My mother was diagnosed with breast cancer when I was about 16 years old.
She died when I was 17.
She hid the lump from us (and herself) for who knows how long. And I’m sure the pack a day of Luckies didn’t help either.
She refused aggressive treatment because she didn’t want to lose her beauty.
She made choices.
Poor choices that killed her, but choices nonetheless.
It was her choice to refuse more chemo, to refuse the mastectomy, to refuse more radiation. It was her choice to give up the fight. I wish to whatever guides us that she made different choices. But I was too young and naive to know what the hell was going on to even suggest she fight. For me if not for herself.
I have a choice too.
And I have started to think pro actively for the first time ever. I have begun to give myself (almost) monthly breast exams. I can go for my yearly mammograms and OB/GYN visits. I can try to eat healthy and exercise. And I try.
I am getting a polyp removed next month.
Before I became a mother, I did some of these things regardless of the outcome. And I also used to say, when I got breast cancer, I would not fight. I had nothing to live for anyway. I was weak and motherless…what did I know?
However, since I now have a daughter, I think harder about my choices. Especially choices regarding my health.
And I think about all the mothers out there with this disease who are fighting every day for more time. I would fight like nobody’s business, I do not want my daughter to be motherless.
Since my mother died from breast cancer and my grandmother (her mother) died from another women’s cancer, I fear. I fear that I will get it too. It is on my mind 24 hours a day. All year long. And I worry. And I worry for my daughter’s future too…is this our genetic destiny?
But I also have a choice to go for genetic testing to see if I am a carrier of this disease. And that choice I can not quite make.
What do you do with this information once you have it? If you are a carrier, are there steps to take to avoid the disease or is it an automatic life sentence? Does your insurance drop you once you find out that you may be costing them billions to treat a disease that you may get?
On the other hand,
If you aren’t a carrier, does that guarantee that you won’t get it at all? Does this pave the way for false hope?
I can’t decide if it pays to know, or if knowing will make me worry even more than I do now.
A choice should be made, for my daughter. For my own sanity (whatever there is left of that).
But like my mother, I find it hard to really want to know the truth. Denial is our middle name.
What would you do?