Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Cancer Curse

I think this is the first time I have managed to write a blog entry so soon after the C-spa trip and it feels good. Yesterday went better on the whole anxiety front surrounding the IV which was very relieving for me. It also felt good that this would be my last FEC round which is the worst one you can get. The rest of the day was not a walk in the park and I spent my time in bed with a cold facecloth on my head from about 2pm to 630am this morning. However I am doing well today and hoping my trip to the acupuncturist shortly will sort me out. I also have my last nasty injection today which is also a reason to celebrate. Lots of goodbyes to lots of unpleasant things for me today so it is a reason to smile.

I did decide after talking to my oncologist yesterday that a VAP would be a good option for me. What the hell is a VAP you ask? Well it is a venous arterial port that they implant under your skin just below your collar bone that makes putting IVs in considerably easier. I am not thrilled with the idea of getting something implanted under my skin (think the Matrix) but if it means reducing anxiety I am all for it. It also makes sense seeing as I am getting my next chemo cycle weekly. I was also relieved to hear my doctor tell me that I would no longer get nausea from my new drug nor would I need the white blood cell booster shot. I told him I would come looking for him if it wasn’t the case and he laughed and said he would be on holiday anyways! :) Yes even oncologists can make jokes.

Our discussion did take a more serious turn however as given some recent news within my family, the very real fear of a genetic link for breast and ovarian cancer has suddenly become too much of a reality. Upon hearing of my news, he felt that it was necessary for me to get the BRCA 1 genetic test. Now until I had cancer I really knew nothing of this gene and it isn’t a gene you want to get to know. This gene is essentially like a misspelling in your genetic coding which results in your body not being able to read or understand it. It is not that common and usually only account for less than 10% of all breast and ovarian cancers. However if you are unfortunate enough to have it, you carry an 80% chance of developing breast cancer in your lifetime and a 40-60% chance with ovarian cancer. This is considerably higher than the general population and often prompts women with the gene to remove all those affected organs before the cancer develops. All very scary facts to digest when one is already facing cancer. And the other equally scary part of this cancer curse is how it is inherited within families. If one of your parents carries the gene, the children have a 50/50 chance of having the gene themselves. It is really like a sick version of Russian roulette. So not only do I have to worry about myself, but I must worry about my siblings, my nieces and my daughter. It is a lot to process and my doctor agreed that something as major as this could wait till I had made it through my treatment. He also echoed my hopes that for the little ones in 20 or so years, cancer would be curable and prognoses miles ahead of where it was now. We seek comfort wherever we can. So it was a bit of a blow for me yesterday hearing of this cancer curse. However as my husband always reminds me – you can’t react to something that hasn’t yet been confirmed and to wait till you know all the facts. Then you can make your game plan, so that is precisely what I am doing. Task 1 – get healthy Task 2 – be happy Task 3- Find out everything.

So I am going to enjoy the next 3 weeks and really live it up (well as much as one can do when there is no alcohol or exotic travel involved!). I also have a wonderful visit from my brother and his family in the next few weeks which is a real treat as I am homebound. Family and friends are truly the best medicine for the mind and it is so lovely to have things to look forward to at a time like this.

Happy Wednesday Everyone!


  1. Glad to hear this phase is almost over.

    Heavy stuff about the genetic testing. Fingers crossed none of you have the gene.

  2. Congrats! One tough stage has now been conquered, a step closer to recovery!

    Your husband is perfectly right – you can’t react to something that hasn’t yet been confirmed and to wait till you know all the facts. Then you can make your game plan. Glad that you have such a supportive and understanding soulmate close to you. I am sure you are feeling fortunate and proud of him!

    Good for you to think so positively and are ready to take on such excellent moves: Task 1 – get healthy Task 2 – be happy Task 3- Find out everything.

    Well,look forward to your brother's visit and enjoy the days of family reunion. That will speed up your recovery as happiness contribute to building up your immune system too.

    Hugs and Prayers!