BRCA and Brains

Did you hear Angelina Jolie has the BRCA 1 genetic mutation and had a bilateral mastectomy with immediate reconstruction to combat the effects? Because I heard. I have heard about it more than the Boston bombings. I don’t know if it’s actually newsworthy or if my tiny world of breast cancer is highlighting it. I am glad she was tested and is taking it seriously. I’m glad she’s drawing attention to it, because so many women don’t know about it. People don’t usually get tested until they are diagnosed with cancer. Obviously my life would have been very different if I had known. I think about it a lot because there’s a 50/50 chance my kids have it (assuming I still do, I’m still waiting on the results of the study I enrolled in, just to see if God changed my genetic makeup when He healed me. Come on, it’s God, that’s nothing for Him). Anyway, the knowledge of the BRCA test results can create fear and I hate that. I hate that cancer can control us like that, and ESPECIALLY that just the fear of it can affect us for the worse. But I did read her article and liked the positive approach to it. Instead of living in fear, she just got the surgeries.  The ovary removal is another strongly recommended procedure, but that affects us much more, so it’s a bigger deal. They won’t test anyone under 18 so I have about 13 more years of praying for my girls to not have the gene, and that if they do we will know how to handle it. I hate that they might ever be faced with that uncertainty, or the disfigurement, but I know that doing it as a preventive measure is immensely better than the way I had to do it. I know that anyone with that genetic mutation can take a different approach to their future than those without, but that doesn’t mean their actions will control cancer. But God can. He can control every disease, every germ, every multiplication or division of cells. We are all in for a miserable life if we confuse our ability to choose with the ability to control. 

Isaiah 46:9-10, “I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure.'”

BRCA genes and brains don’t exactly go hand-in-hand, BUT BRCA mutations lead to cancer, and cancer treatment messes with your…I lost my train of thought. Oh, right, your brain! People call it chemo brain, and refer to it in a similar way that you would joke about your brain when pregnant. Sadly though, I already went through the memory loss and distraction associated with having little ones, so I feel like chemo did extra damage to me. On a typical day it isn’t that big of a deal because I don’t use the same parts of my brain that seem to have been affected. On a normal day I just trudge through my to-do list, driving here or there, disciplining this one or that one, and trying to make it through the day without yelling. On a day like today though, I needed my brain. Yaacov had to leave town on a last minute business trip, so I had to organize two different babysitters for the monthly consulting meeting I go to. I prepared all yesterday so I would be on time and the kids would be adequately packed. So this morning I’m meandering out of the house when I remember to check which building my meeting is in. Turned out it was in a whole different city (and time zone), so I was terribly late. While sitting in the meeting I tried to speak and realized that the words I was trying to recall were lost. The concept is there, but I don’t have any idea how to label them. Then, at about 4pm Yaacov and I spoke on the phone and he reminded me that Abi had a t-ball game at 6:30. Failed again. At 8 pm it dawned on me that we missed it. So, instead of complaining about it I’m going to research specific brain-improving (see, this is a time I’m quite sure there’s a real term for what I mean) techniques, and I’m going to operationalize and track the improvement so I know what works best for me. If you have any theories, let me know and maybe I’ll include them. Stay tuned!

Genesis 28:15 “I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.”



We were supposed to get the pathology results from my biopsy on Wednesday or Thursday. I was unfazed that we still hadn’t heard by the weekend, but this morning was thrown for a loop. Dr. McAlpine left a voicemail first thing in the morning saying to call him. Then his nurse called my cell phone and hung up after one ring. I immediately called back and the receptionist said she couldn’t tell me the results. So I waited, anxiously, for a call back. Confidence dropped, the tears fell. I was sure it was bad news, my mind reeled and imagined how I would remember this day when my world changed for the worse. As the minutes ticked by I tried to pray and found no peace, so I just repeated, “I trust you. I trust you. This is part of your plan. I believe in your plan.” It was pretty hard to really believe during that time, though.

Finally, the phone rang. Lisa, Dr. McAlpine’s nurse and I exchanged the required pleasantries. Then she told me…”No cancer, the pathology was all clear.” Hooray!

God is awesome no matter what, but I sure appreciate getting good news like this. And as much as I hated the scary waiting, it made me even happier to hear that I am still cancer-free.

“But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it” 2 Timothy 3:14

I wish my faith was strong enough that I hadn’t gotten flustered by the ominous sounding message. That I hadn’t faltered when I thought the world was spinning out of control. Or that I hadn’t even noticed it start to spin backwards in the first place. But I’m a work in progress. I am being perfected to become more like Jesus and less like “me”. One day I’ll get there.

“Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” Philippians 1:6

Sadly, we are surrounded by people who are going through massive pain and sorrow. Some of them face more difficulties in a day than the rest of us ever deal with. Please join us in praying for a few of these people. Each of them was created by our God, for His glory. Each of them has the potential to be rescued in a miraculous way. Every one has been going through a fear-filled time like the one I described above, and could use a break. Let us support them in prayer, that no matter how closely they are walking with God, they will get closer, believe more, hope more, and expect more. This is the time to see God do amazing work, and I can’t wait to see how He turns it all around.

“If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and He will deliver us from your majesty’s hand…” Daniel 3:17

Cancer: One is a single mom diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer. Her daughter lives in an entirely different country, which makes it extremely difficult for both of them. We believe she has already been healed but needs wisdom about future treatments and scans, is getting some of the run around from doctors, etc. Jaime is a young girl who was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer two years ago. It has been spreading and she needs wisdom about doctors and treatments. Let’s just pray for total, miraculous healing and for confidence and faith in the meantime. Jessica is the one who had lung cancer with clear results last time. Today she had a routine scan, so pray that it is clear and that she will keep getting great news. Scarlett is a new breast cancer friend who has had many health problems in the past. She has a one-year-old daughter and is going through chemo right now. She is having a really hard time feeling God’s peace and joy so pray that He would fill her with those and confidence. Yaacov also has a friend whose father was just diagnosed with kidney cancer, and pain brought him to the doctor in the first place, which is never good. Pray for faith and peace, plus of course total healing. Finally, there is a family member with a mass that we are believing is benign. Pray for an easy and accurate surgical biopsy.

“Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. Make level paths for your feet so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.” Hebrews 12:12

Babies: Baby A is having an MRI in a few weeks because she has some symptoms of a disruption in her right hemisphere. Pray for the test to go smoothly, accurate results, and absolutely no problem in her brain. Just have the symptoms disappear! Also, someone we love is facing an unexpected pregnancy and we pray for God to guide her perfectly and to help the family dynamics and make all the correct, important decisions. Finally, a praise! I think I forgot to follow-up in the past–awhile back I blogged that our niece’s soft spot seemed to have closed up. The surgeon said it hadn’t and she is fine! I know that He just fixed that.