Friday, August 27, 2010

My Friend V


It is rare for our telephone to ring after 7.30pm, so there was a surprise element when Haydn answered it last night. I was even more taken aback to be told that it was for me. The voice was that of V from Group 33 [Breast Cancer Support Group] who sounded different, somehow. Group members are familiar with V's antics. In many ways she is very much the leader in our special group of caring friends. In my effort to protect my right arm I invariably end up being thumped by V in some way during our get togethers. It is her way of making a point; I have not yet learned how to avoid it.

Carol, the Breast Care Nurse at the Mater hospital acted as facilitator for the group, which began meeting early 2006. The time spent was enjoyable; it seems we all looked forward to the 2 hours we were together each fortnight. We were given every opportunity to learn about various services offered post surgery and treatment. Some group members were in the midst of either chemotherapy or radiotherapy at that time. It is always interesting to note just how far individual members have come on their journey. Appearance is not the only thing to change.

Although at times it appeared that I had not remembered each group member's name, I was acutely aware of V. How could I not help but feel her pain when she shared with the group that her husband was diagnosed with prostate cancer; and they underwent treatment around the same time. I still remember how I felt on hearing this news. And then there was the luncheon held at the farm early in 2010 when she was sprouting the fact that she was wearing a G-string.

At the last luncheon V discussed with us that she had been tested for the BRCA gene. Her doctor, Professor Forbes having made the recommendation knowing that V's sister has been under going treatment for multiple cancers over many years. Her niece [sister's daughter] has recently completed her treatment for cervical cancer. There appears to be a very definite family history. This is not the case in my family.

V's call was one that she was reluctant to make, having been given the news that she has an aggressive form of the BRCA2 gene. The prognosis was definitely not what she wanted to hear. The recommendation is for her to undergo prophylactic surgery and treatment. Professor Forbes has recommended a minimum of 5 years of uninterrupted Femara which is an Aromatose Inhibitor and used for hormone positive cancers. V is aware that I am currently taking this particular drug; it seemed natural for her to talk to me about her own situation.

What could I say knowing that I currently have a blood clot almost the full length of my right arm? One of the less commonly reported side effects is blood clotting but we never know which of us will be in that group. Seems this particular drug also puts me at risk of other cancers, stroke and heart attack. There is every chance I'll be dammed if I do and dammed if I don't.

On a more positive note, I was able to lead V in the general direction of a fellow blogger; Breast Cancer: Fight now by Dr Aaron Tabor. As luck would have it, his last Post was on the subject of the BRCA gene.

In the meantime I will be keeping V in my prayers. She has three beautiful daughters who will also be looking to undergo testing.


mandy said...

I`m terribly sorry to hear about your friend Chez....On a positive note at least she has found out early and can hopefully prevent any forms of cancer....
Many years ago a friend of mine had both her breast removed for fear that she may get breast cancer as it was hereditary within her family...She said she wanted to be around to see her young family grow up so I guess we all do what`s best for us as individuals....

diane b said...

It must be comforting to have a group to talk to, with similar problems. Hopefully your friend will stay stable for a while yet.

Jeanne Marren Egan said...

So sorry to hear about your friend. On a positive note, there was a study that recently appeared in the Journal of American Medicine that showed that patients who had BRCA1 and BRCA2 who underwent prophylactic surgery(both mastectomy and ooperectomy) had a greatly reduced of risk of breast and ovarian cancer. Of the 247 patients who underwent prophylactic mastectomy NONE of the patients developed breast cancer. The good thing is that she has the opportunity to help other family members who might be at risk as well as herself.