Breast Cancer with a Twist
By: H. Z. Ben-Nahum, Sharsheret Volunteer
Over 20 years ago, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I was in my late 40’s, athletic, and health-conscious. The day it all began will be imprinted on my mind forever. I was enjoying a game of tennis, when the ball hit my nipple. I noticed that my nipple had swollen and had not returned to normal even after several days. Concerned, I decided to consult a doctor. I was advised to schedule surgery as soon as possible. I underwent a radical mastectomy, followed by treatment. Genetic testing wasn’t on my radar screen as Myriad Labs only discovered how to test for the BRCA gene five years after my initial diagnosis. I now have two adult children. My daughter recently approached me requesting that I undergo genetic testing because she was worried about her own risk of developing breast cancer. I obliged and am grateful that I tested BRCA-. For now, they will continue to have increased surveillance. I am living with metastatic breast cancer to the lungs, I’m experiencing side effects from treatment, but I stay active and busy. I still worry about my children and their risk of developing cancer, just like all mothers diagnosed with breast cancer. The only thing that makes me different is that I AM THEIR FATHER. I am lending my voice to raise awareness that breast cancer can be passed along from father to daughter. We must continue to protect our futures and those of our children by remembering to include the paternal family history when considering our children’s genetic risk of developing breast cancer. I hope that by sharing my story with Sharsheret, we can save lives.