Sunday, September 16, 2012

To BRAC or not to BRAC--That is the Question

To BRAC or not to BRAC.  That has been the question on my mind for several weeks now--well, actually ever since the test first surfaced several years ago.  Some people see it as a black or white issue.  "Absolutely BRAC! How can you not?"  Or, "Heck, no!  Why would you want to find out if you are going to have this possible traumatic diagnosis in your future?"  It would be like some black cloud hanging over your head for the next several decades.  I get it.  I get both sides.  It's the proverbial question, "Well wouldn't you want to know if... (and then fill in the blank here on any number of issues that the advancement of genetic and DNA testing now provide a sort of crystal ball for).

Or to quote my (and my mom's for that matter) gynecologist, "Knowledge is power!"  she had exclaimed in an incredulous tone two annual exams ago as she peered up at me from behind those narrow wire-framed glasses that always look as if they're about to slide right off the edge of her nose.  At the time I just smiled back, stood my ground (not really--I was sitting there with my sock covered feet dangling off the edge of the exam table--and wrapped the paper smock (that always makes me still feel half naked) a little tighter around me and responded, "I know.  But I'm not ready to go that route just yet."  Why?  You (and my doctor) most certainly wanted to ask?  Because!  I sound like my three year old right now.  Because of several reasons.  Do I believe that knowledge is power?  Absolutely!  I believe that half of our issues today as a nation exist primarily because the average American citizen (and yes, I am speaking to MY generation--generation X and Y!!) would rather watch Dancing With Stars, The Bachelor, or New Jersey Shore rather than the republican and democrat conventions.  They don't know the name of the prime minister of Israel, and yet they know the name of the guy Emily ended up with on The Bachelor, or that 'Snookie' just had a baby.  With every fiber of my being, I believe we could get our country back on the right track, simply if the majority of Americans KNEW what was going on in our country and abroad!  So, I whole heartily agree that knowledge is power! 

And while I can definitely see both sides of the argument, I tend to exist more in the grey on this issue.  Before I get started, I must give out the legal mumbo jumbo (which is going to feel like a pharmaceutical ad for a brief moment to which I apologize in advance).  This is not intended at all to be medical advice or to persuade your decision in any way.  Of course, always contact your physician, do your own research, and make your own decision based on what is best for you.  This blog is and always will be, based on personal opinions.  And, in the interest of full disclosure, personal opinions do vary even within this blog.  My sister had the BRAC test done at the advice of her physician--without any hesitation I might add.  Model patient as always.  And I envy those who are able to see things with such clarity. 

My decisions are perhaps a little more anxiety driven.  I know that.  And yet, I am the way I am.  What are the benefits to having the BRAC test done?  Where do I even begin?  Knowledge.  Answers.  Beautiful answers.  Perhaps even a chance to change your fate.  To quote the movie Brave which recently came out, "If you had a chance to change your fate, would 'ya?"  And there inlies your answer.  I know for those of you who have received a diagnosis, I'm sure you would give anything to have found out as soon as possible.  Early detection is the key.  And this test, puts a new spin on early detection.  It is the holy grail of early detection. So, I get it.  I definitely get it.  I understand why my sister had it done.  She is usually a lot smarter and wiser than I am, even though I am supposed to be the oldest.

Perhaps for me, it was more a question of "What will I do if the results come back positive?"  Will I have a double mastectomy to ensure that I never develop breast cancer? Will I change my diet drastically to cut out those foods I know are linked to breast cancer (yes, quick confession--I am a mouse, I love all bread, and I occasionally have been known to indulge in a chocolate chip cookie or two, or three).  Being the daughter of an early onset breast cancer survivor has made me more aware.  More conscious of the fact that cancer does not discriminate. I already try to eat healthfully, cut down on my sweets, carbs, cheese, etc.  As much as my low will power will allow.  Or will I have simply opened up for myself a sort of pandora's box full of worry and anxiety for Lord only knows how long? Yep.  That most certainly would be the result. 

For me the answer was more of a teetering on the edge, no.  A 'no, not this year' no.  Will I change my mind in the future about as many times as I do on every other issue in my life?  Probably.  Could I regret this in the future?  Absolutely!  Am I being stupid?  Maybe.  Do I think that the BRAC test is an amazing tool and resource in our fight against breast cancer?  Yes!  But ultimately, like everything, it is a personal decision.  One that should not be taken lightly.  Careful research and discussion with your family and your doctor should go into this. 

So what do you think of the BRAC test?  Have you or someone you know made the decision to have the BRAC test done?  Did you decide not to?  Would you like to share some insight with the rest of us?  We would love to hear your voice on this issue.  To post a comment, please click on the 'no comments', or '1 comment', etc., and you will be able post your comment there. We are working with our blog designer to correct this issue, but in the meantime, this is how we have to go about it.  We look forward to hearing from you!


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