David’s Story, 2021
I am 49 years old and was diagnosed as a positive BRCA mutation carrier in July 2021. This was following a consultation with my family doctor, at which I asked if I should be genetically screened.
She agreed I should be tested because of my family history and European Jewish heritage and made the referral to the local Health Sciences Centre.
She asked me to tell her where my family came from and what I knew about their medical history, including any cancer diagnoses and this is what I shared with her.
My Dad’s grandparents came from Russia and Romania and immigrated to Canada in the early 1903.
I knew both my Bobba and Zaide very well. Bobba suffered from Angina. My Zaide had excellent health until age 83 when he experienced back pain and went to the doctor. They discovered he had liver cancer, presumed it was secondary to prostate cancer and he passed away 3 weeks after the initial diagnosis.
My Mum’s grand parents, were both born in Russia and immigrated to St. Paul Minnesota in the early 1900’s. My grandfather enrolled in the US army and had heart problems. He died following a second heart attack at age 49. My grandmother, however, lived to the ripe old age of 93 and passed away in 2012 from natural causes.
My Dad is now 78 and in good health. My mother, however, died at age 58. She was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 35, was given a total mastectomy and was in remission for 20 years. However, in 2002 she experienced bad back pain and was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and, sadly, died 18 months later. Her sister, my Aunt, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2016 and is now following treatment to ensure it does not return. One of her daughters, my cousin, died of lung cancer in 2014 and since then the rest of the family has all been screened for the BRCA genetic mutations. Both my girl cousins have tested positive, as did one of their daughters.
This was the reason I decided I would like to be screened. It was also the reason that I did not need or request genetic counseling prior to testing. I also did not want or need counseling following the positive result.
However, I did go back to my family doctor, to discuss the finding. She has been amazing and is very knowledgeable about the BRCA genes and the related cancer risks. She did a and prostate examination which was normal and PSA screening which also came back normal and she told me I did not need to be referred to an oncologist at this time. She would be responsible for my on-going care, ensuring I have regular screening for potential prostate problems and told me how to do regular breast screening on myself at home.
I cannot fault the doctors who I have consulted with. They are thorough and have given me amazing support.
-David Salita, 49, BRCA2 positive