September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The last week of September is appropriately Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer Month for those of us with one of ‘the genes’ that marks our life story and gives us the fear of an early expiration date.
I carry the BRCA1 gene for breast and ovarian cancer. I had breast cancer in 2013, which led to a year of treatment including chemotherapy and a lot of surgeries. You can read more about my story in Breast Cancer BRCA Update from Dr. Bailey. Now it’s the 5 year waiting game to see if my treatments stick or if I’m going to relive the despair, grief, hope, and fear of a ‘short expiration date’ that comes with relapsed cancer.
Until I was diagnosed with cancer I did not know that I had the BRCA gene. This gene gives an almost guaranteed risk of getting breast or ovarian cancer for women. It turns out my maternal grandmother likely died of ovarian cancer, and not the colon cancer that was diagnosed back then. My mom also got breast cancer – twice. Still, the gene discovery came with my cancer and not before. As you may imagine, I have a lot of mixed feelings about being the one that had to tell my family that we carry this gene.