I was diagnosed with advanced stage 3C high-grade serous ovarian cancer in December 2020. The one thing I wish I knew about myself was that I carried the BReast CAncer genetic mutation, also known as BRCA-1.
The BRCA mutation has a 50% chance of being passed down by your mother and/or father. Cancer was not prevalent in my family that I was aware of, other than my father having prostate cancer and ultimately passing away from lung cancer in 2009. Who knew that prostate and ovarian cancer were closely related? I sure didn't!
I figured as long as I continued to stay healthy, workout and eat right, I would be good. I was wrong. By no means am I telling people to not take care of themselves cause either way you'll get cancer. No! I believe being healthy when I got cancer saved my life. What I am saying is, know what is lurking inside your body.
📷 Nov 2020 Month before my diagnosis
A few years ago my husband, Josh got us both 23 and Me DNA tests. I thought it was the coolest thing to see where my family came from, my health risks and that fun stuff. Nothing health wise on there really concerned other than celiac disease. I thought the reason I was having so many belly issues was due to gluten. Boy, was I wrong. Here's a snap shot of my results for the BRCA gene variant:
So according to this I had no reason to worry. Well, 23 and Me was not accurate. The BRCA gene mutation didn't just magically appear one day, I've had it my entire life. If that DNA tests told me I had the variant I would have immediately informed my doctor and got preventative recommendations.
My sister, Holly also carries the BRCA gene mutation. Luckily after I was diagnosed I was tested through a company called Invitae. They tested my kids and my sister for Free. The test normally cost $125 to order online. Pretty cheap considering it's your life. Both of my kids came back negative thankfully.
Having advanced stage ovarian cancer already gives me a high risk of cancer recurrence, 70-90% to be exact. That's the bad news. The good news is that having the BRCA gene can help gynecological oncologist better determine my course of treatment. BRCA mutations are sensitive to platinum compounds, which carboplatin chemotherapy contains, making it the go-to drug to kill the cancer cells. Along with all your hair too!
Here are a few statistics for Breast and Ovarian Cancer:
In addition, my type of ovarian cancer, high grade serous, and those with the BRCA mutation respond well to PARP inhibitors. These type of drugs help repair DNA when it becomes damaged. According to the Journal of Ovarian Research PARP reduces cancer recurrence 40-70% compared to the 70-90% without it.
The downfall of it is I can only take the medication for 2 years due to the side effects, it can cause leukemia. Which means next August 2023, I am back in the hands of God and fall back into that 70-90% recurrence rate.
I understand and accept the lifelong battle I will have with cancer. Right now I do what I can to prevent it from reoccurring. I get scanned every 6 months for breast cancer, I get bloodwork every other month, I take my PARP inhibitor daily and I do what I can to stay healthy and stress free.
What do I ask of all of you? Be a "Previvor"! Know your risk of cancer.
Get DNA genetic testing. Do your screenings. Know your family history of cancer.
📷 Me at my mammogram today, 28 Sept 2022