Tuesday, May 14, 2013

BRCA and Brains

Did you hear Angelina Jolie has the BRCA 1 genetic mutation and had a bilateral mastectomy with immediate reconstruction to combat the effects? Because I heard. I have heard about it more than the Boston bombings. I don't know if it's actually newsworthy or if my tiny world of breast cancer is highlighting it. I am glad she was tested and is taking it seriously. I'm glad she's drawing attention to it, because so many women don't know about it. People don't usually get tested until they are diagnosed with cancer. Obviously my life would have been very different if I had known. I think about it a lot because there's a 50/50 chance my kids have it (assuming I still do, I'm still waiting on the results of the study I enrolled in, just to see if God changed my genetic makeup when He healed me. Come on, it's God, that's nothing for Him). Anyway, the knowledge of the BRCA test results can create fear and I hate that. I hate that cancer can control us like that, and ESPECIALLY that just the fear of it can affect us for the worse. But I did read her article and liked the positive approach to it. Instead of living in fear, she just got the surgeries.  The ovary removal is another strongly recommended procedure, but that affects us much more, so it's a bigger deal. They won't test anyone under 18 so I have about 13 more years of praying for my girls to not have the gene, and that if they do we will know how to handle it. I hate that they might ever be faced with that uncertainty, or the disfigurement, but I know that doing it as a preventive measure is immensely better than the way I had to do it. I know that anyone with that genetic mutation can take a different approach to their future than those without, but that doesn't mean their actions will control cancer. But God can. He can control every disease, every germ, every multiplication or division of cells. We are all in for a miserable life if we confuse our ability to choose with the ability to control. 

Isaiah 46:9-10, "I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done, saying, 'My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure.'"

BRCA genes and brains don't exactly go hand-in-hand, BUT BRCA mutations lead to cancer, and cancer treatment messes with your...I lost my train of thought. Oh, right, your brain! People call it chemo brain, and refer to it in a similar way that you would joke about your brain when pregnant. Sadly though, I already went through the memory loss and distraction associated with having little ones, so I feel like chemo did extra damage to me. On a typical day it isn't that big of a deal because I don't use the same parts of my brain that seem to have been affected. On a normal day I just trudge through my to-do list, driving here or there, disciplining this one or that one, and trying to make it through the day without yelling. On a day like today though, I needed my brain. Yaacov had to leave town on a last minute business trip, so I had to organize two different babysitters for the monthly consulting meeting I go to. I prepared all yesterday so I would be on time and the kids would be adequately packed. So this morning I'm meandering out of the house when I remember to check which building my meeting is in. Turned out it was in a whole different city (and time zone), so I was terribly late. While sitting in the meeting I tried to speak and realized that the words I was trying to recall were lost. The concept is there, but I don't have any idea how to label them. Then, at about 4pm Yaacov and I spoke on the phone and he reminded me that Abi had a t-ball game at 6:30. Failed again. At 8 pm it dawned on me that we missed it. So, instead of complaining about it I'm going to research specific brain-improving (see, this is a time I'm quite sure there's a real term for what I mean) techniques, and I'm going to operationalize and track the improvement so I know what works best for me. If you have any theories, let me know and maybe I'll include them. Stay tuned!

Genesis 28:15 "I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you."

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