I’ve spent some time reflecting on things lately. There are so many temporary things that fill our time, meetings, sports, school, etc. A lot of these temporary things are on pause while the world tries to navigate this pandemic. What I have come to realize, however, is that not everything is temporary. Some things don’t stop amidst a worldwide pandemic. One of those things is our health.
Our health is so fragile, and I received yet another reminder of that recently. At my ten year cancer check up, I received the all clear. I was ecstatic, as this meant I was finally done being monitored and was “out of the woods.” However, my oncologist raised the concern for a possible genetic mutation that would put me at risk for developing cancer moving forward. Due to my personal history of two rare cancerous tumors that are associated with this mutation, she recommended I do further testing to rule it out.
After some quick blood work, I received a call to tell me that I do, in fact, carry a genetic mutation in my TP53 gene. This mutation is called Li-Fraumeni Syndrome. Now, before you get all freaked out, let me preface that I am totally healthy right now. No need to worry!
However, this genetic mutation puts me at a very high risk to develop cancer throughout my lifetime. This comes as no surprise, as I had an adrenal tumor when I was 2 years old that they were unable to diagnose due to the complexity of the cells. I also had osteosarcoma when I was 16 years old. Although the adrenal tumor was never deemed cancerous for sure, I think all signs now point in that direction after knowing that adrenal carcinoma is one of the main cancers associated with Li-Fraumeni Syndrome.
This newly found genetic mutation that I carry really is the missing puzzle piece that explains why I developed two extremely rare forms of tumors at such young ages. This is also a very important piece of my puzzle moving forward. As I think about the coming months and years of my life, I am going to have to make some really important decisions regarding my health. But, what I keep reminding myself is that I am in an incredibly powerful position to have this knowledge and be able to be proactive about my health.
We all, to some degree, have this same ability. However, I think this pandemic has given a lot of people an “out” to put off their health. The pandemic may be temporary, but your long term health is not. So, I hope this can serve as your reminder today to do something for your health. Eat that salad (did I really just say that?), exercise, or set up that long overdue doctor’s appointment. Put yourself in control of your health and start being more proactive. We never know when it could be too late!