I guess I've known there was a chance that I would be a carrier for this mutation since I was a teenager. It was then that I grasped what it meant that my grandmother lost her battle to breast cancer when my dad was a teenager himself. It was then that I watched my aunt lose her battle to ovarian cancer.

And I was exposed to the idea that our ethnic background as a family descendent of Ashkenazi Jews could be linked to these diseases.

My aunt was diagnosed with ovarian cancer around the time that genetic testing was just becoming an option. But back then, a positive result meant your insurance company could drop you. I suppose your not yet present cancer was now a pre-existing condition?

My aunt asked after her diagnosis what the doctors would have done if they knew she was a carrier (we still don't know for sure). A full hysterectomy, they said.

It could have saved her.

Today, I have the chance to do what she was never given the opportunity to do.

But it's still tough to fathom.