September 13, 2013

Cancer Prevention

My birthday was last week, and as we were deciding how to celebrate, Joe and I were straining to think of what we did last year for my birthday.  We were both drawing a blank.  Oh, yeah.  We were debating whether or not to have all of my girlie parts removed if my genetic test came back positive for the BRCA2 gene.

My dad was here for my birthday last year and we all just sat around depressed and tense waiting for the call.  We had recently found out that several members of my gene pool had tested positive for the genetic mutation that increases one's likelihood of all kinds of feminine cancers to something like 80%.  Because it made it so far down the family blood line, I had a 50/50 chance of having it.  Not my favorite odds.  We spent weeks up late at night crying and deciding what we would do if the tests came back positive.  We were pretty set on just removing ovaries and breasts and anything else that might up my chances of having more years with the family.  Thankfully, the test came back negative.  My dad burst out crying with relief and left the room while the kids, who we had kept all of the drama from, were asking why Pa was so upset.  It was big.  

So it was really great, just a week after this birthday, the one year anniversary of not having the cancer gene, to get to participate in the Cancer Prevention Study 3.  With family members who didn't win the 50/50 coin toss and dear friends who have recently fought and won their own battles with cancer, it was an honor to have some way to help.  I am a big chicken with needles and I have never willingly parted with any blood, but this seemed like the right time to get over myself.

The kids came with me and I was sweating and dizzy and generally flipped out over the 4 tubes of blood they were going to take, and Haven kept rubbing my back asking, "Why are you letting them have your blood if you are scared?"  It felt good to have such a real and obvious reason to talk to him about how we can help even perfect strangers, even when we're scared.  

Hannah Jane stayed right with me while I did breathing exercises like I was in labor as the woman changed out tubes on the needle.  The woman said, "Do you know why your mom is doing this?"  Hannah Jane eloquently explained how we can all help get rid of cancer, but how she was really glad that she's not old enough to participate because she would want to and at the same time really not want to.  The woman added, "I'll bet she's doing it for you, too.  What we learn about cancer now will help you and your kids too!"

It was all very emotional and I'm so glad I did it.  I totally want you to have a chance to do it too, and it's not too late.  Go here and see how you can get involved in your area.  You can give blood, pass out cookies to people like me who try to pass out, or just help by sharing this with other people who might want to get involved.   It's the best way I can think of to help the fight against cancer.  Plus, you get a cookie and a juice box like it's kindergarten snack break.  It will make you feel young again!  Go for it!


  1. I remember those cancer posts and was so relieved of the results, too... it's hard to believe it's been a full year. How wonderful to give back this year - good for you! My husband religiously gives blood and I do when I can (hard when breastfeeding or pregnant... but I should get into it again!) but I'd never heard of this research for cancer! Go figure. I'll have to find out how to participate in Australia. Thanks for posting :-)

    1. Chelsea, I wonder if there's an Aussie equivalent. This was through the American Cancer Society, so my guess is that their reach doesn't quite make it to your area.

      I should totally give blood, but I'm just barely over running in the opposite direction so this was BIG for me. In high school, I passed out in the hall when I heard there was a blood drive going on in the library. LOL! I've come a long way!


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