There's a term called 'healthy fear.' We implemented it recently with swim lessons for my toddler. We worried she was too fearless and, with a pool outside our back door, we worried that would translate to her slipping past us and getting into the pool.
Six weeks later, she can save herself. She can jump in, be flipped around and now instinctively rolls on to her back so she can rest and breathe.
I'm not sure my fear of cancer is healthy, per say, but it's there. At 4 and 2, my girls don't necessarily have that fear yet. And I have another fear --- that if they don't remember the struggle I'm going to endure eventually and they don't see me go through chemo, lose my hair, suffer when they're old enough to remember, that they won't have a 'healthy fear' of this mutation.
I'm afraid they will live a life of comfort knowing I'm here and as healthy as I can be. They'll see me go to check-ups. I'm sure I'll have other hurdles in the future, but they'll be miniscule compared to what I've seen the women in my life endure. What if my own kids go the way of the anti-vaccine movement?
We basically eradicated life-threatening illnesses with vaccines, so few people alive today remember polio or those who lived paralyzed by that virus. Before recently, so few people knew how devastating measles could be to a small child. People found reasons to avoid the vaccines that saved us. They saw the small percentage of side effects and punctured our herd immunity. What if my girls only see my complications and issues and decide not to pursue testing or surgeries?
What if I have to see them diagnosed?
So many women in my support circles fear passing along the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genetic mutations to their children, daughters and sons. And, sure, I hope both my girls are negative. But moreso, I fear them turning their back on knowing one way or the other.
It's a very personal decision that each of us have to make for ourselves, but I can't promise I'll be able to stand back entirely. They will grow up knowing as much as I can explain as early as I can talk to them about it. When the time comes, I hope they don't resent me for it all. I just hope they know I did it because I love them, their father and my family. I hope they can see and understand the reality of it, even if I manage to outrun fate. I hope they know what's in our genes.