The Cause

The Next Family

By Tanya Dodd-Hise

It is very odd to lie flat on my back these days.  If I do, and I put my hands behind my head, then it makes the tumor in my breast very prominent and noticeable, even if just to me.  It is fairly large in size, so whenever I lay down, it is a constant reminder of what lies just beneath the surface.  Do you know how strange it is to walk around knowing that there is this thing with me, all the time, that I can touch and feel…a thing that has the potential to kill me?  I will tell you.  It is the most peculiar, uncomfortable, uneasy feeling that I have ever had in my life.  EVER.

As the days pass by, waiting for things to start moving and happening, it gives me a lot of time to think.  I have yet to have the inner dialogue of, “Oh God, why ME??  Woe is me and why would you do this to me, Lord??”  No, that hasn’t happened.  But I HAVE wondered what I could have done differently over the course of my previous 42 years to prevent this.  Did all of those years of smoking contribute to my cancer?  Did my miscarriages also raise my risk of developing this particular cancer?  I know that both of these things are supposedly risk factors that can increase a woman’s chances – but did they in my case?  I will never know that.  Did being overweight for so many years increase my chances?  Or being sedentary for so long?  Or perhaps the deoderant that I use – did using a rollon instead of a spray do it?  Yeah, there are all kinds of wacky theories out there.  But seriously, I have to sit and wonder what I did to contribute to the development and discovery of cancer in my body – and will I develop it somewhere else, too?

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There is also the possibility that I inherited the gene that producees breast cancer. After all, my mother has had it. Her only sister has had it. I think they had maternal aunts with it. One of my father’s sisters has had it. I got whammied on both sides on the gene pool.

Tomorrow (Wednesday), I go back to UT Southwestern to have genetics draw blood and begin the process of testing me for the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes. My part is simple – they draw a vial of blood and send it off. The hard part is waiting for the results – 14 days. This, however, will help the surgeon determine if she should take just the affected breast, or preventatively take both (which is what I want). Even if I don’t test positive for the gene, I want to have both breasts removed, so that I don’t ever have to go through this again. For those who do not know, the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes are known as tumor suppressors, and are linked to hereditary breast and ovarian cancers (according the the National Cancer Instiitute). I read some interesting information regarding the genes and testing, which helped me understand it more.

Both men and women who have harmful BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations may be at increased risk of other cancers – NOT just breast or ovarian. Women who inherit a harmful mutation has an increased risk of developing breast and/or ovarian cancer at an early age (meaning before menopause). Men who inherit harmful BRCA1, in particular, also have an increased risk of breast cancer, and possibly, pancreatic, testicular, or prostate cancers. Lovely.

I believe that the foundation is covering my genetics testing, or they will bill to Medicaid once I get coverage. I was, however, encouraged to hear that if I am positive for either the BRCA1 or BRCA2, then there is a chance that the foundation will also bring my boys in and perform the test on them. It would be very beneficial to know if either of them are also positive for these genes, so that they can be proactive in their health to do whatever they need to prevent getting an active cancer diagnosis. Plus, Nicholas already has a baby girl, whom can also inherit this gene if her daddy is positive for it; something that I would HATE to see happen!

So I guess that if the tests come back as positive for this, the “breast cancer gene,” then that can pretty much explain the cause of my cancer. If not, I guess I will never know what caused it or how I possibly contributed. All I know is that it is here now, but I want it gone. Soon I will begin the fight for my life, and I am so truly grateful for every well wish, every email or Facebook message, every prayer, every offer for help and/or babysitting, and every dollar that has been donated to help during this time that I won’t be able to work. I truly believe that together we can and will triumph over this horrible mutation, and live to write about it all!

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