Thursday, March 20, 2008

More Info on Genetic Testing

So I had the interview appointment.

I am still waiting for the letter that will tell me what the computer model says is the percentage of probability that my test could come back positive.

I heard from the testing company after they checked my insurance benefits.

The test is $3750. My insurance does cover it, but since I have not paid my deductible yet this year, it would still cost me around $700 out of pocket. If I had done it last year when my deductible had been met many times over, it would have only cost me $200.

But that doesn't really matter. If I was convinced that I needed the test, of course I would do it. Regardless of the cost. They even take payments with no interest.

So I know that while I grouse about the cost of it, that is not my real objection.

I am seriously considering not doing it because I believe the probablity that I have the mutation is very low, and if I did have it, I would not want that information on my health insurance files for the rest of my life.

I am also standing up and saying "enough". Enough tests. Enough doctor's appointments. Enough statistics that are talking about my life span. Enough doing things based out of fear. I have made the best choices that I could with every treatment option that has been offered to me. And so far, my choices have been on the conservative side.

But this time, I'm voting for taking my chances.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Genetic Counseling Appointment

I've got an appointment for this Wednesday.

No point in waiting any longer since I know I need to do it.

I'm not going to worry until I have a reason to, but even just scheduling the appointment had that same surreal feeling that scheduling appointments for biopsies, surgeries, and chemotherapies had.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Oncologist Follow Up - Genetic Testing

I had another routine follow up with my oncologist yesterday.

I'm having a few side effects from the Tamoxifen. I get bruising on my legs and sometimes my knees swell up after I go dancing. He wasn't surprised and said they should not get any worse. I'm telling myself that those symptoms are a good sign since that means the drug is working. If it is doing a couple of annoying things, well then it is busy doing the good stuff too.

Then we talked about genetic testing. He recommends that I do it. I agree. Since I am this young and my Mom did have breast cancer, it is better to be safe than sorry.

But! That does not make it any easier to hear or to go through.

Of course, I realize that if I do have that mutation, I need to know. I need to know for me, I need to know for all the other women in my fam.

But, I really don't need another white knuckler now do I?

I'll go through the anxiety of the interview. Then, if I do need the test, the long wait for results. If I'm off the hook after all that, that's awesome. If it came back positive, that's a nightmare. A good nightmare in a way because there is a lot of preventative stuff I can do, but that preventative stuff is surgical. More surgeries, more recovery. I really can't bare to think about that.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

A Nod to Proust

Ever have a food really remind you of someone?

But you forgot that it reminded you?

Here's what I mean. While I was on that de-tox diet, the very first day I was strapped for breakfast options, so I ended up in an unfamiliar section of an unfamiliar grocery store. While looking for organic oatmeal, I found Malt O Meal. I could not have it right away, but I bought some out of nostaligia and put it in the pantry.

A week or so ago, I had an unexpected work from home day due to snow and ice. So I was up and ready to go at six, but I didn't need to get he kids up or commute, so I had time to think about having a hot breakfast. So I made the Malt O Meal. My mom used to make it for me all the time when I was little. She made the chocolate flavor and served it with a dribble of milk on top and some raisins. I loved the stuff. I had forgotten all about it til I saw some sitting on the store shelf.

When I was making it, I learned that you have to slowly stir the mix into the boiling water so you don't make lumps, and you have to stir constantly for 2 and a half minutes while it cooks. As I stood over the stove making it, I got such strong memories of my mom that I could almost see her, standing at the stove in the house I was raised in, while I sat in a chair, feet dangling, knees scabby, wearing my dreaded catholic school girl uniform, bobby socks and Vans tennis shoes, waiting for the hot breakfast that she made before she sent me off to school.

A lot of foods remind me of people in my life. Campbell's chicken noodle soup reminds me of my mom, so does shrimp, peanuts (two of her favorite foods ever, put them together in something like Kung Pao shrimp and she was in heaven) coffee, iced tea, chocolate. Brandy Alexanders since she insisted on buying me one with every meal (yes even breakfast) on the day I turned 21.

