Sunday, July 14, 2013
For over a month now, I have been trying to track down information about various family members and their cancers, in order to provide information to the geneticist I had consulted. There is a great deal of cancer in my family, on my dad's side. My grandfather, father, uncle and aunt have all had cancers of various types. In addition, my sister, I, and now my son, have all had cancer. On my mother's side, no one.
If Danny hadn't gotten cancer, I probably would have just assumed it was all coincidence. Most cancers don't have any genetic connection. Some breast cancers do, but I was already tested for the BRCA1 and -2 genes, and the results were negative. But when Danny got sick, I got more proactive, and asked to see a geneticist.
And what he said was that there may be a family tendency towards cancer, rather than a specific cancer gene. It's a rare condition, and even though my family does fit the profile, that doesn't mean we have the actual genetic tendency - it takes a blood test to find out, and it takes up to six weeks to get the results.
In the meantime, he asked me a ton of questions about the various cancers family members have had, many of which I didn't know the answers to.
Well, one month later, I can say that I have tracked down answers to all his questions but one, and that one I don't think I will be able to get an answer for. The next-to-last question, about one of the two cancers my father had, I had really, really worked on. My mother has Alzheimer's, so although she would have definitely known the answer at one time, she was no help. I called my brother and my sister. I called my brother-in-law (my [other] sister's widower) in case she had spoken to him about it before she died. And I called my aunt. No one had a definite answer. However, my aunt told me she had a copy of the autopsy report on my father, and she would mail it to me, which she did. I opened the envelope today and started to read. And there was the answer I had been looking for.
My aunt is amazing. She will be 99 years old on August 20th, and she is still living independently (though she doesn't drive anymore), and still sharp as a tack. She is a survivor of colon cancer, and she is just the neatest lady. I love her very dearly, and I am sad that we live far apart. She tells the most wonderful family stories that no one but she remembers anymore. But I am so glad and grateful that she is in my life!
Oh, the name of the syndrome which I might, or might not, have, is Li-Fraumeni Syndrome.