So basically it had never occurred to me to be tested before. It had never been in my knowledge to be, you know, know what BRCA is. There isn’t anybody on either side of my family that has been unwell with cancer, let alone breast cancer, that we knew of. It was actually quite rare. My situation’s quite rare. Usually it runs, if it runs in family and people are aware. It didn’t happen in my case.
So, after all my chemo it was suggested to me, that, by my surgeon that I be tested for BRCA, because and we were like, well why? And he told us his feelings. And my mum at the time said, “You know what Michelle, you’re not going to have this thing, because nobody’s unwell. No one’s got it. No one’s had cancer. It’s not going to happen. Rule it out, get the test.”
I didn’t have counselling which was wrong. I didn’t have the proper… because we were so… It was such a rare situation that there’s no one else that’s got breast cancer. It was like a no brainer. Of course you’re not going to have this thing - that we didn’t even know what it was. Go and have tests.
So I went and had the test, quite flippantly, while I was having my chemotherapy they took extra blood and they just sent it off to be analysed. And unbelievably it came back that I have the mutation on the BRCA 2 gene which was a huge shock, a huge shock. And the repercussions are obviously huge. But it meant obviously that one of my parents carried the gene. It’s a 50/50 chance that you can get the gene from one of your parents. And initially my mother was you know, really concerned and worried that it was her. And that she’d carried this thing, and obviously it hadn’t come out in her, or in her mother and so forth. And so she had the test straight away and it wasn’t her. Which meant it must have been my father, who subsequently he had a test and it was proven, yes he carries the BRCA 2 gene. He’s 64/65, never been ill. His parents, although they’re not alive, did not have cancer in their lifetime. They both died of heart related illnesses. And we were trying desperately to track this back.
We now think, that, because my father was an only child, possibly his father carried the gene and his father’s sisters, we now know in Canada somebody had breast cancer. But it’s not close, and well it’s close, but it’s not obvious. In most people that I’ve met since, their mother or their aunt, or they’ve all had breast cancer. Because no one had, it was more of shock in my case. But that’s how it came to pass that I found I had BRCA 2.
Okay. Thank you for that. Can I ask, when you said that consultant delayed mentioning that you carried the gene, do you think that was the right decision for him to make at the time?
I’ve thought about this question a lot since. Now, I do believe... I’m sitting somewhere, there’s a good for and against on this one. I think when you’re first diagnosed with something like breast cancer, your whole world is literally pulled from under you. Everything is upside down. If I would have had family that had been unwell, I might have been more aware a) of breast cancer and b) that it runs in families. Therefore if that would have been me, which actually is most people then I think yes, I think he should say as it runs in your family, I think we should test your for this, because you will then have more choices. And the choices are that we could prevent you ever from having any other cancers by removing your other breast if you want - you have choices, you are aware of your choices and over your ovaries because BRCA is connected to your ovaries as wel