Scheduling Internal Conflicts

One of my defining features has always been my boobs. When people (read: my husband) would tell me that my eyes were the first thing they noticed about me, I’m pretty sure they were talking about the enormous breasts that were staring at them. Similarly, when you hear “breast cancer gene”, you just think of breasts. But part of being BRCA1 positive is also the heightened risk of other cancers, too.
Ovarian cancer can be sneaky and with my up to 40% chance of getting this disease, I have to maintain a schedule of screenings until I can ultimately have my risk eliminated with an oophorectomy (and/or likely a radical hysterectomy).  The signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer often don’t appear until the disease is in its more progressive stages. So, every six months, I get an internal ultrasound to ensure there is nothing suspicious going on in there.  I also get a blood test called CA-125, which can indicate ovarian cancer (it can also indicate other ailments and sometimes results in a false positive, so there is some debate over its usefulness and is often only recommended to patients with an increased risk).  I’m overdue for my biannual test (whoops).
With my little one going in for her own surgical procedure in two days and in between my surgeries and life, in general, I’ve just let this bit of scheduling go.  Stupid excuses?  Yeah, pretty much.  Another one of the things I should be doing to decrease my risk of ovarian cancer is to go on birth control.  I have also resisted this and I’m not sure that’s wise either.  I don’t think I’m quite done having kids yet, as there may be one little bugger still left to be conceived in my rather ominous ovaries.  So I’m not thrilled with the idea of being on hormones before I try to calculate when I’m ovulating, charting that and then figuring out when we should do it, all while consulting with the Chinese Lunar Calendar in order to get that boy. Third time’s a charm?
I remember talking to a fellow BRCA positive friend who was on the fence about whether or not to have a third after her double mastectomy.  When we spoke, she was halfway through the process and I hadn’t even begun.  She said, “I feel like just getting the oophorectomy now.  I just want this to all be behind me.”  I really didn’t understand how she could give up on her dream of a third child so easily.  I get it now.  I felt like breast cancer was looming over me and now that that risk is eliminated, I have the ovarian cancer risk rolling in like a dark cloud in the distance.  How fast will that storm move in or will it blow off to shore?  Should I roll up the picnic cloth and just pack it in to be safe?  Or do I enjoy the time we have until the clouds are a little too close for comfort?  I’ve been advised to wait for the oophorectomy and hysterectomy until I’m 35, so I have 3.5 years to decide.  I just have to be smarter about scheduling my screenings and either getting knocked up or going on the pill sooner rather than later.

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