Shortly after losing my Mum to Endometrial Cancer in 2006, I visited my Doctor and very nervously asked "Is Endometrial Cancer hereditary?" Her response "Not at all, your Mum was just unlucky". I felt a bit uneasy with her answer as the Internet was telling me a completely different story. However, I put it to the back of my mind, (thinking the doctor must be right) until last May when I spotted Angelina Jolie in the news speaking out about having a double mastectomy after learning that she had a 90% risk of developing breast cancer.
I felt sad that Angelina had also lost her Mum to cancer (breast) aged 56, the same age my Mum lost her battle with cancer. I could relate to her concerns about hereditary risks and began to look for more information to see if I also had a hereditary predisposition to certain cancers. I discovered that my Mum's cancer did carry a risk of being hereditary, especially as she was so young (only 56). To die from a cancer that usually effects women in an older age bracket was quite rare, so I realised that maybe I should go and speak to my new doctor about it.
I explained my fears to the doctor, and also the fact that I had recently lost my Nan (Mum's Mum) to Ovarian Cancer in 2011. He agreed to refer me to the Great Ormond Street cancer genetic specialists and within a few weeks I had received an appointment for six months time.
Yesterday, I went for that appointment. I expected to walk in, be given a simple blood test and walk out again. However, the procedure wasn't that easy. The appointment lasted 45 minutes with a genetics specialist, who introduced herself as a cancer genetic counsellor. I found her to be really professional, sympathetic and informative. I was asked all about my family tree, the medical history of my Parents, Grandparents, Great Grandparents, Siblings, Aunts, Uncles and Cousins. I felt really emotional as we discussed my Mum's diagnosis, her symptoms and how quickly we had lost her. I was told that endometrial, ovarian and bowel cancers are all connected with hereditary risks. I was then medically informed about my options, should it be discovered that I am high risk of genealogical cancers.
The specialist will be requesting my Mum and Nan's medical history over the next few days and if it is confirmed that they had endometrial and ovarian cancer then I will be offered a blood test and if necessary preventative surgery. Of course, I feel anxious about having surgery, but if Mum had, had surgery in her 40's then she may of still been with us today. I feel sad that my Mum was never given a chance.
Having this genetic testing is taking a huge weight off my mind. I feel Thankful, that I am in the position of having a choice, unlike my poor Mum and I will do everything I can to reduce my risk, . I feel lucky that I have a good doctor and should the genetics team come back and tell me that my percentage is high, I will have options that could possibly save my life.
Linking up to Michelle's Reason To Be Cheerful