Tag Archives: Ovarian Cancer

Genetic Testing was Right for Me

Genetic Testing was Right for Me

I occasionally post serious blogs, and there won’t be many that could be more so than this post.  I hope you read this anyway.  It could save your life or the life of someone you love. Colon cancer is prevalent on my mom’s side of the family. My grandmother, great grandfather and great uncle had colon cancer. My mom passed of ovarian cancer, and a great aunt had breast cancer.  In its infancy, I feared genetic testing. What happens if I have the gene mutations, and my insurance company drops me? If I do have the gene mutations what treatments will I have to undergo? I had to decide whether genetic testing was right for me.

Genetic Testing Was Right For Me
Colon Cancer Awareness Ribbon

I spoke to a genetic counselor who assured me that my health insurance company cannot drop me due to the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA). According to this article published by the NY Times, GINA does not cover life, disability or long-term care insurance policies.

Health insurance companies are willing to pay for more tests to detect cancer early, as well as surgical procedures to decrease one’s chances of contracting cancer. For instance, many health insurance companies will pay for a mammogram and an MRI, alternating each every six months. Additionally, one can get an annual ovarian ultrasound, which I’ve already been doing since my mom passed. Or, one can choose to remove the ovaries if that is appropriate.

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Ovarian Cancer Awareness Ribbon

Approximately one month ago I decided to undergo genetic testing for the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes and Lynch Syndrome because of my family history.  The BRCA1 and 2 genes have been linked to increased odds of developing breast cancer. Lynch Syndrome has been linked to colon and a variety of other cancers. Although I’m obviously not going to get prostate cancer, I learned that its prevalence on my dad’s side  of the family increases my cancers of contracting other types of cancer.

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Breast Cancer Awareness Ribbon

I received the best possible news and learned that I do not carry the BRCA1, BRCA2 or Lynch Syndrome gene mutations. Today I’m celebrating the outcome of my tests. At the same time, I ponder what would have happened if my tests were positive. Could my life insurance carrier increase my premiums, deny future coverage or discriminate against other family members? My employer pays for my long term disability insurance. But that isn’t the case for most people.

Currently, insurers claim they are not using the tests to discriminate against people who carry the gene mutations. In fact, insurance carriers build their revenue platforms based on lifestyle choices such as smoking or not smoking, so the precedent is already set. The insurers may not charge higher premiums or dropping coverage right now, but these practices are not banned and could be implemented in the future.

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I wanted the peace of mind that genetic testing can provide. But my advice to you would be to talk to a genetic counselor who will help you weigh the risks and benefits for you and, potentially, for your family. This article by the American Cancer Society may also help you choose whether genetic testing is right for you.

 

 

Her Angel Wings – Battling Ovarian Cancer – Part 3

Her Angel Wings – Battling Ovarian Cancer – Part 3

I have been putting off writing this last segment, because it is the hardest part to write. I have to tell you that my mom didn’t make it and the cancer took her from us. But  she didn’t pass the night that her intestines split. She made it another three months, although her quality of life was limited. She couldn’t eat and had to be fed through tubes. She rotated between the hospital and various rehab facilities until her CA-125 blood tests reflected a rise in her cancer cells.

At that point, my mom made the toughest choice of her life. She stopped all treatment and requested to move to the Hospice facility in my home town where she was treated with the utmost dignity and was given plenty of medications to ensure she wasn’t in pain.

Mom was at Hospice eight days. We stayed there with her day and night leaving only to get food shower at relatives homes.  My mom requested Charlotte Church‘s Voice of an Angel music.  We listened to the same tracks over and over because they were so soothing. I’ll forever be grateful to Ms. Church for easing my Mom’s passing.

Her Angel Wings - Battling Ovarian Cancer - Part 3

She lingered for several days until my husband, Terry, told her that he would look over all of her children. He told her that he’d see to it that we would all be okay. She was unconscious, but I believe she heard him.

