BRCA 1 & BRCA 2 mutations can increase the risk of breast cancer by up to 80% and the risk of ovarian cancer by 45%
When I found out I tested positive for the BRCA mutation, I didn’t cry. In fact, I haven’t shed a single tear thinking about what this would mean for my future. If there is one thing I’m known for, it’s for being strong. I’ve always had to fight my way through life so why would this be any different?
I knew nothing about any genetic testing up until meeting with a genetic counselor. Thankfully she was able to spell it all out for me. Hearing the news of being BRCA1+ made me feel absolutely nothing. That was until I heard my daughters have a 50% chance of inheriting the mutation as well. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think about how awful that would be. My oldest daughter, who is currently 16, understands what all of this means for her but my 8-year-old is far too young to carry that burden. Heck, it’s too big for anyone to carry.
What is the BRCA mutation?
The name “BRCA” is an abbreviation for “BReast CAncer gene.” BRCA1 and BRCA2 are two different genes that have been found to impact a person’s chances of developing breast cancer.
A small percentage of people (about one in 400, or 0.25% of the population) carry mutated BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes. A BRCA mutation occurs when the DNA that makes up the gene becomes damaged in some way.
When a BRCA gene is mutated, it may no longer be effective at repairing broken DNA and helping to prevent breast cancer. Because of this, people with a BRCA gene mutation are more likely to develop breast cancer, and more likely to develop cancer at a younger age. The carrier of the mutated gene can also pass a gene mutation down to his or her offspring.
Who Should Be Tested?
You might be at increased risk of having an inherited gene mutation that increases the risk of breast and ovarian cancers — and a candidate for genetic testing — if you have: A personal history of breast cancer diagnosed before age 45.
How Do you Get Tested for the BRCA Mutation?
It’s strongly recommended you speak with a genetic counselor (or other health care provider trained in genetic counseling) before deciding whether to be tested for BRCA1, BRCA2 or other inherited gene mutations.
The National Society of Genetic Counselors also has an online directory to help you find a genetic counselor.
What happens next?
This is just the very beginning of my story and how my bilateral mastectomy came to be on January 8th, 2020. I will continue to update the site as I put the content together.