2.21.2012

Genes in My Jeans

I'm about to get all sorts of Wiki on you people.

Several genetic test have been run to see if I have the colon cancer gene.

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Clause colon cancer gene. Because of the HIGH unlikelihood that someone under 50 would get colon cancer, they have to consider that I might be a carrier and thus explain why I got it at such a tender age.

It's referred to as Hereditary Nonpolyposis Colorectal Cancer (HNPCC) or Lynch Syndrome.

I got to swish a little Scope at my last colonoscopy and my DNA was sent off for testing. $3000 worth of testing.

Props Nancy!
My surgeon's patient care nurse warned me that the lab may call and tell me that my insurance doesn't cover the test and to "JUST SAY NO!" Nancy Reagan-style if they want to proceed. Apparently it's not worth the bill I'd get, but it's a non-issue because it was covered.

I'm assuming I'll get those results when I see my surgeon for a follow up next month. It makes no difference to me now as it doesn't impact my current treatment.

Last week when we saw my oncologist, he said he'd run another genetic test and I don't have something called Micorsatellite Instability (MSI). Surprise! According to him, that would mean I don't have HNPCC. Can't have one without the other! He didn't blatantly say it, he just implied it. I think he'll let my surgeon confirm it.

I'm still trying to wrap my mind around the basic idea of DNA, so they lost me pretty early on. Clearly I need to watch more CSI: Miami to better understand genetic sequencing. We rented Contagion this weekend and I didn't follow all the DNA talk in that movie either. Something tells me the actors were acting like they did, too. I think I need to get out my VHS tapes from the OJ Simpson trail for a refresher course.

This is good news on several levels. People with HNPCC have an 80% chance of getting colon cancer in their lifetime. Since I can check that off my bucket list, let's move on to other facts.

They also have an increased risk of getting cancer of the endometirum, ovaries, stomach, small intestine, brain, skin, urinary tract, and on and on and on. So yes, that is a sigh of relief you heard.

People with HNPCC have a 50% chance of passing it to their kids. It would have meant genetic testing for the boys and a prospect of getting colonoscopies starting when they are 18. Merrick doesn't really know how happy he will be about that yet. Then again, this is the kid who saw a thermometer at Target and loudly said:

"Mom, look! There's a thermometer just like the one you stick in my BUTT to tell me how much my BUTT hurts!" 

"BUTT hurts" = rectal thermometer usage and temperature taking.

Merrick also won't know he doesn't have to get them starting at 18. I'm going to keep that little tidbit of information in my Secret Pocket of Parental Lies (SPPL) in the event he turns out to be a total turd of a teenager. Then I will dangle it above his head as a threat for any unwanted adolescent behavior.

In reality, the boys will both start getting colonoscopies 10 years prior to my diagnosis, or 24. I'm hoping by 24 they will be more willing participants than they might be at 18.


*The SPPL includes but is not limited to the Tooth Fairy, Santa Clause, the Easter Bunny, girls having cooties, Jesus making aliens, broccoli giving you muscles, cats being evil, Mommy having naturally blond hair, etc.

No comments: