I booked my appointment before we all heard about Angelina Jolie, but the news that such a high-profile celebrity has undergone genetic testing, served to highlight the issue and remind me that I was doing the right thing.
For those that don’t know, women with a family history of cancer can ask their GP if it’s appropriate that they are tested for a mutation in a particular gene. The BRCA1 gene to be precise (BR = breast CA = cancer). A gene that can determine whether or not you are likely to develop breast or ovarian cancer.
How absolutely, mind- blowingly amazing.
I think a big part of me thought that my doctor would say I wasn’t really at risk and the tests weren’t necessary. That my mother and my aunt died of other, secondary cancers, despite having breast cancer first, so I wasn’t really eligible. I went to tick the box, and congratulate myself on doing the responsible thing.
I was surprised that she immediately agreed that the tests would be appropriate. I was surprised that it wasn’t something she did there and then – that I would have to wait for a referral before preliminary counselling and blood tests. I was surprised that I got into my car after the appointment and burst into tears.
I hadn’t really thought past that initial appointment. I certainly hadn’t properly considered the “what ifs” and I still haven’t if I’m honest.
The scariest thing? The thing that when it occurred to me, made me more afraid than the possibility of my getting ill in the future?
If I test positive for a mutation in the BRCA1 gene, then it’s possible that one day Grace might too.
At times like this I need an “off” switch on my brain.
Because how incredible that we live in a country – albeit in a bit of a muddle right now – that we have the knowledge and the power of this incredible means of self-preservation.
Knowledge IS power.
Now it’s just the wait . . .