Ever since the day our mother was diagnosed back in 2007, my sisters and I have debated whether to get tested for the BRCA gene. At the time my doctor was adamant that I not be tested, that it would put me at risk, from an insurance perspective, of being labeled as having an "existing condition" and refused coverage should I ever unfortunately need it.
I didn't really mind. With my family's health history, I never really felt the need to be tested. I operate on the assumption that I will, at some point or another, get breast cancer. I operate on the assumption that my two daughters are also in the high risk category.
For my sister, that wasn't good enough.
But really, whether she ended up getting tested or not isn't the issue. The simple fact that we can have this discussion is.
For my grandmother's generation there was no test for 'at risk' genes, there was no screening for breast cancer, there wasn't even much choice for treatment. For my mother's generation things were better, and for ours, well, it's a whole other landscape.
Whenever I think of breast cancer, or any other type of cancer, I think of all the doctors and scientists working hard in their labs doing their best to eradicate cancer in their lifetime. I think of people like my little sister who dedicate their days to finding a cure.
And I want to do my part.
But I'm not a scientist and I'm not a doctor. So I can't help in that way.
I do, however, have something that I can bring to the table, something we all have.
I have blood and I have my story.
Those scientists and doctors need something to study and you and I can give it to them.
In our generation 1 in 3 women will have cancer in her lifetime. 1 in 2 men will have cancer in his. If those numbers horrify you the way they horrify me, read on.
ACS Cancer Prevention Study-3 ~ CPS-3 - AKA, How you can get involved.
The American Cancer Society is running Cancer Prevention Study-3 (CPS-3), a huge nationwide long-term study that seeks to better understand the factors (lifestyle, environmental, genetic) that cause or prevent cancer and ultimately will help eliminate cancer as a major health concern for future generations.
They're looking for 300 000 people between 30 and 65 years old who have never been diagnosed with cancer (not including basal or squamous cell skin cancer)and are willing to make a long-term commitment to the study, which involves completing periodic follow-up surveys at home.
If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area now's the time to get involved. Recruitment is taking place in the following places:
• Alameda (July 20-August 3)Registration details here.
• Marin County (July 24-August 7)
• San Francisco (July 17-August 10)
• San Mateo (July 24-August 10)
• Santa Clara (July 13-August 10)
If you live elsewhere in the US, check the ACS CPS-3 page to see when and where recruitment is taking place in your area.
Participation in the study is a long term kind of thing. The study is slated to run for 20
years. OK, fine, that might be a tad daunting. But remember, CPS-3 offers us an historic opportunity -- a once in a generation opportunity -- to be personally involved in research that will advance ACS’ understanding of the lifestyle, environmental, and genetic factors that cause cancer.
That means that with a blood and by answering a few questions every couple of years we can help create a world with less cancer for our children. A world with more birthdays.
I'm lucky, my mom and my aunts are still around to celebrate their birthdays. I know way too many people who aren't. I want to do my part to change that for my kids and their kids.
(Please note: While I was compensated for my participation in learning and sharing about CPS-3 through Women Online/The Mission List, all opinions and stories stated here are mine and mine alone.)