Tuesday, October 27, 2015


This may be a heavy topic for my blog.  But lately, I far too often think, "Oh, I sorta want to write about this- oh, but no!  It's weird to write that on my blog- Therefore, I haven't really written much recently.  But it is my blog.  And writing here sorta helps me think through things, and it's also is a recorded history for me.  So here goes.

At the beginning of the month, there was a little segment on Good Morning America that I happened to see about not just Breast Cancer Awareness month, but also something about Angelina Jolie and her experience with the BRCA I and BRCA II genetic test.  I had heard about all of it before.  Since my mom died of ovarian cancer, and her mom (a.k.a. my maternal grandmother) had breast cancer, my doctor and I had already spoken years ago about the possibility of me getting the BRCA I and II screening done.  At the time, I wasn't ready.  I figured that if I had positive results of some mutation, I would need to act upon the results, and it just seemed too stressful- and scary- at the time.

But for whatever reason, that morning, at the start of the month, while watching GMA, it seemed too stressful NOT to get the testing done.

So I went in to my gynecologist and she ordered the BRCA testing for me and took the blood sample.

Then today, I got a call from the doctor's nurse saying my insurance company requires that I do genetic counseling prior to getting my results.  Genetic counseling?!  I'm not even sure what that means.  Is it just to make sure the patient is prepared for whatever results the tests spit out? Regardless of what it is, I have to do it if I want my insurance to cover my costs.

The nurse told me I could either schedule an appointment with a genetic counselor in person, or I could do it online and on a phone call.  Of course I opted for the online and phone call route.

I just filled out the online portion of my family history.  And how odd that was!

I, of course, know all about when Mom got ovarian cancer, the treatment she had, the age she got it and the age she was when she died. It wasn't that long ago, and I was there for all of it.  It got a little trickier when I answered the questions regarding my grandmother.  I was a kid, so she seemed "old"- But I don't really know what her age was at the time, so I just took a guess. Also, I know she had a mastectomy but I have no idea if she had radiation or any other treatment.  I just remember going bra shopping with her and mom so she could get a special bra with a little bean bag-like thing to put in one side of her bra. I also remember swimming at her pool- Swimming a side stroke was part of her recovery after her surgery.  I was around 8 years old, so that's about as deep as it goes for me regarding my grandmother's breast cancer.

The online questionnaire went on to ask about all the obvious branches in a family tree.  Because my tree is not only small, but also disjointed, I realized I had very little information, and there's really no one I can ask at this point.
But I probably know the most important things- I know everything about Mom, and at least little about my grandmother.  It did make me wonder though, is it weird that I know so little history about my family tree?


1 comment:

Valerie said...

Hi Kerri--sorry I'm so late in reading this! I don't think it's unusual at all. This is probably something your family just didn't talk about. When my mom's mom was still living, we'd try to ask about her past but for whatever reason, she never wanted to talk about it. We don't know if her past was painful or if she just wasn't interested. My grandfather, on the other hand, loved to tell his old stories, so we know much more about his life and history. Also, I think it's one thing to know your family's history, but quite another to know their health history. Even today, when I go to the eye doctor, they ask if anyone in my family has/had glaucoma. I know my dad's eyes are being treated for something but I can never remember if it's glaucoma or cataracts, so I end up saying I"m not sure. (After this last time, I confirmed that it was cataracts--I just have to commit it to memory for the next time they ask me.)