Thank you for attending our genetics webinar. Below are questions that were submitted before and during the webinar. Some questions … Continue reading
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It’s June which means it’s Father’s Day and Men’s Health Month. My dad and I had a connection no child and parent should ever have.
In May of 2010 my life was changed forever when I was diagnosed with Triple Negative Breast Cancer in my right breast. Shock and anger. I had a lumpectomy followed by chemo and radiation. The chemo knocked me on my butt.
As if things couldn’t get any worse, a year later at my year-mark mammogram, I was diagnosed with Triple Negative Breast Cancer AGAIN. This time in my left breast and unrelated to my first diagnosis. More shock and anger. I had a double mastectomy followed by more chemo and radiation. The chemo knocked me on my butt again.
The following year my life was completely shattered when my dad told us HE had metastatic cancer. Turned out he had Triple Negative Breast Cancer too. Yes, my DAD! This time the shock and anger was much different. It was worse for me to hear my dad, who I was so close with, had cancer. And not just cancer, but Triple Negative Breast Cancer – the same exact kind I had, twice. Knowing what I had just gone through, I didn’t want my dad to have to face this. It was so hard for me to endure the chemo at 39 and 40 years old, so how would it be possible for my dad to handle the chemo in his 70s?
Unfortunately, it’s all too common to hear of female relatives – mother and daughter or sisters – sharing a breast cancer diagnosis, but FATHER and daughter? What perplexed the doctors even more was we were both BRCA negative. How could this be?
It’s hard going through cancer and chemo. It’s also hard knowing no one can truly relate to what you’re going through. I had pure empathy for my dad. One day when he was having a bad chemo day he said something to me I will never forget: “I knew you were sick when you were going through chemo, but never had any idea how bad it was. Now I know exactly what you went through. Now I understand.”
My favorite memories of my dad were seeing him enjoy his time with my kids, Lily, Zach and Emma. He was an amazing father who instilled so many values in me, and he was an equally amazing grandfather.
Rochelle and Sharsheret came into my life by luck. Sharsheret helped me when I went through my cancer journey, and now Sharsheret is helping me share my dad’s story and advocate for male breast cancer awareness.
This will be my second Father’s Day without my dad. It doesn’t get easier, but what I do know is we need to raise awareness and educate everyone NOT only about breast cancer, but also about MALE BREAST CANCER. Because, men have breasts too.
You can read more about Amy’s family’s story by clicking on the following links:
Click here to learn more about The Male Breast Cancer Coalition.
A diagnosis of ovarian cancer earlier this year was a life changing event. Fear, anxiety, sadness, body image issues, and short and long term effects of chemotherapy, only begin to touch on the myriad of worries which confronted me. Still, one of the most difficult things to deal with has been the not-so-surprising presence of a genetic predisposition (due to a BRCA2 mutation) to cancer. The thought that each of my four young adult children had a 50% chance of inheriting this gene was almost more than I could bear.
How does one deal with the guilt? How does one speak with her children about such an inheritance? Does one inform female and male children at the same time and in the same fashion? Does one give married and still unmarried children the same details? Does one advise her children to be tested as soon as possible? Will a positive BRCA2 test with all its implications interfere with a developing or even presently stable relationship? Can one avoid adding pressure to the lives of adult children when discussing the issues of marrying early and having babies as quickly as possible so that they may take advantage of risk reduction therapy at a young enough age to reduce the chances of ovarian cancer and breast cancer?
There are no standard answers to any of these questions; indeed the approach will surely differ for each family based on the individuals and the family dynamics. Several interactions have guided my thinking regarding these issues.
Firstly, I cannot say enough positive things about resources available through Sharsheret. Sharsheret’s genetic counselor made herself available to me within a few minutes of my initial call and kept closely in touch. She pointed out several important concepts to me, including the ideas that: 1) I am not the only source of information for my children; 2) Each individual on the receiving end of the information must decide for him or herself how to proceed; 3) All of the information does not have to be discussed in one sitting– indeed the important thing is to keep the lines of communication open; 4) Difficult as this discussion must be, knowledge is empowering as it allows positive actions to be taken.
Secondly, a wise and spiritual friend focused my attention on the positive implications associated with this difficult discussion, namely: truth, trust, potential for decreasing uncertainty, and potential for risk reduction actions.
Finally, one of my children, aware of the pending issue, asked me straight out about the results of my testing, before I was ready to have the big discussion. When I made the result known to her and spoke with her about some of my concerns, I was amazed at the strength she imparted to me by her personal views.
I have yet to work through all the details, but I have gained understanding through learning as much as possible about the implications of the BRCA gene mutation, and through speaking with wise and trusted professionals and friends.
Now is your opportunity to test your knowledge of genetics and your own risk on this interactive national webinar with Sharsheret’s Genetics … Continue reading →
I wished this story had been out there on two occasions: (1) before I began my in vitro fertilization (“IVF”) … Continue reading →
Alliance in Reconstructive Surgery (Airs) Foundation www.airsfoundation.org 866.376.6153 Are You Dense? www.areyoudense.org beBRCAware www.bebrcaware.com/ 800.236.9933 Breast360.org www.breast360.org Breastcancer.org www.breastcancer.org 610.642.6550 … Continue reading →
Join Sharsheret for our second annual discussion about how hereditary cancer risks affect men, cancers that are of particular concern … Continue reading →
Join Sharsheret for a discussion about how hereditary cancer risks affect men, cancers that are of particular concern (e.g. pancreatic, … Continue reading →