September 7, 2010

Fathers & daughters

Good day/Bad day?: not bad

I don't know why it feels harder to go back to work after an official long weekend compared to all my unofficial ones, but I was dragging my feet today. But I did get a few things accomplished and finished the day up a little early.

Crossing my fingers makes it hard to type, but Ben may finally be on the mend. Not feeling outstanding, but better enough to get flustered about what's not done around the house. Welcome back!

Last week I talked a little about my mom and thinking back on her long-time journey with cancer (10 yrs, age 50-60). Today I want to think about my dad. I know that others have said it, but I want to say it clearly that there is no reason to feel guilty and responsible for this. That should be a given, but I know how our minds can work. Where we are today for what we know about breast cancer is miles from what was known when I was born. That's easy to gloss over, but it's really important. There was no knowledge of specific genetic mutations then, no way to check for them--there was just the hunch that a family history would make you more susceptible. You can't (sorry, shouldn't) feel responsible for having a daughter with cancer when there would have been no way to predict that.

I know the feeling, though. I've talked to a few people about this, but I have a daughter and a known genetic mutation, so she has a 50-50 chance of having it, too. It's a little different for this generation. I struggle with kicking myself for not pursuing the genetic testing before I had a child, of just saying I know I have a strong family history and that's enough to know...and now that I know, should we consider having another child down the road? I don't have a good answer for that. I do realize what I said above applies to me, too--that where we'll be technologically when Olive becomes an adult is eons away from what I can imagine right now, and I have to hope that means there will be some better solution for her than removing body parts.

This is a good segue into the recent news about the ovary and breast removal for BRCA carriers and the increase in survival and reduction in cancer. The Washington Post has a good summary of it if you want to check it out (search BRCA), and the actual study was in JAMA for those with access. Another genetic thing--I'm waiting for a movie to come from Netflix that was a PBS documentary, "In the Family", about a woman who finds she has the mutation and is deciding what choices to make. I'll give you a review after I watch it, and there's a website with ongoing discussion about breast CA genetics via the film: http://inthefamily.kartemquin.com/

To make the plural "fathers" in the title applicable, just wanted to say that Ben can get the best giggles out of Olive by far. Good Daddy!

3 comments:

Kathy said...

I've said this to Ben and Jenny before and I'll say it again: What would the world be like without Olive or Jenny, or, for that matter, Ben? I appreciate what Jenny says in this posting about fathers, but I go a little further...it's not just about what was or wasn't known back when Jenny and her brother and sisters were conceived or when Olive was conceived. It's also about recognizing that BRCA1 isn't the only definer of Jenny or her siblings--or Olive. Thank you Bob and Bonnie (I know she is somehow in touch) for giving the world and our son Jenny--Jenny, think of what you've meant and mean to so many people. We wouldn't trade you as DIL and I bet Bob wouldn't trade you as daughter. We wouldn't trade Ben or his brother Jared either, even though we now know we contributed our own less than stellar family tendencies and genetic factors. We are grateful, Ben and Jenny, for your leap of faith in having Olive--our lives would be so much less rich without her and we just know that, along with BRCA1 potential and our own family "fortunes", that she will be funny and loving and smart as a whip with the ability to impact thousands, not to mention totally cute. Family and real friends are those who love you when no one else can, who take your bad along with your good, who don't expect perfection or purity. To have life, we have to embrace all of it--anything less says that we need to re-think our expectations and realize that, with our support, a "flawed", genetically or otherwise, person can realize their potential to be a contributor. MIL

Ben said...

I think a re-read of Brave New World is in order.

Melissa said...

The testing stuff is interesting. I wish your mom and gram could have tested. I wonder too what the findings are if my mom doesn't have it, then can I not get it or could she have passed it thru the gene pool....Great photo of the two of you girls. You look awesome! Thanks for your blog updates. I read this tonight while I ran on the treadmill....got caught up from mid-Aug.