by Corinne Florin
When I got my diagnosis of stage IIIa, grade 3, clear cell ovarian cancer, it was such a shock that not a lot of information sunk in. I may or may not have discussed genetic testing but I just don't remember. I was aware that genetic testing existed, but during my recovery and subsequent treatment I didn't think about it. However, during meetings with my two ovarian cancer support groups, the topic would arise, and I started to consider it more seriously. I finally made an appointment for the blood work to be drawn for the testing.
I decided to have the testing done for several reasons:
- I wanted to address my concern (and curiosity) about the possibility of my daughter, granddaughter, and sister being personally affected by this disease.
- My mother may or may not have had breast cancer. We three siblings are not entirely sure. She didn't tell us until several years after her mastectomy, but she never had any kind of treatment such as chemotherapy or radiation, so we’re not sure what the actual diagnosis was.
- My maternal grandmother had a hysterectomy sometime during the 1940s, but the only thing we ever knew was that it was for “female troubles.” Chances are it wasn't for any type of cancer, but we just can't say for sure.
My genetic testing was done after I finished treatment. My last chemo was February 2015, my last PET scan was March 2015, and my testing was in December 2015. I had been declared NED (No Evidence of Disease) by my gynecologic oncologist by that time, and I am currently without symptoms of recurrence.
My test results show no BRCA 1, BRCA 2 or other inherited gene mutation, leading my genetic counselor and me believe my cancer was a fluke: just “one of those things.” I’m not alone. I learned that as many as 80% of women with ovarian cancer do not have an inherited mutation. I’m glad I had genetic testing; it has put my family at ease. Although we know there is no guarantee, my female relatives are relieved to know that they do not have a very high risk for ovarian cancer.
Corinne is a retired librarian, currently living with two cats Broderick and Bruja. She has two grown kids and two of the cutest grandkids ever! She splits her time between Minnesota and Montana.