Thursday, March 7, 2013

I did a very scary and courageous thing today.  After 16 years of post-cancer life, I decided to finally have genetic testing done.  This is something I have thought about for a long time.  Genetic testing wasn't even available when I was diagnosed with Stage 2A breast cancer in 1997.  

When it did become available, my doctors didn't want me to get the testing done because, at that time, there were no laws to protect me from losing my insurance due to genetic predisposition.  

Later on, when I could pursue it without fear of losing my insurance, my doctors told me to put it off until the girls were older as it would just cause years of needless fear and concern if the test for the gene mutation was I decided to wait until the girls were older.

And now that day has come.  Just this week on Monday at a check up for Amy and me, we discussed with the doctor what screening for breast cancer the girls should have going into their later teen years and early twenties since I was diagnosed at 31.  We all agreed that they should be aware of their risk but not live life afraid.  My doctor then said, "What we really need to do now is genetic testing."

So I got on the phone with the Lutheran Hospital Cancer Resource Center, and the always helpful staff pointed me to the Northeast Indiana Genetic Counseling Center.  I got an appointment for today and got everything organized.  I made sure all of my medical records from Fort Wayne Oncology and Hematology were faxed to the center.  I completed the patient registration forms and emailed them in along with my insurance information.  I even called the insurance company to make sure I had coverage.

The urgency behind it all is that once the divorce is final, which could be very soon, I will be on a different insurance plan that I am not sure would cover the testing.  So I decided to go for it.

My dear friend Elaine went with me...thankfully...because of course there was a lot of information to discuss and absorb.  I answered many, many questions about my family health history, some of which Elaine already knew.  She was super-helpful in clarifying the information and reminding me of things.  I was so glad she was there.  

And then it went from clinical to emotional when the genetic counselor said, "Once you have the results, you may have an explanation."  And I cried.  I have waited 16 years for some answers.

In the beginning right after my diagnosis, I wondered if it was the food I ate, the water I drank, the old farm land I grew on, the pesticides I was exposed to...and on and on and on.  I finally decided to let it go and not live with one foot in the grave.  All I knew is: I had cancer.  I did everything I could to defeat it and care for myself.  And then I shook the dust off my feet and went on with my life.  I refused to live in fear, in angst and with what-ifs.

But walking into that genetic office was like a dream come true...because after all is said and done, the testing isn't about me or for is for my girls.  And it is my hope for their sake that I test negative for the mutation, which my doctors suspect is the case.

I will know in two weeks.  Please pray that I can live the next two weeks with out a cloud hanging over my head.  Pray that I can let go and live with whatever the outcome is.

Seeking some comfort and security in all of this, God reminded me of these verses:

Psalm 31:14-16
"But I trust in you, LORD;
I say, "You are my God; 
My times are in your hands;
deliver me from the hands of my enemies,
from those who pursue me.
Let your face shine upon your servant;
save me in your unfailing love."

I am very well aware that "my times," my time on this earth, are in His hands and they are His to do with as He pleases.  It is my hope and prayer that I can somehow continue to follow Him unfailingly regardless of what each day brings.  

I hope my up-and-down journey that has always landed me in God's tender care will point others to Him.  I have been so convicted that this blog has grown into so much more than just about me.  People all over the world are reading it and sharing it.  So many people have asked about it that I had business cards made to hand out to anyone who asks.

And as the card reads, I live my life for Him without fear of the days to come.

Proverbs 31:25
"She is clothed in strength and dignity;
she can laugh at the days to come."

P.S. For Elaine...thank you for being such a wonderful friend for over 16 years.  God so blessed my life the day you moved across the street from our family.  I know it makes you sad that I am not right there across the street anymore, but you are always in my heart and mind.  I love you, my dear friend!

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