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The Day I Found Out I Am BRCA2 Positive

When you think about the major tests you’ve taken in your life, which ones come to mind? Is it your driver’s license test(s), your ACT/SAT tests, a big test you aced, or failed, in high school or college? Or is it a test of the medical variety that comes to mind, such as a biopsy, bone scan or MRI?

I guess the title I chose for this post is an obvious give away about where it’s headed.

I remember that day well. There are so darn many of “those days” to remember. That day was another one of those “stand-out” days.

After my biopsy confirmed I did indeed have breast cancer, the next big piece of my particular cancer puzzle to figure out was my BRCA status. Since my mother had already tested positive for the mutated gene, the chances were 50/50 I would as well. I was in the “thinking about getting tested” stage when cancer reared its ugly head speeding up the process for me. Cancer doesn’t allow you to think things over for too long.

I had to wait about two weeks for the test result to come back and of course, my oncologist was out of town during the week of its expected arrival. Feeling more than a bit impatient a day or two after that expected arrival date, I decided to call the clinic and unsuccessfully attempted to talk the nurse into giving me the results over the phone.

She emphatically told me the results hadn’t arrived yet and I would have to wait until my scheduled appointment on Tuesday; that was Friday. I didn’t believe her for a minute. I knew the results were in and she was just following proper protocol and I told her so, but she didn’t budge. Her lips were sealed. More waiting.

After hanging up the phone that day, I realized on top of everything else, I had surely sounded cynical, desperate and probably more than a little annoying, but I didn’t care. I wanted answers.

On the following pleasant Tuesday in May 2010, Dear Hubby and I waited calmly in the exam room wondering about the next bomb shell. My oncologist slowly entered the room carrying the purple folder. If you’ve had the test, you know about the purple folder; at least it wasn’t pink.

                    the day I found out I am brca2+

 

Immediately I knew from his demeanor what the results were. Actually, I knew even before he entered the room. Some things you just know. Call it woman’s intuition, or whatever. I somehow knew what the results would be.

Dear Hubby, my oncologist and I calmly looked at the white sticker that had been attached to my purple folder. There they were. The same words I had seen on my mother’s folder; positive for a deleterious mutation. The same dreaded words in the same dark bold-faced black letters as if to further emphasize my doom.

The day I found out I was BRCA2 positive

I read the words over and over and all I could think of was that they sounded more like words to describe some serious mental illness. I hope that doesn’t sound offensive to anyone who has suffered from mental illness. If they do, I apologize.

We weren’t surprised, or at least Dear Hubby and I were not. We were becoming more accustomed to hearing bad news. However seeing the words written down and stated out loud, somehow amplified their power and significance.

The results were in and they were conclusive, not even “suspicious.”

My genes were tainted. It was time to fine-tune our plan.

More on that later.

Read more about my genetic testing experience (among other things) in my memoir, Cancer Was Not a Gift & It Didn’t Make Me a Better Person:  A memoir about cancer as I know it.

What’s a test you failed?

Do you believe in intuition?

Have you had genetic testing or counseling?

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the day I found out I am brca2+

 

the day I found out I am brca2+

the day I found out I am brca2+

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Anonamoyous

Monday 13th of February 2017

I have BRCA also. I found out awhile back

Lisa

Thursday 5th of January 2017

Hi Nancy, I just read your post while waiting (impatiently) for my BRCA to come back. I don't have a thought either way with cancer in the family from uncles to my sister. I just took this on the 29th of Dec and am rather anxious. My husband is trying to be positive but I'm scared to death! Thank you for the words of courage and sharing that you are providing here.

Nancy

Thursday 5th of January 2017

Lisa, Feeling anxious is pretty normal. It's funny, I knew my test would come back positive and it did. I probably should've tested way earlier than I did, but you know what they say about hindsight. Good luck to you. Keep me posted.

Rebecca

Friday 2nd of October 2015

I def. believe in intuition. I always suspected I would be diagnosed with cancer, and when I felt that lump, I knew. Although I was negative for the BRCA, my curiosity didn't stop there. I felt something was not right -- not with my family history and me being diagnosed with cancer at the age of 32. So I continued to get tested for more genes and eventually found out about the ATM gene. One of the complicated things about our genes is that there are so many! And scientists have only identified 26 (?) for cancer alone. So who knows what other genes are floating in my body, but for now, I blame the ATM instead of blaming myself. Of course, I would have rather not get cancer at all.

Nancy, I am sorry you went through all this pain.

Nancy

Friday 2nd of October 2015

Rebecca, Intuition cannot be proven, but I just knew my results were going to be positive. Maybe that was a self-protection sort of mechanism. It's 'nice' to have these gene mutations to blame, but at the same time, it creates another whole set of complicated issues. And yes, wouldn't it be nice if we didn't have to deal with cancer at all. Any of us. Thank you for reading and commenting. I am sorry about your pain too. xx

Amy C.

Thursday 26th of September 2013

Hi Nancy! I'm so happy that I found your blog! I also tested positive for the BRCA2 gene. At first the news was overwhelming, I worried endlessly. Now that it's been a few years, I accept it. I can't change it, I have to live my life because I am profoundly aware of just how precious every moment is and tomorrow is never promised. Worry is like a rocking chair, it gives you something to do but it doesn't ever get you anywhere.

Nancy

Thursday 26th of September 2013

Amy, I'm really happy you found my blog too! Welcome! I like your rocking chair analogy. Never heard that one before. Thanks for sharing.

Lisa R.

Sunday 1st of September 2013

Thank you so much Lindsay I really appreciate it.