During an emergency C-section, my doctor discovered a mass on my Fallopian tube that turned out to be cancer. The bad kind. And it had spread. So, while I soak in the bliss of being a new wife and mom at 45, I'm also dealing with things like surgeries, chemotherapy, cancer treatment and all that those entail. I try to do it with gratitude and humor, and always with honesty.
What I want to know is what moms, particularly new moms, did before Facebook and Twitter? Seriously. These social media outlets have saved my ass -- and kept me from losing sleep -- more times than I can count in the 15 or so months that I've been a mom.
Back in the day, where did moms turn at 2 a.m. when their babies began puking buckets? Or when their kid spiked what appeared, at least to the inexperienced parent, to be a dangerously high fever? Or when the toddler who hadn't pooped in a week began screaming with belly pain?
What did our moms do in the pre-Internet dark age?
I recently came to the realization that I may have no choice but to join the ranks of hundreds of thousands of cancer patients on this planet who don't fully beat cancer but don't die from it either. The patients who fall into the third option category.
My husband and I were both 44 years old when our only child was born. Our daughter is now 15 months old and we're 45. We're the oldest of the parents among our daughter's Montessori classmates. Her teachers are young enough to be our own children.
See, this is the kind of mathematical comparing I do all the time.
When I was pregnant, my obstetrician referred to me as being of "advanced maternal age". I accepted that. Being knocked up at 44 put me in a certain high risk category. But in all of the excitement of our pregnancy, I didn't put a ton of thought into the "advanced parenting age" aspect of the situation.
I recently found out that I have the BRCA1 genetic mutation. And even though I've recently gone through a hell of a year of intense treatment for widespread gynecologic cancer, I am now facing the fact that I am at very high risk for breast cancer. Like really high risk. I'm told that there is an 87 percent chance that I'll contract breast cancer in my lifetime. And although at age 45, I've already lived through part of my lifetime risk, those odds are still uncomfortably high.
I recently made the decision to seek genetic counseling and testing to determine if, given my history of cancer, my daughter was also at risk for contracting the disease. Turns out, she very well may be.
My first step in the genetic testing process was to see if I carried either the BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations. If I tested negative, I would then have the option to go deeper and do further testing. Given my known family history and all of the relevant factors, I knew I had a relatively low 7.5% chance of testing positive for one of the mutuations. So I was surprised this week to learn that I had indeed tested positive for a BRCA1 deleterious mutation. In other words, I have the cancer gene.