BRCA Gene Test Day

This morning I went to the Levine Cancer Institute for a blood test and a session with a genetic counselor. In two weeks I'll know if I tested positive for a BRCA2 mutation.

I've had several people ask me how I'm holding up; how I feel about getting the genetic testing, and I have to be totally honest even if it sounds ridiculously optimistic--I've been looking forward to this, and I'm almost excited to hear how the blood work comes back. My counselor said something to me this morning that had already been on my mind for a while: knowing that you're BRCA positive doesn't mean anything except that you're more well-informed about your health.

For as long as I can remember, I have been deathly afraid of needles. The past few times I've had blood work done, I've walked so slowly and carefully that you'd think I was on my way to an electric chair. I usually have to lie down, and I toss and turn a few nights before, losing sleep over the anticipation of a simple couple of seconds. This time, however, I just didn't worry about it. I feel fortunate to have the access to a test that can give me potentially life-saving information. (Watching my mom recover from major surgery certainly helped me gain some perspective.)

So if my test comes back negative, I'll continue along with the same risk that most other women have. And if it's positive, we'll just go from there. But we'll know, and that's really something.

For any woman reading this, I hope it helps you to know you have options. I want to encourage every woman, especially if you have a family history of breast or ovarian cancer, to seek out the information and medical experts who can help you through this aspect of your life, and to make your own informed choices...

I choose not to keep my story private because there are many women who do not know that they might be living under the shadow of cancer. It is my hope that they, too, will be able to get gene tested, and that if they have a high risk they, too, will know that they have strong options.

Life comes with many challenges. The ones that should not scare us are the ones we can take on and take control of.
— Angelina Jolie, "My Medical Choice"