I already prepped myself just in case. I got my blood drawn for the Myriad genetic testing lab to see if my cells had a predisposition for cancer – mostly checking for BRCA 1 or BRCA 2 mutations. I chatted with the tech as she pulled out a fancy bright orange box in shrinkwrap. As she opened all the pieces, I asked if I could take a picture of the box. It looked more like a box for anti-spy software than a life-altering test – a test with results that could echo on both sides of my family.
Surprisingly, I didn’t feel a prick of fear during the week wait. Being scared doesn’t make things go away or make recovery’s second-hand tick faster. So I buckled down and prepared myself. If I was positive for either breast cancer mutation, I planned to have the prophylactic double mastectomy and reconstruction. In my mind, it was a very clinical decision which would save me from chemotherapy again. Just typing the word chemotherapy makes me hold my breath, so I don’t smell alcohol wipes or the metallic taste of saline hitting my bloodstream.
While napping yesterday when Shiloh was also out for his nap, I got a call from a very excited nurse. She said my bloodwork was surprisingly clean – everything was negative. Even the rep for Myriad wanted to reach out to me because most were convinced with my history of stage IV ovarian cancer it would be positive for something – but it wasn’t.
My reaction was delayed – “That’s great!” I said. I was thrilled and disappointed. Thrilled I would not have any more surgeries. Disappointed because I was hoping for some answers – something to tell me why all of this happened to me in the first place. But just like my test results and family medical history, everyone before me was unblemished – I am still the anomaly – the rare case – a fraction of a percentage.
I may never find the medical reason it happened to me – but I have to keep seeing the reason I’m still alive in my son’s eye as we walk through Costco, in my husband’s arms as he hugs me after work while still damp from Virginia humidity, on the walks taken with a plastic bag in hand with my crazy dog, and in every student I have the privilege to teach more than English.