And the results are in
My sister and I are polar opposites- to the extreme. We do not look a like, talk a like, have different career paths, passions, and we just see the world differently. However, even with our many differences, my sister is one of my closest friends and I am so lucky to have her in this world.
With that being said, it was imperative to me that she also be tested for the BRCA gene. Being that she is 3 years older than I am, I was just so concerned for her health and the thought of losing another woman in my family was/is just devastating. Lesley did make the choice to test recently and I am so happy, proud, and ecstatic to say she is NEGATIVE for the mutation!
I begged my sister Lesley, now 29, to get tested for years. She and I are in very different places in our lives and this was something she was just not ready for until just a couple months ago. I even forced Lesley to watch the movie “In the Family” and while that did help her, it was not the tipping point. Everyone has that “tipping point” moment that makes them more ready than the day before. For Lesley, I think it was just a lot of upcoming changes in her life.
Once Lesley had health insurance, she really started to think about testing and researching a little more. She had just assumed we would all get cancer anyways which is how many people feel after watching a family lose their battle with cancer. However, that is just no way to live. A positive test result, I assured her, could not be worse then ASSUMING death and letting it happen. Lesley started to investigate genetic counselors in Savannah, GA (where she was temporarily residing before full time graduate school in the fall) that she could speak with. I also had her talk with a couple different genetic counselors in DC where I currently reside.
Before she tested
I sent Lesley ALL of my results. The first thing I sent her was the positive result from Myriad. I wanted her to see what it said at the bottom under the “what this means section” because this was the most shocking part to me when I got my test results back. I also had two other reports from two separate appointments: one with a genetic counselor and oncologist at Suburban Hospital/NIH and the other was a second opinion from Johns Hopkins. I had both of these appointments after the knowledge of my BRCA status so they were very detailed as to recommendations, etc.
I still encouraged Lesley to see a genetic counselor first but with all the information I sent, and being the independent woman that she is, she opted to go the route that I did and forgo the genetic counseling appointment until knowing her results. Pories women are very stubborn and mostly just impatient so it made sense for Lesley to go through her OBGYN who she had formed a good relationship with. They drew the blood right there at her OBGYN office and this was actually the most cost effective way for her to get the test run.
How I feel about her results and her not having BRCA
I didn’t tell Lesley this before, but I thought she was going to be positive- that was just the worst feeling in the world. My husband actually thought she would be negative, only because we really do look and act so differently, so he was not surprised one bit when I told him her results were in and that she did not have the BRCA mutation. I guess I just thought she would be positive because she looks so much like our mother. Let me just say that looks HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH IT but I just had that awful feeling in my stomach.
When she told me the results were in, I was so happy for her and more relieved than anything. I think some people would be jealous and maybe angry towards their sister but I am neither of those things now and don’t plan to be in the future. Maybe once I get my new set of breasts she will be jealous of me =) But in all honesty, no family wants to see anyone have to deal with anything like this. However, I would rather only one of us have it than both of us and where we are in our lives it actually makes the most sense that I am the one that is positive. This is mainly because I am married and can plan when to have children a little better. Lesley is older, she is not married, she is just about to start school fulltime and to throw on top of that finding a husband, popping out some babies real quick and then all the surgery considerations- there just wouldn’t even be much time to process which everyone needs. So in a way I did get the bad end of the deal but I am ready for the decisions that need to be made. If the coin was flipped and I was negative and Lesley was positive, I would feel an immense amount of guilt because I am more prepared for these things so, for us, it all worked out for the best. It doesn’t always, but it did for us.
Lesley is still considered “high-risk” and is ready, and willing, to do all the necessary screening for high-risk women. In the fall she will be attending two amazing masters programs getting a dual degree in Urban Planning from UNC Chapel Hill and a degree the Tufts Fletcher School of Government focusing on International relations. (I have a very smart sister).
I will speak for Lesley when I say that she is so glad that she went through with the BRCA testing and is now prepared for whatever life bestows upon her.