The night my mom passed, was a blessing for her and turned out to be a night that I’ve cherished forever. She passed peacefully with my older brother, my younger brother and his wife, Terry and I all present. I truly believe she earned her angel wings as soon as she made it to the pearly gates.  It was a tear-filled night, but we new we needed to let her go. She wasn’t living like we wanted her to be able to live.  So to say that I have grown to support the current Death With Dignity movements is an understatement.

Angel Wings

Through all of this I have mentioned friendship, and there was one particular friend who is still a part of my life today. She’d lost her mom the year before and knew exactly what I needed. She listened, handed me Kleenex or sometimes told me a funny joke so that I’d remember to laugh. To my friend, I know you may read this, I’ll always love you for being there for me.

Another reason I’ve been putting this off is that the Mother’s Day following my mom’s passing, Terry and I were given a  quite timid Russian Blue that we named Sasha. Well, we just  had to have Sasha euthanized two weeks ago because she had cancer. I spent the last few weeks of her little life dreading the final outcome, but knowing I needed to do it. And knowing she was a link to my Mom that would never come back.

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Dealing with the emotion of letting my beloved little cat who helped me through each Mother’s Day passing away at the same time I’d started these posts was too much. So I apologize for the delay in finishing the posts. I know you’ll understand.

These weren’t upbeat posts, but I wanted to write them so that others who may be facing ovarian cancer or the loss of their beloved pets will know they are not alone. I also wanted to post some links for more information about ovarian cancer. The biggest point is that many people believe ovarian cancer to be a “silent” killer because it doesn’t have early warning symptoms. But that isn’t true. Many women suffer from severe gastrointestinal issues before the cancer has advanced to its killer state. So, if you take nothing else away from these posts, it is this: Pay attention to your body and know what is normal for you. If it isn’t normal get checked.

The second thing I’d  like you to know is that an ovarian ultrasound could save your life. I get one every year because I didn’t want to undergo elective surgery to have them removed. I’m not afraid of a test, but I am afraid of going under going anesthesia when it isn’t absolutely necessary.

Please take a moment to check these links. They could save your life or the life of someone  you love.

Mayo Clinic

Johns Hopkins University

WebMD

May peace and health be with you.

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Her Angel Wings – Battling Ovarian Cancer – Part 2

Her Angel Wings – Battling Ovarian Cancer

We left off the last post with my step-dad’s ex moving in to take care of him. I know it sounds crazy, but it worked out wonderfully. They got along fine. And when we’d visit, we actually had the time to go see my mom more than when we were there to take care of my step-dad. 

Continue reading Her Angel Wings – Battling Ovarian Cancer – Part 2

Her Angel Wings – Battling Ovarian Cancer – Part 1

Her Angel Wings – Battling Ovarian Cancer – Part 1

This post is about how my mom earned her angel wings battling ovarian cancer. But first, I’d like to tell you a little about my mom. Her name was Sandi, and she was born in Hawaii before Pearl Harbor was attacked, but was too young to remember that. Purple was her favorite color and she hated it when I’d pick flowers for her because the flowers would die before their natural deaths.

Mom was raised in Missouri and moved to Florida when she was about eighteen. She eloped with my father when she was nineteen. She stayed with my dad for nineteen years even though he was an alcoholic who sometimes abused her. She said she never regretted eloping with him because she wouldn’t have had the three of us if she hadn’t married him. She taught me to look for men who would treat me right, not how she was treated. Then she finally left my dad and married my step-father when I was fifteen. She had some good years with my step-dad. Twenty-one to be exact. He treated her like she should have been treated during the early parts of her life, but wasn’t. Of course, they had some issues, what couple doesn’t? 

Her Angel Wings - Battling Ovarian Cancer - Part 1
My Step-dad, Harold, with my Mom, Sandi

Continue reading Her Angel Wings – Battling Ovarian Cancer – Part 1