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Home » Fit Families, Headline

Think Outside The Bra: To Test or Not to Test, that is the question?

Submitted by on October 11, 2011 – 6:04 AMNo Comment
Think Outside The Bra: To Test or Not to Test, that is the question?

Each year in honor of breast cancer awareness month, I talk about how nutrition and exercise can decrease and in some cases prevent the onset of breast cancer.  I talk about being pre-disposed because of family history, lifestyle, etc. But this year, with advancements and awareness of the BRCA gene, I wanted to think “outside the bra” and get you thinking about genetic testing.  I wanted to take a break from talking to you about the benefits of exercise and nutrition (because lord knows they are the support wire in the bra of life).

Presently, blood tests are able to determine if our BRCA genes are mutated. They are able to determine if there is an increase in our chances of getting breast cancer .  Is this a good thing?  How can we know if it’s a good thing when we might not be sure what  BRCA testing is and how it works.”  Ok, ok.  Don’t put your bra on inside out.   Simply put, EVERYONE  has the BRCA 1 and BRCA 2 genes.  (By the way BRCA is short for Breast Cancer Gene 1 and Breast Cancer Gene 2). But not everyone gets breast or ovarian cancer (and in the case of men – prostate cancer).  It all depends if the genes mutate; and how they mutate since not every mutation is a harmful one.  Some are actually beneficial and help the cells ward off other diseases.

Now try and stay with me as this gets confusing…As a mother of a daughter, whose sister –in-law recently passed from ovarian cancer (after 11 years) and whose husband has YET to be tested because it does run in his family;  the question is…”do we have our daughter tested?”  My husband has three brothers and they have been tested.  Some have the gene mutation and some do not.  And with that in mind, my sister-in-law has three daughters.  Not only did she have ovarian cancer but her husband had prostate cancer (and thankfully caught it early) and is still going strong.  But, her children whom are all grown women decided to have the test done.  The oldest tested negative and has three beautiful daughters of her own starting at age 5 and on down to a few months old.  The middle sister tested negative.  And the youngest, only 2 years out of nursing school… does have the mutation.  To that,  the questions are… “Do we have our daughter tested now  and worry throughout her life if she tests positive… or do we do everything we can to give her the tools to decrease her risk and wait until she is much older and can emotionally handle the testing?”  But we also need to consider why we want to have her tested?  And why should anyone test for that matter? Well simply put,  the human brain can cause things to happen to our bodies; that the power of the mind is so strong that we can create illnesses out of fear of that very illness. To help alleviate that risk, genetic counselors are there to talk you through the process and discuss the options available both prior to and when you receive your results.  They are there to help you with your decision to get tested, and to discuss the results with you.  What would you think if I told you that some women decide to be preventative based on their results and do a proactive double mastectomy and hysterectomy?   Extreme or Preventative Maintenance?   Are women risking quality of life in the effort to save their lives on their percent chance of becoming ill?  Those are some odds.  It’s like being the ONE and ONLY girl who gets wears the actual Swarovski covered bra from Victoria’s Secret. So again, it’s back to the “why” of getting our daughter tested…

Gaya is only 7 years of age and her training bra is not even a glimmer in our eyes yet.  Despite that she is aware of what breasts are; that she was breastfed and that there are both fake and natural ones in all shapes and sizes (which BTW, that was a fun conversation lol).  But seriously, what if she does have the mutation?  Do we live our whole lives in fear of  the “if and when” the bra strap will break?  Or do we not test her and do everything we can to decrease her chances and control the things that we can.  For example, ensuring an active lifestyle and that she learns the value of healthy nutrition; keeping her stress levels down by ensuring an appropriate work load, serene home life and most of all plenty of laughter and love.  But is that human?  Curiosity is an inherent emotion.  Can anyone really answer if the Wonder bra is truly a wonder or is it simply pretty fabric created to divert your attention from what’s real? Can we go our whole lives without worrying?

Now  I  “wonder” why my husband is waiting?  Does he have bra envy or is he just being a boob?  As a pro athlete, he does symbolize health.  But, internally can we ever really know what is going on with an actual measurement?

This is something that I think about all the time.  Initially, my husband was waiting because years ago when we were getting life insurance, he did not want it to affect our ability to acquire protection, you know like a padded bra.  However, today there are laws in place which protect consumers/patients from life and health insurance companies exercising the “pre existing” condition factor to determine your plan… you know 36A demi-cup coverage or 42DD granny bra coverage.

Then why is he still waiting?  Perhaps fear? Although he would never admit it.  But isn’t ignorance bliss, the “if I don’t know about it, it doesn’t exist theory”.  As a male he hasn’t had the pleasure of a retail specialist lifting his breast up into a bra to find the perfect size.  Or had his primary care physician cop a feel under the guise of checking for lumps.   If he had, he might be thinking about if his bra fits and what coverage he would need.  I am hoping after he reads this article that we can find the answers to the question of whether to test or not to test.  That we will be able to think outside the bra and determine what size we are and what fit is right for both he; our daughter and our family.

All I can say is you and your family are the only ones who can determine what feels comfortable and how much support you need.  I am asking you to think about it.  Try it on.  And who knows you might just find the answers that can perk you up!

You can find out more information on BRCA testing on the following websites: www.medicinenet.com, www.mayoclinic.com, www.ncpad.org (national center on physical activity and disability) and www.ideafit.com to name a few.

Nancy Matican Bock is a native New Yorker transplanted to Melbourne Beach after surviving 9/11.  She has been a certified personal trainer for over 20 years.  She is a motivational coach, mother, wife, entrepreneur, and philanthropist.

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