Thursday, August 26, 2010

Maybe just a freak thing

Mike and I met the genetic counselor yesterday who had gone over Mike's "pedigree" aka family history.  I always think of Mike having a really big family, but in reality, while he has a lot of half-uncles there are not many full aunts and uncles.  Because of this there isn't enough family history to go on to get a strong "yes it is hereditary" or "no it is not."

Basically we're looking at three possibilities.  The first is that this was a weird, freak, single event that just happened because Mike is one of the 6 in 100 people that will get colon cancer.  The other two possibilities will be deteremined by genetic testing.

Hereditary colon cancer is caused by an altered gene that is passed on in a family.  One potential hereditary form is Lynch Syndrome or HNPCC (Hereditary Non-Polyposis Colorectal Cancer).  People with HNPCC have an 80% risk of developing colorectal cancer during their life. 

MYH-associated polyposis is the other possibility.  Typically, this causes multiple colon polyps and is caused by a recessive gene, meaning both parents must be carriers and their children have a 1 in 4 chance of having MYH.  Mike only had one polyp (which was cancerous) in addition to the tumor, but it is probable that the tumor started as a polyp, which is why he will also be tested for this.

For the time being we just go on with life, which I must say, is kind of a relief.  Nothing more can be done until we get results in about 4 weeks. 

Not sure how much more I'll feel a need to blog until then.  We'll see.  Sometimes feelings and thoughts just seem to creep up out of nowhere and catch me off guard. 

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Next up - Genetic Counseling

Apparently, life is getting back to normal considering I haven't posted since last Thursday.   Today Mike was up at 3:30 am, at work by 4:30, taking down trees at our CSA farm by 2:00 and home at 4:30.  10 minutes of conversation and then Zoey & I were off to ballet and then a church meeting for me.  That sounds about right.  It's crazy, but that's our life and I wouldn't trade if for anything.

Tomorrow is the next step in our journey - meeting with the genetic counselor in Madison.  I don't know what to expect, but imagine that she'll list the pros and cons of genetic testing.  I don't know what she could tell us that would make us say, "No, we don't want to find out anything."  But, apparently there are a lot of people that just don't want to know if they have genetic markers that could be significant for themselves and/or their children.  Maybe it's fear or maybe it's optimism that would cause someone to make that decision.  For me, being as educated as possible, having as much information as possible and knowing what our options are is what helps me feel more in control of a situation that I have had little control over.

Because of all of this I have also started researching our family histories on ancestry.com.  I am now officially addicted, I think.  Maybe that's why I haven't blogged lately...

The catalyst was finding out that Eastern European Jews are at a higher risk for Lynch Syndrome, which is the main genetic marker for colon cancer risk.  As far as Mike knows he has no Jewish ancestry.  However, his family is from Lithuania & Austria so the potential is there.  Again, maybe it's a stretch, but by DOING something I feel like I have a bit more control.  As an added bonus, it's been really cool to find out where our families are from.

No doubt I'll have more to post tomorrow.