Last winter, I received a call from my geneticist saying, “Well, Denise, we finally know why you got breast cancer.” I have the same genetic mutation my sister has – Chek 2 1100 delc Our mom, who also had breast cancer in the 3.5 years myself, my mom and sister were all diagnosed, does NOT have the gene mutation. Mom’s breast cancer was a “fluke” or luck of the draw, much like the 80% of women who get breast cancer.
My sister’s breast cancer and my breast cancers were not. The genetic mutation came from my beloved deceased father’s side of the family. It was no surprise, though. My Aunt Ginny who worked in the medical field always used to call all the cancer in the family “the cancer gene.” Well, she was right! She died from cancer in her 60s. I sure would like to talk with her about this! She would be fascinated! However, the Chek 2 or Checkpoint Kinase 2 gene was not discovered until 1999, a year after Aunt Ginny died. However, much is known about this mutation in a very short time.
In some respects it is freeing as you are relieved from that thinking “what did I do to cause my breast cancer?”
Diann, my sister, was diagnosed at age 55 and 3 months. I was diagnosed at age 55 and 4 months. We are the first people to ever have breast cancer on my father’s side of the family, however, four of the six siblings of my father (including my father) all died of various types of cancer. that fit with the “profile” of Chek 2 1100 delc mutation. My cousin, Linda, was diagnosed with kidney cancer at age 55 and 1 month.
It is a game of percentages – if a parent has the gene mutation their children have a 50% chance of getting it.
One of the first questions I asked of my geneticist was this: If my great-grandfather was exposed to toxic chemicals and then conceived children, could the gene mutation be caused from the toxic chemicals and then passed to his children. The answer was YES either chemicals, or radiation or UV Rays are also causes. The FIRST thing that popped into my mind was that most of us use chemicals on our lawns!!
So what does this mean for me and my sister? It means that doctors recommend that my sister have a double mastectomy (which she did) and that I have my other breast removed for starters (within the next 8 months). My Oncologist said that he has spent his career encouraging women to keep their breasts, but that in our cases, he strongly urges us to have these surgeries.
It means much more than that, but to be honest, I cannot process all of it right now. I am who I am Chek 2 gene mutation and all.