Wednesday, July 8, 2015

FAMILY AFFAIR

At one of my oncology appointments I asked about genetic testing out of concern for my daughter and possibly for myself to try to figure out the answer to the big “why me?” question.  She told me that she would most certainly recommend me for the testing which I was very happy about.  In the past I had been told that if your mother, sister or aunts had a history of cancer then it would be recommended but nobody had ever asked about my Dad’s family.  Funny because it took two parents to make me.

My Mom did not have cancer but my Grandma did develop uterine cancer in her eighties and I have a few second cousins that also had various types of cancer.  However, my own father had prostate cancer and he has four sisters of which three had a combination of breast, ovarian and uterine cancer.  I guess that set off some alarm bells for the oncologist and the referral for the testing was submitted.  Hereditary cancer is normally found in families where several members from different generations develop cancer or where it happens at a young age (less than 50).

Tarnowski Family - Fall 2014
The main purpose of the genetic testing was to determine if there might be an inherited predisposition to cancer in my family.  It is such a common disease now but only a minority is due to an inherited predisposition.  I received the information that I needed in the mail and the first step involved a great deal of paperwork.  I had to complete a questionnaire with detailed questions about my family members.  This was information that I did not know so I had to seek help from my Dad and from my Mom’s sister, my Aunt Georgeanne.  I even had to get consent forms signed by my aunts to allow their health records to be disclosed.  It took some time and some research but I finally got all of the information together.  Holy crap!  I could not believe how much cancer was in my family history!  I knew about a few of my relatives but not all of them.  I guess it was something that I never paid attention to when I was younger or maybe it was just never talked about.
Tarnowski Family - Summer 2004
It turns out that in addition to my Dad, I also had cousins, grandparents, aunts and uncles that had suffered with cancer.  The types of cancer included breast, prostate, uterine, skin, colon, pancreatic, brain and throat.  I couldn’t believe it!  How could I have not known about all of this?  I had thought that cancer was not really in my family. Boy was I wrong!!  I finally got all of the paperwork submitted and got a call for my appointment.

Now I just had to wait for a few weeks.

Family Affair - Mary J. Blige

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