Hopeful Breast Cancer Study Is Still Scary

My mother died of breast cancer at the age of 45, and even though she was never tested for the BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation that causes cancer, I decided to get tested in 2010 to assuage my own fears over getting this terrible disease. I tested negative, which was a huge relief, but a 2007 study said I was actually still five times more at risk of getting the disease even without the mutation IF my mother had it. But now, it seems I can rest easy.

A new study has come out that says that, in fact, not inheriting the gene means a person who tests negative is actually back in the general population in terms of breast cancer risk. For women like me, it's a relief. 

But even still, it isn't a get out of jail free card.

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The general population risk is one in eight, which is still pretty terrifying. Anyone who has watched a person die of this awful disease knows one in eight is no picnic.

When you watch someone close to you die of something like breast cancer, you always feel like you're on the clock. It could happen at any moment, right? So I should be happy. And I am.

But the day I got the negative test back was a mixed bag for me. I was happy, but confused as to what caused my mom's cancer and wondering if I would ever be able to completely eliminate my risk. Now, I know I can't. There are no guarantees. This is great news in many ways, but in many ways, it's still scary.

I have eight close friends and at least one of us will face breast cancer someday. I don't like those odds at all.

Does this news mean anything to you?


Image via SCA Svenska Cellulosa Aktiebolaget/Flickr

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