Tuesday, June 6, 2006

Borrowed Time

I may have mentioned in the past that I lost my mother to breast cancer when I was 18. She, in turn lost her mother to breast cancer at age 13. I have lived my whole life -or at least, since I finally understood that my mother was losing the fight, at around age 17, waiting for the day that I would be diagnosed with it, myself.

Because losing my mother affected our family as much as you'd expect it to, my father worries about me. He's shown me magazine articles about tamoxifen, and asks about my gynecological health, which, honestly, I don't want to discuss with him. At all. I, in turn, have discussed these things with my doctor, and she and I have talked about what she thinks is best for my health. Of course, losing a significant amount of weight is always mentioned, but other changes that I'm supposed to make have been done, and I'm pretty satisfied that we're doing all that we can be doing. At least, now that I've quit smoking (14 months ago, already?) I'm satisfied.

Dad, however, was not. He continued to nag me about not taking any pills that could prevent breast cancer. He wanted to know why I hadn't taken the test to determine if I had the "breast cancer gene". It was an odd amount of nagging, considering that he's usually so very non-invasive that he knows nothing about my dating life, and I live with him. He's not usually the type to pry.

So there I was, home in the morning, because I'd taken a personal day for my OBGYN appointment (you never know how long you're going to sit in that office), and there's my dad, asking when I'm going to get that genetic test. So finally, I gave in. It was a scary big deal, because I didn't want to know. I wanted to both assume that I had it, and assume that I didn't, because it's just something else that could be wrong with me, and my goodness, I've already got Enough wrong with me. I found out that the test costs 4 thousand dollars, and managed to stipulate that if my insurance wouldn't pay for it, then the whole thing was cancelled. I'm not tossing away the price of a European cruise on a test I don't want in the first place.

Well, my insurance company did indeed pay for it, which was shock enough, but not nearly the kind of shock as when my doctor called to tell me that the test came back negative. No mutations, she said. I was too stunned to really react in any kind of way. I'm sure I said thank you for the good news, and I agreed that I understand that this doesn't mean that I *won't* get cancer, but the rest is a little blurry.

I don't have that gene. I feel oddly as if I've been redefined.

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