Saturday, October 22

Quote of the Day:  “When one door closes, another opens.  But we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.”  Helen Keller

Sue O. and I headed up Millcreek Canyon Thursday morning @ 7:30 A.M.  We watched the car temperature go from 49 degrees at our houses to 29 degrees at the base of Big Water.  But mainly we couldn’t take our eyes off the colors of the foliage.  I have never seen it look more beautiful in Millcreek.  Colors have to be at their peak.  Reds, oranges, bright yellows- they are all there.  Don’t delay- you should drive up there this weekend!  There were only 2 other cars in the parking lot when we arrived and we never saw another soul on the trail.  We headed up one trail looking for a new trail that Kathy E. had told me about.  About 1/8 mile up the trail there was a new trail posting for the Old Red Pine Road Trail and so we took it.  It climbed a bit on the northside of the mountain and we just kept getting these views of yellow quakies as the sun was rising.  This trail connects to the Great Western Trail and so we took that trail coming back down.  We were so richly fed.  There is this portion of the trail that is covered with thick pine trees and quakies and all the aspen leaves have fallen on the pines and on the trail making this soft bed to walk on but more than that- it is magnificently beautiful and breathtaking!  We could hear a loud noise as we came off the trail into the clearing right before the parking lot, a helicopter lifted off literally right in front of us.  We were glad that is was not a rescue, just working on some equipment but it was cool to see it so close up.

So  Jami, my aunt (who is younger than me), wrote this comment in my blog regarding “nature” vs. “nurture” and I so agree with her, plus it made me feel better.  “I’m with you Joanie, when there have been extensive and exhaustive studies done to show that carrying this gene gives you an 87% chance of getting breast cancer and 40% chance of getting ovarian cancer, how can you argue with that? It is nature, and we are so lucky to live in a day and age where we can see the progress doctors and researchers are making. To see how far we have come gives me hope that someday there will be a cure!”

My sister, Shelly, told me that Christina Applegate (actress) also carries the BRCA 1 gene and I found this on the internet.   Aug. 20, 2008 — Actress Christina Applegate recently had both breasts removed in an effort to prevent her breast cancer from returning and said that she will get breast reconstruction.  Applegate, 36  …announced her breast cancer diagnosis earlier this month. Yesterday, she told ABC’s Good Morning America that she is now “absolutely, 100% clean and clear” of cancer.   Before getting her preventive (prophylactic) double mastectomy three and half weeks ago, Applegate had two lumpectomies — and only had cancer in one breast, according to Good Morning America — and took a gene test that showed that she had the BRCA1 gene mutation, which makes breast cancer and ovarian cancer more likely.   Applegate called her mastectomy decision “tough” but the “most logical” possibility for her. She said she based her choice on her family history — her mother has had breast cancer and cervical cancer — and her BRCA1 gene.

Is Applegate’s approach to breast cancer one that would work for other breast cancer patients? And what will the reconstruction process — for Applegate and for other women — be like?

WebMD talked with four doctors — and with a breast cancer survivor who made some of the same choices that Applegate did — about preventive mastectomy and breast reconstructive surgery. None of the doctors who talked to WebMD are treating Applegate.

Did Applegate make a good choice?

“I think she did the absolute right thing, and she did it the right way,” says Jay Brooks, MD, FACP, chief of hematology/oncology and chief of staff at the Ochsner Health System in Baton Rouge, La.

“She underwent lumpectomy and then, when she got the information back from the genetic testing, she was able to have a little time to discern what this all meant and then she went forward to have the prophylactic mastectomies, which are clearly the best treatment to reduce her risk of ever developing breast cancer [again] by at least 90%,” says Brooks.

“I think that’s a very reasonable approach,” says Brooks. “It may not be right for every patient, but I think especially if you have this genetic mutation — it’s such a highly active mutation in terms of increasing the risk of breast cancer — that it’s certainly something that I would recommend to one of my family members or to my patients, and I do,” says Brooks, noting that only about 5% to 7% of breast cancer patients have cases similar to Applegate’s.

“Because her risk of an additional breast cancer is extremely high, in the range of one in two, why take a chance?” asks Eli Avisar, MD, breast cancer surgeon at the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.

…Alvarez says Applegate’s decision was “brave” and “smart because life is too short. It’s not worth living your life worrying every six months when you have to go back for tests and more tests — and hoping that it’s not going to come back. With this way, you really increase your chances of not having to worry about it again and live your life.”

Jessica Queller is one of the few women with an idea of what actress Christina Applegate is going through.  Both women watched their mothers go through breast cancer. Like Applegate, Queller carries the BRCA-1 mutation, which increases a woman’s risk of breast cancer.  But Queller chose to have both breasts removed at 35, before she could be diagnosed with cancer. Her younger sister also had a double mastectomy after testing positive for the gene mutation.  Queller also plans to have her ovaries removed, because the mutation increases her risk of cancer there, as well.  She says she was motivated by the experience of her mother, who died of cancer.   “After seeing your mom suffer, it really scares you into facing your own mortality,” she says. “You are educated enough to know that if you can prevent it, you really want to prevent it.”  Queller, a writer for the TV show Gossip Girl, wrote a memoir about her experience, titled Pretty Is What Changes.“This whole book is about my mom,” Queller told USA TODAY when her book came out in March. “We feel like her life was sacrificed to save us.”

I thing I have really come to understand as with everything in life, unless you go through it yourself or watch a loved one suffer, you don’t really have a grasp of the impact of having such a dangerous gene mutation.  I was surprised that the numbers are so low meaning that only 5-7% of breast cancer cases are women who carry this gene.

Mary, Maggie, Alex and I hiking in Millcreek on Friday, Oct. 21


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One Response to Saturday, October 22

  1. laurie burt October 24, 2011 at 3:48 am #

    Oh, how I love to see those beautiful fall colors! And you look gorgeous, too! I don’t know if it’s just the pose, but I think Maggie looks just like her grandmama.
    Thanks for the much-appreciated quote from Helen Keller.

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