I have held tightly to the mantra that once you’re a cancer patient-you will always be a cancer patient.
People have debated this point with me saying that they just want to go back to living their “normal life” or saying they are “cured”. I’ve never used that verbiage because frankly, the minute I feel complacent or let my guard down, I feel it will come back at me.
Instead, I take the very active position to screen and utilize constant surveillance. I have had two cancers, both caused by the same genetic mutation. (BRCA2)
The BRCA2 mutation means that the gene that is supposed to protect us from cancer, and that every one of us carries, has become faulty. Instead of protecting us, it makes us more susceptible to certain cancers: Breast, Prostate, Ovarian, Pancreatic and Melanoma.
I have already been diagnosed with the first two and I’m under constant surveillance and testing in case they decide to return.
As a man, I didn’t think I had to worry about breast cancer, but I was wrong! Men do have breasts and breast tissue.
I’m fairly certain I do not have ovaries, so I can eliminate the third. But I do have skin and a pancreas, so those two cancers are still in play with my mutation.
I do twice a year melanoma checks with my dermatologist. In between, I keep an active eye for any skin changes or abnormalities. I have caught two basal cell carcinomas early, by just being aware of changes to my skin.
Today I did another one of my annual screenings, an EUS.
An Endoscopic Ultrasound will go down your esophagus and scan for any lesions throughout your upper GI tract and Pancreas. As most know, pancreatic cancer is one of the most deadly forms of the disease. The primary reason it has such a high mortality rate is because while confined to the pancreas it is asymptomatic.
Most people have no idea it formed and is growing. Symptoms don’t appear until it has spread and metastasized to other organs. By then, it is more difficult to treat.
Knowing I have a risk with my mutation, I do this procedure annually. I do know my risk, even though the BRCA2 mutation is fairly low. But there was only a 6.5% chance I was going to get Breast Cancer. I’m not good at playing the odds, since I have a propensity to defy them.
Today was a good day. I had my EUS and it was “unremarkable”. I never knew that was such a great word, until I became a Cancer Patient . I love hearing “UNREMARKABLE”!
That’s correct. I am a Cancer Patient and have been for the past 15 years. I have become very good at it. I do not need any doctor to tell me what I have to do or for what I need to test. Usually, I tell them! I guess you can call me a “professional cancer patient”.
I accept that fact as I continue to live, work, advocate and enjoy my life.
You see…YOU CAN DO BOTH!
Editor; Harvey I. Singer, Cofounder HIS Breast Cancer Awareness