Jan is 62 years young She is a retired nurse and married to who she refers as the most wonderful man (lucky gal!!). They have 5 kids and 10 grandchildren.Written by Jan Price
No one knows what their life will be in 10 years, 5 years , 2 years or tomorrow. My story is not unique to those with a BRCA gene mutation, but I will tell it anyway...because so many can be saved by the knowledge.
Ovarian cancer is one of the leading causes of cancer related death in women in the United States. Why? Because the signs and symptoms are so vague. Abdominal pressure, feeling a fullness,swelling or bloating, pelvic discomfort, persistent indigestion ,changes in bowel or bladder habits, loss of appetite, low back pain, and a persistent lack of energy. All of these symptoms could simple be reasoned away.
My name is Jan, but it could be Sarah, or Joe. I could be anyone..anyone with the risk of a genetic mutation.
I was well past menopause and had some slight vaginal bleeding and I was feeling overly tired. I contacted a Gynecologist, had several appointments even, however she dismissed my symptoms. After many more visits, I insisted on a hysterectomy.
It was at that time when this surgical team found my left ovarian tubular cancer and it was stage 3. For those who do not understand stages,(and I did not at that time), and in the easiest way to describe it is that the area of cancer has spread outside the pelvis to the lining of the abdomen.
Many surgical procedures later it was time for chemotherapy. For ovarian cancer they utilize both IV chemo as well as abdominal chemotherapy washing. A port is inserted for the washing and in my case my bowel was punctured.
Another surgery was performed to repair the punctured bowel and several weeks of IV antibiotics in the Intensive Care unit to now save my life.
IV chemotherapy started again and I found myself, as others do, extremely sick. By the second treatment I knew something was very wrong when my throat was very scratchy. I called the fellow who was covering that night and was told just to take some antihistamine. I drove to the ER where they admitted me and sent me to see if I had had an allergic reaction to my chemotherapy, which I did.
Later I found out that many stop their treatment because they are so sick with this reaction that they stop the treatment.
I did my follow up mammogram about 6 months after my initial recovery from ovarian cancer. The radiologist called me the next day...something did not appear right. So I returned for another look.
This wonderful doctor suspected cancer and a biopsy was performed that same day which ended up being positive. I asked for both breasts to be examined by bilateral MRI. That was also positive.
I returned to my original Oncologist in Boston at Beth Israel where they performed the BRCA gene test which was positive. I have the BRCA 2 gene. Oh my God..I could pass this to my kids. And, although I only have sons, men have the risk for not only carrying the genetic mutation, but for developing breast cancer, pancreatic cancer, testicular cancer, skin cancer and more. And because I have grandchildren they have been or are in the process of being tested. So far two are negative and we are awaiting the third test results any day now.
Now it was my choice of treatment. After reading all the literature deciding on a bilateral mastectomy was easy. Lumpectomy was not an option because your risk of breast cancer returning is equally as high.
BRCA genetic mutation can kill and I was not ready to die.
Sure, life can still be wonderful even through the baldness, pain, and fear. It gets better so hang in.
I tell my story now so that no one has to die before their time.
Remember it is your body and when you think there is the slightest change, take care.
Life is good..Get your mammograms and don't ignore symptoms.
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