Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Genetic mutations

As I hear the news that Angelina has had another surgery, this one to remove her ovaries and fallopian tubes, I ponder, what would I do? But as I listen to the doctors on TV talking about how she has reduced her risk of ovarian cancer significantly through this surgery, I am inclined to agree with her.

She has had a difficult medical journey with a BRCA 1 gene mutation and a strong family history of breast and ovarian cancer. I would think that anyone faced with this type of decision would agree that all need to make their own decisions but her decisions sound logical and she seems to be comfortable with them.

One thing that has always concerned me about genetic research is what if I had one? What would I do? I have no idea. At one point I was tested to see if I had a specific genetic mutation, one that is found in women who have both breast and thyroid cancers, and was told I didn't have it. Which was a big relief.

I mean if I had a genetic mutation, what would I do? First of all, genetic mutations can be inherited or can occur in individuals. Then you get a label - being a mutant - and you get stress. Now you have to make decisions on how to deal with it. There is often not much you can do about a mutation, other than watchful waiting.

Some of them, like BRCA, you can have surgeries or take medications and reduce your risk of health issues. Many others, there is much less you can do. You just get more medical visits and follow ups to test for issues. I think you would be stuck, waiting for the inevitable to happen. Not fun.

You may call me a weinie but I have never had any desire to find out what mutations I might have. I know I seem to have been dealt the unlucky hand in the health lottery, but I do not want to know if more ailments might be in store for me. I prefer to enjoy my life as it is now instead of stewing over what might be. I know what my life is now but I have no way of knowing what might be.

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