Updated: Jan 19
Settling in a new place is never easy. When I came to this new city, one of my priorities was to get genetic testing done for the BCRA genes. I knew if I had the opportunity to, I wanted to know if there was a chance I would get breast cancer and if I could do something about it early. Going through the process was quite straight forward, but when I was in those moments and in that chair... it was a whirlwind of emotions.
Leading up to the genetic testing date I was very nervous to the point I would numb my emotions out. Simply stepping foot in the Cancer Center was so ominous to me. Sitting in the waiting area you feel like the black sheep. I was probably the youngest patient waiting to be seen and sure enough, I had some looks from others likely wondering why I was there.
Image above: Distress survey given to me during the wait. Nice to know they think about these things, but it did make me feel slightly more distressed.
This genetic counselling was in fact, not my first. My sister and I had a partial counselling session when we were teens, a few years after Mom had past. There was not much I can remember flashing back to that memory other than feeling very sad, scared, and seeing a pedigree of my Mom's family chain. My Mom was a sister to four brothers. I can still imagine the puzzled and empathetic look on the genetic counsellors face.
Now going through the pedigree again, the memory seemed a lot more lighthearted. Again, with the puzzled look on the counsellor's face after learning my Mom was the only female offspring in her family. Grandma, Mom's mom, had no history of breast cancer. The counsellor talked about different genes, of course, BCRA genes being the most studied and likely to show breast cancer risk. Lots of logistics was gone over and by the end she asked me: "You okay with going through with this?" and I said: "Yes." The moment when blood was drawn and I sat in my car, I started to wonder if I had made the right decision.
For those of you that have done any genetic testing, it is quite an eye-opening moment when you realize that this information can potentially change the course of your life. Knowing whether or not you will likely be ill from a condition can really change your perspective and decisions on what is to come. I was freaking out. Thoughts and worries rushed through me during the drive back home and I cried. I had no idea what I was doing at that moment and I wondered why I was even in this new city.