Thursday, February 11, 2016

This Simple Test May Have Saved My Life

by Heather Fair, Guest Blogger

Every day we, as parents, try to prevent our children from getting sick. We research, ask questions, and seek educated opinions because our children's health and well-being matters. Well, Mamas, we matter too; we need to be doing the same for ourselves. Anyone who has flown in a plane knows that to be of service to others you have to take care of yourself first. That is how I view genetic testing. It is a means of ensuring the best chance humanly possible that you will be on hand for every milestone in your child's life. I did my genetic testing for my children, my husband, and myself. I did this for my family, for all of us.

 As an adolescent, I watched helplessly as my mother went through a rather aggressive pre-menopausal breast cancer when she was just a little older than I am now. It was awful. It put her and our family through so much, and sadly my only available course of prevention for years was routine monitoring and praying that I would never have to repeat that scenario with my own family.
  I am getting a head start that so many more people deserve and have available to them but may not know about. I say let's get the word out.

Well, I "lucked" out. While nursing my third child, I developed mastitis (That's not the lucky bit. LOL) and was told by a breast doctor that I would need to have my mother genetically screened for hereditary gene mutation since she had already had cancer. In my particular situation, this was not a viable option. I could, however, have the screening myself. Nevertheless, insurance wouldn’t cover it, and the cost was in the range of $4000-5000 out of pocket. 

The "luck" came after some research when I read of an initiative set in motion by Hudson Alpha here in our very own Research Park to provide breast cancer gene screenings for $99, $199 or even free depending on age, gender and location. WOW!! I was able to register for my kit the very first day it became available. It was so straightforward. They mailed me a cheek swab kit with super simple instructions (Think crime show cheek swab easy.) which I followed and then mailed back. Couldn't have been easier. They later contacted me with my results. I quickly found that in cases like mine where a mutation is found, they even had some local resources to suggest. By this point, I was far beyond luck and undeniably into pure blessing! 
This simple kit can provide you with
important genetic information 

I've now known what mutation I have for a little over two weeks, and I am already well on my way to my personal path of prevention: One made for me, by me and specifically tailored to me with the help of so many wonderful professionals ON MY TERMS without the stress of a crisis situation. I am getting a head start that so many more people deserve and have available to them but may not know about. I say let's get the word out. This isn’t the only program of its kind; it was just the best one for me.

I would encourage anyone with a family history of cancer to look into this program or one similar to it for affordable testing. Advocate for yourself like you would your children. Be fierce and go for it. Knowledge is power, and for me, that statement has never been truer than now!

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