You can find out if will get cancer and die? WTF!

Posted 6 October 2011 by

A few months ago I had my yearly check up with my gynocologist. YES I just wrote the word gynocologist, get the fuck over it!  We were going through my family history and I mentioned that the women in my family have had both ovarian and breast cancer.  “Oh well you know you can be tested for that,” she said. “I can be tested for cancer?!” “Essentially the answer is yes. Women can get a breast-ovarian cancer gene test that will show whether she has breast cancer or ovarian cancer gene mutations, known as BRCA 1 or 2, which increases a woman’s chance of having breast, ovarian or other cancers. “Do you want the test? It’s a simple blood test?”  So all I need to do is give the nurse some of my blood and in a couple weeks I will know if I carry the gene that could cause me to get cancer?! Wait do I want to know if I will get cancer? Holy shit I may find out I could get cancer at any moment?? WTF!

I paused a moment.  What if I did indeed have this mutated gene? Should I start eating more acai berries, do more yoga, remove my ovaries?! My doctor tells me there are things I can do to help in the prevention of me getting cancer if in fact I carry this mutated gene.  I already eat fairly well and exercise a few times a week.  I do yoga, I hike, I eat a lot of green leafy vegetables and on occasion take vitamins. So what would I do differently? I decide within a minute that I want the test.  A prick of a needle, my blood goes into a vial and soon I will have an answer.

A few weeks go by and I get a call. “Is this Leslie Morgan?” “Yes.” “Hi we are with X company and we are calling about the blood sample your doctor sent over that was to be tested to see if you carry the gene for cancer.  We checked with your insurance company and they do not cover any portion of the test so the fee for the test will be $5000.”  WOAH! Hold the fucking phone. 1) Insurance won’t cover a test to find out if you carry a gene that can cause cancer so that I could take preventative measures 2) I have to pay 5 grand for it! 3) What average American has 5 grand to spend on a blood test right now? “So you are telling me it is going to cost me $5,000 to get the results of this test?” “Yes that is correct.” “No thank you,” I say and hang up the phone.

This happened about a month ago.  Yesterday Steve Jobs died of pancreatic cancer. The world mourns the loss of a man who helped change the face of technology. I still don’t have 5 grand to spend on a test to see if I have cancer, but I wish I did. You see I am the person who if given the choice would want to find out the exact day I was going to die. I would want to know if it was going to be a horribly tragic death or if it would be one where I would simply close my eyes and kick the bucket. Many people always say if you found out you had terminal cancer tomorrow what would you do differently? I never had an answer even though I would want to know. A part of me thinks it’s total bullshit that I have the ability to find out if I carry this cancer gene and my economic circumstances prevent me from finding out. However, Steve Jobs, one of the wealthiest and most important men of our time had pancreatic cancer and he didn’t have enough money to fight it. He probably had the best doctors in the country, but the disease won out. When it’s your time it just is your time and no amount of money can really make a difference. So no matter how much I want to know if I could get cancer and die, I am never going to know unless it happens. Even if I had the cancer gene it may never mutate so I would be eating acai berries for the rest of my life for no reason… so for now I am going to live my life as I always have, while eating a bit more leafy green vegetables just in case…

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