While it's natural to wonder if you might have inherited an abnormal BRCA gene from one of your parents, it's also important to remember that the overwhelming majority of women with breast cancer have no family history of the disease. That's why genetic testing is recommended only for people whose family history or other factors suggest the presence of a gene mutation.
Men think it is weird when women go to the ladies' room in groups. Men may think it is even weirder that I go with two friends each year to get our mammograms. We call it the "MammoVan." Let me clarify -- the three of us travel together in one car but we have separate mammograms in consecutive appointments.
BRCA testing is done for people with a strong family history of breast or ovarian cancer. Last fall, one of my colleagues at BFFL CO discovered that she was BRCA positive. Her mother also tested positive. Naturally, they both had a number of questions for me and for their genetic counselor, so I decided to put together a checklist.
All of us have cancer narratives that shape our lives, and we have little choice about how those narratives begin. But we do have a choice about how we respond. We can control our own information, and we can make it public and accessible to everyone who is working towards a better future for us and our children.
Those of us who either opted to have mastectomies as a preventative measure, or had mastectomies as a life-saving measure, aren't excited about our "new boobs." In truth, we'll never be the same. We see ourselves differently now when we look in the mirror, because we are different, inside as well as outside.