The last year has been a difficult one for my family and I. For months, I had been sick and test after test wasn’t showing why. I discovered other things wrong with me – I had iron-deficiency anemia and apparently an extra rib but it wasn’t accounting for all of my other abnormal blood work, fatigue, numbness, tingling and more. Finally, some lab work and an ultrasound provided an incidental finding – a mass on my left kidney that was showing signs of being renal cell carcinoma. My doctor decided to do a robotic partial nephrectomy on my left kidney and a few weeks later we got the results confirming that it was renal cell carcinoma – kidney cancer.
Since I was only 31, my oncologist recommended that I meet with a genetic counselor especially since my Dad had the same type of kidney cancer. Meeting with the genetic counselor was really interesting as we mapped out both sides of my family and any health issues. We decided to test myself for 19 genes that are associated with an increased risk for kidney cancer. I’m still about 2 weeks from getting the results of those tests but I firmly believe that knowledge is power.
When I was recently asked if I wanted to get tested for mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes that will tell you if you’re at high risk for breast and ovarian cancer, I jumped at the chance. My grandmother on my Dad’s side passed away from breast cancer in her early 50’s. I’ve already had a mammogram done a few years ago but no further testing was encouraged by my doctor at the time. I know some people might not want to know if they are at risk for developing these cancers, but I want to know and want to be able to have all of the information available for early detection. I want to do it for my daughters and my son. I want to do it for myself.
Breast Cancer Statistics
It’s hard to believe but in the U.S., 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer at some time during her life. Mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes are hereditary and get passed down through generations. For a woman with a harmful BRCA 1 or 2 mutation (BRCA positive), the risk of developing breast cancer significantly increases with age. However, if you do not have a family history of breast or ovarian cancer, it does not mean you are not a carrier of a BRCA mutation. Recent studies show that some 50 percent of women with BRCA mutations have no substantial family history of breast and ovarian cancer. It means that following the traditional criteria, 1 out of 2 women in the general population will be missed.
A pioneer in the field of genetic testing, Mary-Claire King has said: “I believe that every woman should be offered testing of BRCA1 and BRCA2 at about age 30 as part of routine medical care. About half of women who inherit mutations in BRCA1 or BRCA2 have no family history of breast or ovarian cancer and have no idea they are carrying cancer-causing mutations. Most of inherited breast and ovarian cancer can be prevented, if mutation carriers know who they are.”
I completely agree with Mary-Claire King. I’ve read too many devastating stories of women discovering they have breast cancer and it’s too late. Being tested for mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes is a huge step in taking part of your health.
Getting Tested with Veritas Genetics
I’m sure that you assume that getting tested for mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes is very expensive or that your insurance won’t cover it. Luckily, Veritas Genetics believes that people have the right to know their genetic information to improve disease prevention and early detection.
Veritas Genetics’ myBRCA test is a genetic screening test that can identify if you have harmful mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes and if you’re at high risk for breast and ovarian cancer. myBRCA is an affordable test at only $199 and requires no insurance authorization. It also includes genetic counseling to help answer any questions you may have before, during and after the test.
The process is easy. Request the myBRCA test on the Veritas Genetics website. Veritas Genetics will obtain your doctor’s approval or you can use a doctor provided by them. They will send you a saliva test kit in the mail for you to return back to them. Once you return your sample, the company processes the test and shares results with you and your doctor within 4-6 weeks.
I just received the test today in the mail and I’m eager to get the process started. Even better, when I ordered a myBRCA test, another test is donated to a woman in need. And, if you test positive for a BRCA gene mutation, Veritas Genetics provides up to four free myBRCA tests for your immediate family.
I appreciate that if I do get a positive result that Veritas Genetics will be there for me. They will provide the results to my primary doctor and then have me to talk to a genetic counselor to provide help to understand potential next steps.
No matter what my results are, I’ll be sharing them with you here on Sippy Cup Mom. Make sure to check back and also take a look at Veritas Genetics if you’re interested in getting tested for only $199. Because #1In8CantWait.
Veritas Genetics was founded by leaders in genomics, including Harvard Medical School graduates Dr. George Church and Dr. Preston Estep, Joseph Thakuria, M.D., and life sciences entrepreneurs Mirza Cifric and Jonathan Zhao.
Have you thought about getting your BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes tested?
Disclosure: I received compensation for this post but all thoughts and opinions are my own.