In October in recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness I will post a daily blog with a reflection about breast cancer. The reflections will stem from something in the play. (All quoted lines are text from the play.)
Day 16: Chemistry. “There was more news from the chemistry of Susan’s cancer.” I learn that there are chemical markers that are indicators of the likelihood of the cancer recurrence or spread. One marker is if the cancer is estrogen receptor positive or negative. If it is “positive” then there are drugs like Tomaxifin that can suppress the cancers recurrence or spread. There is also a protein marker known as HER2/neu, which if present means drugs can be used to suppress the cancer. In each case all of Susan’s markers were negative. In 2000 they did not use the term, but today it is called “triple negative.” That is the three different chemical markers which would, if positive, suggest the cancer, even though it has traveled through the lymph nodes, could be suppressed were negative. Susan was triple negative. The news though didn’t surprise me. I had come to expect it. “I already figured out what the ballroom meant. It was waiting for Susan and me to walk out onto the dance floor.” The sense of inevitability just grew.
Stat of the Day: An estimated 5% to 10% of all breast cancers are directly attributable to inherited gene mutations, most often to mutations in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes.
Task of the Day: Talk to a genetic counselor if you have breast cancer in your family, especially if you are Jewish from an Ashkenazi background. A reminder from an earlier task to create a medical history of your family, not just you but for as many generations back as you can find accurate information.
Resource of the Day: Thanks to “Every Woman Counts” check this out: Designed to help patients and clinicians learn more about BRCA gene mutations, Know:BRCA is an efficient way to gather detailed family cancer information and identify women with increased risk for a BRCA mutation using an evidence based algorithm. The tool is HIPPA compliant, and results can be downloaded directly into electronic medical records. Know: BRCA also provides clinical guidance for care providers and support resources for patients. For more information about the Know:BRCA tool, please visit the Centers for Disease Control website at: http://www.cdc.gov/cancer/breast/young_women/knowbrca.htm.