There has been a lot of talk (research published has spurred some conversation in Facebook groups that I belong to) about whether BRCA2+ women should be screened for pancreatic cancer. Up until recently, it was thought that BRCA2+ women should worry about breasts and ovaries, while BRCA2+ men should worry about prostate and pancreatic cancers (among others). My father’s brother, who was BRCA2+ like my father and like me, died from pancreatic cancer five years ago – he wasn’t yet 60 years old. A friend of mine from my FORCE group has had a lot of family die from pancreatic cancer. She and I have talked about these research developments a lot – well, not so much talked, just sort of mumbled, “are you gonna get checked” and then whined in reply, “I don’t want to get checked.”
I confess I’m the one whining in that “conversation.” Why? Because 2013 was my year – that was my year to get this all done. I had the mastectomy, the hysterectomy and BSO, and the breast revision. I started in January and finished in December. See there – I said “finished.” Because I don’t want to do this anymore. This past January – the 2014 January, I was supposed to see my breast surgeon for an exam. I’m supposed to do that every year. But I didn’t because I am finished. And yes, the part of me with a brain knows how stupid that is, but the part of me that felt the exhaustive weight of impending cancer for 30some years feels like I deserve a year off. I deserve this year – 2014 – to not have to be examined.
And even though I did have a check by my gynecologist and a pelvic ultrasound in June (this was because I was having actual pain, which turned out to be nothing – as in – it’s pretty weird to get an ultrasound and see nothing, emptiness, zippo, in a space where you not only once could see organs, but also once saw your baby) I am determined to make it through the rest of this year – 65 more days – without being scanned or tested or evaluated for something BRCA related.
As it turns out though, I’ll be back at it full force in 2015. I’ll get to have that breast exam for sure. And I’ll get to look into a cardiologist to start monitoring my heart. Not only do I have heart risks because of my RA, but I learned at our FORCE meeting on Saturday that because I had my ovaries removed at such a young age, my heart disease risk is particularly high due to surgical menopause. And lest I forget, I’ll be getting that pancreas checked, with a big ole dose of whine included.