Friday, August 5, 2011

You Have Time

Through a connection my sister, as a Health editor, set-up, I had the opportunity to speak with a very accomplished and well-respected breast cancer researcher today. After being kicked to the curb for a bit longer from UCLA, I was grateful to have this to look forward to. Someone who could finally answer some questions about what this now means for me. And, more importantly, which medical professionals in the Los Angeles area I should know about to add to my medical support team.

Cause remember, I've got no one on that team so far.

I walked away with a lot of reassurance and a handful of next steps. I'm good with next steps. I'm good with to do's. So to have a few action items...well, that's the easy part for me. Put something in front of me to do, and I'll do it.

In addition to things I could cross off a to do list, my nearly 25-minute long conversation was a great reminder on a few fronts.

First, I was told "There's no emergency here. You had this gene a year ago and you're fine. You have time to research your options and decide what you want to do."

Secondly, "Even if you were going to get it, and you may well not get it, it's likely not until you hit your 40s. The problem is you've been labeled now. You were just the same three weeks ago, but now you have a label on you. And that's what really makes it scary and hard. And it takes a little while to get through that."

And my third biggest takeaway was, "It's good to get with people who have been through it. To learn what their experience is."

It was a great reminder to not go into panic mode. To not jump to any rash decisions or make plans for permanent surgical procedures which would change the course of my life. It was nice to hear several times throughout the conversation that it wasn't an emergency and that I had time.

Time to let this all sink in. Time to do some research. Time to meet with different doctors and figure out who would be the best fit for me. Time to meet with other BRCA carriers to hear their experiences. Time to adjust to my new label.

When you first hear something like this, I think an easy tendency is to rush into making decisions. To make a plan. To set out on a specific course of action so that you feel you have control over a very uncontrollable situation. And since I'm a doer, it was just the reminder I needed to hear to take a deep breath, gain some perspective and take my time.

So tomorrow I'm attending a FORCE meeting here in Santa Monica and will get that opportunity to ask other BRCA carriers about what this means for them and learn a little bit about their experience, so I can ultimately learn more about what this means for me.

I'm feeling better than I did before, but am still totally overwhelmed by my new label.


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