Statistics on cancer risks for those with defective BRCA genes are readily available, but teasing out numbers that assess any single individual’s risk is all but impossible. Science can provide a ballpark range, but there are many mitigating factors that can place one at the low end of the scale or all but guarantee that cancer will be headed your way.
The choice to select surgery as a means to manage cancer risk is insanely difficult for many people. Not for me. In some respects though, I do feel as if I’ve made a lousy bargain with the devil. I’m trading precious body parts for the hope of a normal lifespan. There are no guarantees, only a reduction in risk. I can still get breast or ovarian cancer even once all my girl parts are history. Other problems such as heart disease, osteoporosis and additional forms of cancer are very real possibilities when this “Year of Living Surgeries” is over. Apologies to that fabulous movie “The Year of Living Dangerously,” when Mel Gibson was just sexy, not crazy.
Are the BRCA surgeries worth it?
In my head is the idea for a novel based on this question. I hope it has a happy ending but I’m not going to wait around to see the results in my own life. In the short term I’ll write something else. Being worried about the future is not how I want to spend whatever time is left on my personal meter. Nor do I want to create a bucket list. Unless of course, it is what we call the “drink now bucket” around here. These are wines that have been aging in our cellar that need to be consumed before they pass prime drinking enjoyment.
In 1998 when I was first diagnosed with breast cancer and terrified that every tiny hiccup was a recurrence, my surgeon gave me a good piece of advice. “Go out and live your life” he said. That is what I’ve been doing for the past fourteen years.