I’m so excited to have my first guest blogger, Tina Hutton Selkirk. I went to high school with Tina, but we did not know each other terribly well. When I saw her again recently as she will describe below, she was a welcome ray of Sunshine in this crappy bag of shit I stepped into.
Before I hand it over to Tina, here is how I feel today:
Shaky hands continue. I dropped 3, yes, 3 Pop Tarts this morning (TRAGEDY). Tastebuds are shot. I mean, gone. Every liquid tastes like sawdust milk and a strawberry almost brought me to my knees this morning. I have spent most of the day in bed, not because I can’t get up, mostly because it feels safe.
Now please read, enjoy & listen to Tina’s words.
KNOW YOUR RISK FOR BREAST CANCER
“I’ve worked in an adult genetics clinic for the last 9 years, a place where women who are diagnosed with breast cancer at a young age is the norm. I’ve seen women walk in diagnosed in their mid-20s, women diagnosed during pregnancy, women diagnosed just after pregnancy while breastfeeding, other women diagnosed when they have young kids. All along the way thinking “this could be me.”
Enter Grace, who in all intents and purposes is me. We are the same age, we both have small kids, we grew up in the same community, we went to the same high school, we sat through the same AIS US history class with Mr Baeb (which left me with a surprising lack of knowledge for US history), we laughed at the same stupid shit going on in class. She is me.
For all I know about genetics, I have no idea why she got cancer and not me. There’s seemingly no rhyme or reason. It could be me. When I was telling my son I was planning on cutting my hair to support a friend who got sick and will lose her hair because of the medicine the doctors give her, he didn’t want me to do it. He got sad because he liked my hair the way it was (by the way, he still told me after I picked him up that he didn’t really like my new haircut even though you could tell he was genuinely wanting to be honest about how he felt) and I don’t have cancer. I’m not going to lose my hair. It’s going to grow out. The pink will fade or grow out, to be determined. I can’t imagine the fear going through Grace’s head about her kids and her kids’ concerns about her while she’s making this transformation, when she truly does lose her hair. But Grace is going to come through this even more of a badass than she started and her kids will be able to tell the world how tough their mom is. And her hair will grow back, although possibly with a temporarily different texture and color (sorry Grace if you weren’t aware of that potential side effect).
While this is Grace’s battle, she is paving the way for so many women to kick cancer in the balls. She’s the example of the warrior we all need to be. So now, when it does really end up being me, (a woman’s lifetime risk to develop breast cancer is 12% or 1 in 8) and it really could be me or it really could be you, we have Grace showing us how to get it done.
General population Breast cancer stats from Breastcancer.org
• If your current age is 20, the probability of developing invasive breast cancer in the next 10 years is .06%, or 1 in 1,732. This means that 1 in 1,732 women in this age group can expect to develop breast cancer. Put another way, your odds of developing breast cancer if you are in this age range are 1 in 1,732.
• If your current age is 30, the probability of developing invasive breast cancer in the next 10 years is .44%, or 1 in 228.
• If your current age is 40, the probability of developing invasive breast cancer in the next 10 years is 1.45%, or 1 in 69.
• If your current age is 50, the probability of developing invasive breast cancer in the next 10 years is 2.31%, or 1 in 43.
• If your current age is 60, the probability of developing invasive breast cancer in the next 10 years is 3.49%, or 1 in 29.
• If your current age is 70, the probability of developing invasive breast cancer in the next 10 years is 3.84%, or 1 in 26.
• If you have a personal history of early breast cancer, 45 years or younger, or a personal history of ovarian cancer, there may be a genetic cause…speak to your doctor about whether a referral for genetic counseling makes sense.
• If you have a family history (breast, ovarian, prostate, pancreatic), Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry, or a known gene mutation in your family your risks are higher than general population. If you’re concerned about your risk, speak with your doctor. You may benefit from a consultation with a genetic counselor.
• Assess your risk for breast cancer: https://www.assessyourrisk.org/?_ga=1.109907526.258436012.1467380870
• Resource for young women at risk for breast and ovarian cancer https://www.brightpink.org/
• Hair donation info for requirements and how to http://pantene.com/en-us/brandexperience/make-the-cut
-Tina Hutten Selkirk, MS, CCRP is a clinical research associate for the Center for Medical Genetics at NorthShore University HealthSystem. She conducts research on genetic causes of breast cancer such as the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes. She is also the NorthShore-site principal investigator for an international prostate cancer screening study for men with BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations or Lynch syndrome. She lives in Chicago and is a single mom of two boys, age 2 and 6.”