I first wrote this on March 7, 2011, before i had been tested to see if I had a BRCA mutation. Life’s very different now, as is my mindset, but I thought it was worth starting at the beginning – or at least somewhere in the middle.
How I got here?
So the road to getting to this spot in my life, where I’m putting in the processes to find out if I have the BRCA gene, is a long and complicated one. But isn’t everyone’s? No one really gets up in the morning and has an innate fear about getting cancer unless there’s some other stuff going on.
Mine probably started when my mum contracted breast cancer at 43. I was 17. Mine and my family’s world was rocked. My mum on the other hand had an eerie inevitability and acceptance about the diagnosis. As though she always knew this day would come. Her own mum died at the rip old age of 53, and there were a couple of Aunty’s in this genetic cancer pot also. 3 years later, with a 2 year respite in between, she was dead. Ravaged by a cancer so aggressive it ran through her body like wildfire.
I’m sure I’ll talk about my wonderful, strong and vibrant mum about a million times in this blog, so forgive me for not covering everything about her here. I will, I promise. And will probably repeat it again and again further down the line.
So 10 years ago on 22nd January, the game of hide and seek I play with the dreaded C bomb began. Even though I didn’t admit it did. I refused to even talk about getting tested back then. I didn’t want a ‘life sentence’ hanging over me. Ironic really, because it has, and I’ve reacted accordingly. Running from my home town Cardiff in the cold South Wales (not the hot new one I live in now), I went to London to begin my journey of avoidance. lots of booze, a couple of eating disorders along the way, an obsession with exercise which remains, a lack of meaningful relationships with people who aren’t my friends, and friendships on my terms I guess? Almost 9 years after and it’s time to run, take two. This time to the other side of the world; Australia. Surely cancer can’t find me here.
At places during this time my mindset has shifted to this point today. I twice decided to speak to someone about getting tested. At the time I would never have contemplated taking the measures I’m contemplating today following a positive result, but I was curious. However, science or the UK health system wasn’t the same at the time and no one could really find anything without testing a living relative who had or was suffering with the disease. 3 years ago, maybe more, my uncle, my mother’s brother died of prostate cancer. With a positive test for carrying the BRCA gene I now have the knowledge needed to see if I too am a carrier.
And in a massively summarised version, this brings me to today and this blog. I have spent 10 years developing an exterior made of steel. Priding myself on this exterior. In hindsight I don’t think it’s done me any favours. But as I made the decision to start the process to find my ‘elephant in the room’ I have become a bit of an emotional wreck. The information I need to process is overwhelming and one curve ball of consideration after another keeps cropping up. So whether this helps at all, this is my current form of therapy. A journey of discovery in so many ways. For myself, my emotions, my knowledge, and my relationships.
My goal? It’s not to find the gene I don’t think. I think it’s to start living my life again. To enjoy, to stop putting everything off. To grow up and enjoy being an adult, without the fear of my life ending dramatically and suddenly. Who knows. I may find the opposite. Find the ‘elephant’. Reach my ‘inevitable’. But at least I will have tried. Tried to act on the knowledge I have. Stopped playing hide and seek with cancer.