The gene-monster will get you!

I follow a lot of Facebook pages related to BRCA and cancer and such. On one page, someone with a BRCA mutation (I assume) posted about how they had a child on the way and they were not going to get the child genetic testing. Instead they were going to focus on “HEALTH and WELLNESS” and not “bombard” the kid with fears of cancer.

I understand the sentiment, and of course no one is pushing to get babies tested… well… no one I’ve come in contact with. I know all too well that it sucks to live life with the fear of cancer hanging constantly overhead.

But here’s what pisses me off. You can focus on “HEALTH and WELLNESS” ’til the cows come home, but that won’t stop the gene. The gene does not care if you run 20 miles every day, eat a strict diet of locally-sourced, organic fruits and vegetables, read Shakespeare, teach Yoga, never breathe contaminated air and never ingest any carcinogens. Until science can definitively say that some environmental factor turns on the gene and we can cut that environmental factor out of our lives, genetic testing is our best tool for survival.

I’m happy for that baby, but I hope that either those parents realize this before their kid turns 25, or science finds that BRCA genes can be repaired by repeated exposure to Hamlet and/or downward-facing dog.

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Cool Cancer Genome project at Vanderbilt

This is a really cool website that, although it’s very new and doesn’t yet mention breast cancer, I think is worth checking out. It’s designed for clinicians to help them get a full picture of cancer genetics.

My Cancer Genome

Given the amount of doctors that don’t seem to know anything about the breast cancer genes (!), I think this is a great tool and I hope more hospitals and cancer centers start to offer it so our doctors can be better informed.