Matzo ball soup reminds me of her and my brother. The first time I ever had matzo ball soup, I was around 11 or so, and my brother took us all to a restaurant in L.A. called "The Eater's Digest". I remember the name because my mom loved Reader's Digest and I have a life long affection for puns. I thought Matzo ball soup was amazing and I could not believe I had lived so many years without knowing about it. So that's why I can't have some without thinking of my brother. It reminds me of my mom because we had a deli by our house (Benji's - how I hope it is still there. I would lose some of my faith in all that is right and holy if it ever closed), and we often went there since I loved it so much. My idea of the perfect meal then was the large bowl (TWO matzo balls) with those skinny egg noodles, rye bread with butter and kosher dill pickles. That's just how they served it. You ordered the soup the rye bread and pickles just showed up.

Bagels, falafel, and Haagen Dazs reminds me of my brother too. He bought me my first (well, after I raved about the first one, he bought a whole grocery bag full to bring home) bagel. I was probably a young teen by then. I remember thinking "how could I not know about these little wonders?". Snickerdoodles remind me of his first wife, she made them one day, and I ate the entire container that she was saving for a church gathering. Ooops. Shredded carrots remind me of her too. I ate at their house one evening and she made a variety of side dishes. She liked to cook and she made things that were more elaborate than I was used to. One of the side dishes was pretty much pureed and seasoned carrots. I remember thinking what a boat load of work that had to be, a lot of torture to put a carrot through so you can end up with orange paste. It was good, but didn't seem worth the effort to me.

My brother also took me to Westwood and introduced me to falafel, Haagen Dasz and not on the same trip, the first Star Wars movie. We waited in line for hours to see it.

Pupu platter will always remind me of my eldest son, steak in any form of my youngest. Hummus makes me think of my friends at work, yellow tomatoes make me think of my niece and my brother.

It's kind of like a bonus. You can enjoy whatever food you are eating, but at the same time you get a vivid reminder of so many people, and places and times.

So why the title of this post? Proust wrote this huge opus called "Remembrance of Things Past". It is one of my goals to read the whole thing some day. I have not even bought a copy yet, so I'm a little behind on that. Anyway, I've heard that at one point, he eats a Madeline (a pastry) and the first bite transports him so vividly back to his childhood that he spends pages and pages in revery.

I thought about this last night too. My husband and I went out to Cincinnati's only four stare restuarant, Pigall's. We were celebrating. Celebrating Valentine's Day and my birthday coming up and really I think just celebrating the chance to go out together and share our appreciation for food.

We used to eat at great and expensive (obviously a restaurant does not have to be expensive to be good, but it helps) restaurants all the time. But then we had kids! The very last time we ate at a French restaurant was when our first son was a newborn. Since then, there has been no time/money for that kind of meal. Our son is 17 now, so it sure has been a while.

The atmosphere and decor were OK, nothing spectacular. That's actually something I like about Cincinnati, they don't go for gaudy much around here. The food was spectacular. The experience of having some quiet time together to just enjoy the time and the food was wonderful. As we sat there though, I flashed on so much of our past together. The days before children when we travelled and had adventures and ate so many meals together. The next phase when the children got here and we shared worried looks over the tiny head of a feverish baby, confusion as we learned the hard way the difference between a great little league coach and a poor one, many meals that revolved around spaghetti or pizza, and how to make a pinewood derby car without accidentally chopping one of your own limbs off.

Now we are moving into a new phase where there is a little more time and money so we can weave in elements of our early life together while still enjoying all the stuff that the kids bring - a rousing game of Pokemon cards, teaching someone to drive, making a science fair project (he got second place in the Physics division by the way, so it is off to the district finals for us next week), learning about books, music, dances and slang that I would never know if it weren't for having them in my life.

I wonder some day what foods they will eat or songs they will hear that will make them think of us?