A Phone Call No. 3

This call came just before I had surgery, and I just haven’t had time to put it up. Well, I’ve had TIME, too much, but I just didn’t do it:

“Hi, Heather? This is Wilson, from NYU? Rebecca’s assistant.”

“Yes,” I say. “The genetic counselor.”

“Yes. We just wanted to let you know that your genetic testing results came back. They’re negative.”

“Both BRCA-1 and BRCA-2?” I ask. “No genetic scrambling either?”

“No,” Wilson says.

That’s it. After hours and hours of explanations on their part, and research on my part, it turns out that genes, or rather, those genes, are not responsible for my cancer. The conversation took less than two minutes.

It’s good news. It means that I don’t have more than a 60 percent chance of recurrence even after treatment. It means that I don’t have a ridiculously high chance of getting ovarian cancer. There was a “Do not pass GO, go straight to double mastectomy and ovary excision” card out there. I do not have to pick that one up.


About leftbreast

I have had breast cancer. I was diagnosed at 47, and am now 49. I have finished "active treatment," two surgeries, chemo, radiation, monoclonal antibodies. These days, I only take a drug to suppress my uptake of estrogen, since my tumor was highly reactive to that hormone. I have been married to my husband Pete for 21 years. I have a stepdaughter, Maureen, 30, and a daughter, Erin, 10. I've been a freelance magazine journalist for 20-plus years, covering everything from Chinese foreign policy to Catholic nuns to endangered species. I have had a great life. I have lived in Asia and all over the United States. I have spent nights with tree-sitters in Oregon and with astronomers at the Mauna Kea observatory in Hawaii. I've been to a cocktail party on the poopdeck of a British destroyer docked in Shanghai. I've taken the bus to Tibet, and tramped through the cloud forests of Panama with biologists. A magazine sent me on a raft trip down the Colorado through the Grand Canyon; another sent me to cooking school for a week. I have spent time with celebrities, presidents and heroin dealers. I love my work. I have a loving, supportive family and more friends than I probably deserve. I have had the space and time to camp, ski, cycle, garden, cook and spoil my pets (an Australian shepherd, a German shepherd and a tabby cat). If it all ended tomorrow, I would have to say that it has been a really, really good ride. When I was in thick of treatment, I was simply fighting for more time. Now, I'm trying to connect the experience of cancer with the rest of my life, with the time that's been won. I hope the cancer never comes back, but if it does, I'll be ready. That's what this blog is about.
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