In 2013, I learned I was a carrier of BRCA1 faulty gene mutation of 5382insc, placing me at a high risk for breast, ovarian, uterine and pancreatic cancer. After letting this devastating blow set in, I began taking steps to ward off cancer including having both ovaries and uterus removed and placed on a high risk observation program for breast cancer, rotating between MRIS and Mammograms every six months.In early December of 2014, I went in for my routine screening for cancer when I learned my breast care doctor has taken an unexpected leave and not returning. I would need to locate a new doctor for treatment.Four months later, On April 23, 2014, my breast care specialist doctor, Dr. Corgan, died of breast cancer herself… in her 40’s of the very disease she was protecting me from. It was a bit too ironic, what are the chances of me being a carrier for BRCA one gene mutation and my own breast care doctor dying of breast cancer herself in her 40s. Her death was the nudge I needed to move forward with surgery to ward off breast cancer.I heard about Emory Winship Cancer Institute through a radio ad and began interviewing new doctors; My new doctor was fantastic and I trusted him instantly; we began working closely together for the next steps on my mastectomy; It would be a series of three surgeries, with the first one lasting about four hours. We decided to schedule the first surgery in November, and I would use the upcoming months to prepare for the invasive procedures.With the first surgery four hours long, I became hyper-focused on building up my lung capacity and decided becoming a serious runner would be the best path forward. I hired a running coach to help me with form and worked with a personal trainer to help me get in the best shape possible. I have not stopped running since.
What is a BRCA Gene
BRCA1 and BRCA2 are human genes that produce tumor suppressor proteins. These proteins help repair damaged DNA and, therefore, play a role in ensuring the stability of each cell’s genetic material. When either of these genes is mutated, or altered, such that its protein product is not made or does not function correctly, DNA damage may not be repaired properly. As a result, cells are more likely to develop additional genetic alterations that can lead to cancer.People who have inherited mutations in BRCA1 and BRCA2 tend to develop breast and ovarian cancers at younger ages than people who do not have these mutations.For those of an Ashkenazi Jewish descent like me, our risk is 10X more likely than others to have this gene.Having a BRCA gene mutation is rare; According to Susan G Komen, less than 1% of our population has it.
The BRCA gene is need of serious rebranding. Yes, the faulty BRCA impacts women, but it affects men too. The implications to my two boys if they inherited the gene will result in a much higher risk of developing male breast cancer, pancreatic cancer and a more aggressive prostate cancer.. and because of this, I am a huge supporter of companies that can help guide our medical community into precision medicine such as 23andMe and Myriad Genetics. Movember shared a study that ovarian cancer drug may help with prostate cancer.