And the Answer Is In

The phone rang promptly at 8 a.m. this morning and, still clad in my pajamas and robe, I noted the caller ID on the screen and knew the answer I’d been waiting for was on the other end of the line.

I let the phone ring a third time so I could acknowledge the moment I was in.  The next moment, when I picked up the phone, would change my future one way or the other.

Mercifully, the answer I got from the genetic counselor was the one I’d been hoping for.

Of the 17 genes tested from my blood sample, none showed a mutation related to breast cancer.  Not BRCA 1 or 2, not PALB2, not BRIP1, nor any of the remaining genes, too many to be named here, that increase the risk.

If you saw me today, you might have said that I stood a little straighter, breathed a little deeper, and felt a little lighter.  You often don’t realize how heavy a burden is until you can put it down.


10 Responses to “And the Answer Is In”

  1. Dee Freeman Says:

    This is great news, for you and your off spring. Call or text if you ver get a moment. Fill me in on Ohio, school, etc.

    Sent from my iPad


    • Julie Yamamoto Says:

      It is good to know the kids don’t have this particular worry. I’m perturbed, though, that the general message society gets is that the gene comes down only through the mother’s side and affects only females. A pattern of breast, ovarian, or prostate cancer on either side is to be noted. An acquaintance of mine actually traced her pattern back through her dad’s side of the family through instances of prostate cancer. Her dad, interestingly, later developed breast cancer.

      Because I don’t have the gene, the guideline for my daughter is to start screening with mammography at an age 10 years before I was diagnosed — for her, 38. Not much sooner than the current guideline (depending on which agency you listen to) of starting screening at 40 for someone with no real risk factors. (That decade between 40 and 50 seems to be an area of contention for screening.) If I’d had the gene, they would start screening her earlier. For my son, they would screen at the age of 35.

      Interesting intricacies you learn about when you poke around in this stuff….

  2. Ellen Says:

    Whoo-hoo!! Huzzah!! Hooray!! Yay!!

  3. Sue Rickels Says:

    Yes indeed. You said two things that resonated well–the insight, the good writing expressing a universal way of responding for lots of us. First, you waited to the third ring to be sure you were fully engaged/present in the moment for whatever the doctor said. I do that on such rare occasions–death messages being one. Just get deep inside yourself to experience it at the level such information deserves.

    And, great information.

    The last sentence is perfect, and I’d never quite thought of such things expressed the way you did. “you often don’t know how heavy a burden is until you can put it down.” Perfect.
    Now your breathing and posture are better…that burden is down for you and your whole family, including the males. I hear that with this genetic marker, men have a higher risk of male breast cancer. (I do know a male who died from breast cancer. He was a retired San Antonio DA and later District Judge. Very tough, smart, masculine. His daughters made him…took persuasion over time I hear…go public with it. They got him past that male ego to let other men know that it’s possible and a prominent, totally manly San Antonio icon had it, and it was in his obituary). So your whole family can breathe better today.

    Well, I have 4 friends in the storm. Nashville, NYC, Fredericksburg VA, even MS has some of it. Sunny and chilly…beautiful here today. Whatever the weather in Olympia today, the sun is shining on you. Hope Naomi is coping with all that Midwest cold this year. She young, resilient, loving school–that makes a difference.

    Much gratitude for this good report, go get a popsicle!

    • Julie Yamamoto Says:

      Actually, I waited for that third ring thinking, “If it turns out I have the gene, this is my last moment to enjoy the freedom of possibility.”

      Men are indeed affected by the gene, not so much with breast cancer but with prostate. The media still paint the picture of it all coming down through the female lines and affecting only females, but that’s just not true. It’s pretty clear that we’re going the way of the fish whose reproductive systems go haywire as a reflection of the damage done to our environment. It’s not just the fish any more!

      I’m still trying to reconcile to the fact that scientists like Rachel Carson, who died of breast cancer, called out the damage to our environment a long time ago, even before I was born. So cancer in people in my generation are the recipients of dangers we had no control over. Maybe we’re more aware of the dangers of polluting our spaces now, but we’re not getting better at keeping them from contamination. The best we can do is be aware and try to keep our children in a healthier environment.

      The result of the genetic test confirms for me that what instigated my cancer was likely a cumulative insult from various chemical toxins, ones that I was exposed to or ingested without knowing the dangers at the time. This is what happens in the era of “better living through chemistry.”

  4. Pam Sowers Says:

    So happy for you!

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