Is My Daughter Destined to Get Cancer?

babyI think it's pretty common, right, for new moms to be neurotic about the mortality of their precious little angel? To go into the nursery to check and make sure their sleeping baby is still breathing? To start to panic if things seem a little "too quiet"?

At least that's what I hear. 

But isn't that supposed to wear off at some point?


Because for me, it hasn't. Worn off. And I'm wondering if my having had a near-death experience with cancer might have something to do with it. That and the fact that, being part of the cancer community, I seem to see and hear about death a lot more than I did before. 

Life just seems more fragile to me now, more tenuous.

My husband and I were recently traveling with our girl to the beach, and she developed a cough that seemed to be exacerbated by the angle of her carseat. We gave her bottles of formula, a sippy cup of water, and all-natural infant cough syrup, but nothing seemed to help. Then she made an odd strangle-y, gurgle-y sound. 

"I hope that wasn't her death rattle," I said over my shoulder as I crawled into the backseat of our rented minivan.

Is everyone as morbid as I am?

Given the fact that every morning that I don't hear our girl happily chattering to herself on the baby monitor, I wonder if she hasn't died in her sleep, it's probably no surprise that I'm wondering about her risks for cancer. After all, I had Stage IIIC Fallopian tube cancer, and my mother had Stage IV non-Hodgkins lymphoma nearly five years ago (and lived to tell about it).

The "Survivorship" program at the cancer center where I did my treatment offers what they call genetic counseling. They have nurse practitioners who specialize in genetics performing family cancer risk assessments for cancer patients and their loved ones. They also provide education about genetics and cancer risk, genetic testing, and access to clinical trials and research studies for those at increased risk for cancer.

Sign me up.

I'm scheduled to be assessed in the next 30 days. We can then decide what sort of testing and screening my siblings and daughter should undergo, when, and how often. Because we know that, barring a cure, early detection is key in winning the fight against cancer.

And since my daughter did me the solid of helping the doctors find my cancer, I figure I can do her one back.

I think that's the least I can do.


Image via Mark Montgomery

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