The idea of having children becomes less appealing when you find out there is a 50/50 chance that either parent could pass the genetic mutation on to their child. But since I’m 33 I asked, “How long can I wait on that?”
Wilson said she had discussed my case with a reputable colleague in Europe. Their recommendation, being that I haven’t had children, was that I delay the surgery.
Three other doctors have agreed. Months have passed since that day, but it continues to haunt me. The genetic mutation has been on my mind throughout my breast cancer treatment: chemotherapy, a bilateral mastectomy and now radiation therapy. I have a week left of radiation. Hormone therapy and breast reconstruction are next.
The past few days I have been experiencing pain due to inflammation of the radiated scar tissue near the breast implant. On the surface, the radiated skin is beginning to look like roast chicken and I have a skin rupture the size of two coins under the left arm.
The treatments have focused for months on damaging my cells, both the cancerous ones and the healthy ones. The fear: What if some of the damage, which my genes are unable to repair, leads to a secondary cancer? Doctors at the University of Miami Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center have assured me the fear is unfounded.
The thought of having to go through any of this again is terrifying.
“The word chemo makes me panic,” I said in a text message to my friend Michael Maryanoff, a cancer patient in his 20s, who is undergoing chemotherapy.
“Yeah, I know the feeling You could be dead, and you are not. Not just could, but should,” he said in a following message. “We aren’t supposed to be here. Every day is extra.”
Part 8: Facing my fears after mastectomy
Part 11: Radiation therapy gives her hope
Part 12: Finding strength from others
Part 14: A new outlook on 2012