Sometimes I forget what sparked my decision to get tested. Maybe it was the fact that my mother tested positive and did the brave thing of a prophylactic bilateral mastectomy. Maybe it was because Tim and I had just gotten married and I was now on his amazing health insurance. Maybe it was because I was staring 30 in the face like a gazelle being stalked by a hungry lion.
Yup, let's blame it on turning 30.
Whatever it was, I started 2015 with a determination to be healthier (and wiser, given my new decade).
Since my mother had already completed the full genetic mutation tests, I was able to get a singular test JUST for the BRCA2 gene. This meant that it was simpler and cost less. Shoutout to my mom for doing all the heavy lifting on this one! Apparently there is science* involved that I couldn't possibly test positive for a gene mutation that my mother didn't carry. hashtag science. hashtag genetics
*This is my way of telling you that I am in NO way a medical professional and only know what I've been told or have read, so you should ask your doctor if you have questions.
I did the test as part of my high risk monitoring program through Integris. Spit in a tube. Wait 3-5 business days for the results. The call came while I was in the middle of higher education day at the state capitol. I remember the nurse just spitting it out over the phone. I then sat and sobbed in the balmy bathroom, overwhelmed with grief, fear, and frustration (who can just roll that information out like that over the phone?!). I still don't know if I was nauseous because of the sudden anxiety that filled my spirit or the smell of sulfur from the antiquated bathrooms (in any other setting this would the time I begin my rant on the physical and economic state of the Oklahoma state capitol, but I will save that for another time and place).
I left the capitol building - I just left. Zombie-like I walked to my car, which was parked as close to downtown as you can get and still be in the state capitol complex, and somehow made it home.
The coming weeks were a blur.
What do I now? Who can I talk to? What do you do with that medical information? I felt like Scrooge seeing what the Ghost of Christmas Future had to show him, but with a very boobless and very ovary-less future. Do we want kids? Can I have kids? What if those kids get the gene? [It should be known that prior to this genetic test, Tim and I had no interest in children.] Something clicks when a medical professional start talking about removing parts of your body. My immediate reaction was like when trying rationalize NOT to donate the 12 extra umbrellas out of the coat closet: "But, what if we need those one day?"
It should be known that the very first people I talked with didn't really know how to answer my questions above. I was young (29), hadn't been diagnosed or treated for cancer, and I hadn't had children.
There are a handful of things that I am terrified of: splinters, clowns, nuclear bombs, spiders that are as big as VW beetles, etc. Nothing prepared me for hearing doctors tell you they didn't really know what to do with me. NEWSFLASH: I I DIDN'T EITHER!
So...I tested positive for the BRCA2 mutation.
Christina Mallory Chicoraske - a 30 year old, 4th generation Okie, diagnosed BRCA2+ and undergoing a prophylactic bilateral mastectomy. This is the tale of my journey with hopes to inform and encourage other young women searching for answers after a BRCA1/2 gene mutation discovery.