Deleterious. That's the first word I noticed. It seemed to jump from the paper more so than the word "positive".

Deleterious means:

1. injurious to health: deleterious gases.

2. harmful; injurious: deleterious influences.

To me, in that moment, it meant something is wrong with me. It means I am, in a sense, a time bomb. That my body, which has done so many amazing things, including give me two beautiful daughters, would undoubtedly turn against me.

Having a deleterious gene, the BRCA1 mutation, means that I have an 87% chance of getting breast cancer. In my lifetime. They keep emphasizing that. I get it. I could be 70 by the time it happens. But 87% is awfully close to 100%, isn't it?

And my grandmother didn't make it anywhere near 70. Or my aunt. So while my chances right.this.second are not 87%, they are probably well above the average woman's 12%.

It took a lot for me not to bawl.

Was this a surprise? The genetic counselor asked.

No, it wasn't. But it doesn't mean you don't hope.

But it also means we have a plan.