that could be lurking in my genetic pool, looking for a chance to do me in. Or not. Genetic testing will only tell me if I have an increased risk of a few specific cancers - which is STILL not an indicator of whether I'll develop them later. Nor, will any negative results mean that I won't get them.
So, then...whats the point?
I guess it's my desire to know. Even if I don't go through genetic testing, I can at least make the effort to find out, through my blood ties, what may be circulating through our genetic makeup so that my children are aware. Knowledge is prevention.
I'm not a worrier, but I am getting older and that in and of itself means I'm at risk for all sorts of things (as are YOU, dear reader). I don't aim to scare myself, just arm myself.
Knowledge is also power.
So, stay tuned...I'll keep you all informed of my genetic adventure! Wouldn't it be cool if they discovered that I had some alien gene? Maybe there is a reason I started calling myself Alienbody. Hmmm.....