12 noon Wednesday 5th December 2012 - London's Harley Street for genetic testing. Then 2pm appointment with new surgeon at The London Breast Clinic.
Genes comprise particles of DNA, packaged in chromosomes. They determine when and where the body makes each of the many thousands of proteins required for life and instruct cells in their growth and function. Humans have 20-30,000 genes. Researchers hunt for disease associated genes has resulted in a number being identified, including some that are pre-determiners for cancer. Better understanding of the function of genes and their contribution to disease is leading to increasingly improved treatments.
Relating to genes; the term indicates something inherited, this can include a pre-disposition to certain diseases.
"Most breast cancer is not caused by genetic changes, however, approximately 10% of patients in the UK have other family members who have had the disease. In these cases genetics can be a part of the cause of the cancer. Two important genes have been identified that when damaged strongly increase the likelihood of developing breast cancer. These genes are called BRCA 1 and BRCA 2. The most current figures show that women with a change in BRCA 1 have a 57% risk of developing breast cancer and a 49% risk of developing ovarian cancer. Women with a change in BRCA 2 have a 40% risk of developing breast cancer and a 18% risk of developing ovarian cancer."
We walk into a Grand office, with a very well educated gentleman, I immediately feel a sense of reassurance wash over me. No tissues on the desk that's a good sign to start with.
We go through my family tree as far back as we can & discover nearly every woman on my dads side has had breast or ovarian cancer, I feel like my body is a ticking time bomb. He tells me that he thinks I definitely have the gene even without being tested & even though he knows I don't feel it, in 'his' eyes I'm actually a very good statistic, once I've had the surgery I will be at a much lower risk than the average woman of ever catching breast cancer. Unfortunately I am still at a greater risk of getting ovarian cancer & they fully advise removing my ovaries in the near future, but that's another blog for another time..
After an in depth conversation covering everything we could think of to ask him, mum & I were satisfied, he suggested having the blood test done at the hospital where my appointment with the new surgeon was and if I had any further questions to call him. An hour has flown by & we leave feeling slightly lighter in step & with lots to talk about over a nice lunch in this posh part of town.. Only my mother can turn a daunting experience into a nice girly day out! !
As we walk towards the café we pass King Edward VII hospital & there is a mass of paparazzi gathered outside. The Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton is in there for morning sickness!!! & I thought I was a princess ;) My mum says she feels happier now, I smile at her - she is such a snob, but inside I'm also feeling a little bit better.