The definition of family history of cancer is:
"You may have a strong family history if any of the following situations apply to you:
- More than 2 close relatives on the same side of your family have had cancer – the same side of your family means either your father’s relatives or your mother’s relatives
- The relatives have had the same type of cancer, or different cancers that can be caused by the same gene fault
- The cancers developed when the family members were young, below the age of 50
- One of your relatives has had a gene fault found by genetic tests
Then along came me: first cancer at age 19 and second at age 45. How did that happen? Who knows. The one thing I have learned, through lots of therapy and support groups, is that I can't beat myself up about it.
(It is important to remember in life that nothing that happened can be undone, and unless you intentionally did something, do not blame yourself. You can blame your lung cancer on your chain smoking or your skin cancer on your tanning bed addiction but otherwise skip the self blame.)
But I digress. Most cancers are not from family history. Despite all the publicity about the BRCA genes, something like less than 10% of breast cancer cases are attributed to them. There is also an obscure genetic mutation called Cowden's Syndrome, which has thyroid cancer and breast cancer as symptoms. But I don't have that.
So basically I do not have a family history of cancer and some how I got the short straw. We have no idea how I ended up this (un)healthy. I don't really care how this happened and I am not going to waste any more energy on stressing about it. The unfortunate part is that I now have an increased risk of getting another cancer.
I did inherit other things from my parents. I have my father's hair - his is not yet completely gray at almost 88, and I get to gloat at my siblings and their gray hair. But I did also get my mother's rheumatoid arthritis. Damn.