BRCA1 and My Favorite Martian

In the fractured landscape of today’s television show offerings, the goofy shows from my childhood seem even sillier now then when Mom and Dad’s 19-inch black-and-white TV offered up reruns of The Beverly Hillbillies, Mr. Ed, The Flying Nun, and My Favorite Martian.

When I learned that a tiny fraction of my genetic code had gone awry, it felt like I’d discovered the Martians had indeed landed after all. They came into this world alive in my body, along with yours truly, in the late summer of 1961. Just like in that old television show, the alien was adept at blending in and remained hidden among us Earthlings.

It would take fifty years before I met my own personal Martian.

My Martian is named D1692H and he is a lazy turd. He inhabits a gene we now call BRCA1. That slacker piece of mutated genetic code, D1692H, is why at age 36, I had early-onset breast cancer. I am peeved at him, to put it mildly.

Through dumb luck, good karma or the deity of your choice (none for me, thanks) I am still here and am cancer-free, at this moment. All praise the Flying Spaghetti Monster. OK, so I guess I could learn to worship his noodly appendage, but that is as close to religion as I get.

I have a few things to say about the topic of hereditary breast and ovarian cancer syndrome. If you do not wish to tune into this version of My Favorite Martian, that’s fine. Unlike most of what my writing life has been about, this topic is for me. I hope you will indulge this whim and watch the show.


Ray Walston as “My Favorite Martian” long before he tussled with Sean Penn in 1982’s “Fast Times at Ridgemont High.”


This entry was posted in Cancer.

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