Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Over the last few months I have been seeing Drs and having tests for a lump in my breast. When things looked not so good, I made a public statement. It took almost a month before I told my husband and made the first appointment. I grew up with a military dad who worked at the pentagon. If I was sick and he needed to be called away from national security, it had better be serious. So I kept checking every few days, sadly comforted that it was "still there". It wasn't in my head, I was not over reacting.

When I went in for the 1st mammogram the tech was really shocked when I said "Yes" to being of askenazi descent. She had never had anyone say yes before!
The diagnostic mammogram tech said she sees 100 people a day and in a year gets 4-6 people who circle "ashkenazi" on their paper work.

Now I no longer live in Miami, Baltimore, D.C. or Denver, but there are thousands of jewsish women in our community!

So these are the questions.
1-Are we so scarred by the genetics and racial profiling of the holocaust that we refuse to circle "ashkenazi on our cancer screenings? Are we afraid to admit we are jewish in our DNA?

2-Are Jews in America so assimilated that they no longer have any idea if they even are ashkenazi? or sephardi? or mizrahi? Do we no longer know "who" we are?

3-Are Jewish women just not getting screened at all even with a HIGHER breast and ovarian cancer rating?

Why? I think the answers to all 3 are rooted in fear. Fear of the known, the unknown, the past and even fear of the future. Superstitions and spooky antisemetic  "ghost stories" of the ways jewishness was used against a people have hung on for centuries.
This needs to change! There are lives at stake. If detected early, and treated, cancer doesn't have to be a killer. Many can be SURVIVORS. Our history is steeped in survival. The joke has been "Some one tried to kill us, we won, let's eat!"
Fight breast cancer! Encourage your sisterhood to get checked. Do not let fear keep you from circling a genetics question.  Do not let the fear keep your sister, your mother or your daughter from being checked.

I am Ashkenazi.
I get checked.

"One in 40 Ashkenazi (Eastern European) Jews carries a BRCA gene mutation, nearly 10 times the rate of the general population, making Jewish families significantly more susceptible to hereditary breast cancer and ovarian cancer.  If you have a strong family history of cancer, have considered genetic counseling, or have opted for genetic testing, we can help. "  -http://sharsheret.org

Among individuals of Ashkenazi Jewish descent, researchers have found that approximately 1 in 40 carry an altered BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene, compared to 1 in 345 in the general population. Among people with alterations in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes, three particular alterations have been found to be most common in the Ashkenazi Jewish population—two in the BRCA1 gene and one in the BRCA2 gene. -chabad.org

Fewer than 30% of at risk Jewish women get screened. - Haaretz

Your lifetime risk of getting breast cancer if you carry a BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene fault could be as much as 90%. That means as many as 90 out of every 100 women with one of these faults will get breast cancer at some point in their lives. As with breast cancer risk generally, the risk increases with age. Half of all women who carry a faulty breast cancer gene will have developed breast cancer by the time they are 50 years old. -cancerresearchuk.org

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