The C word: Mutations galore

I have always imagined what it would be like to be a superhero. I have weighed and re-thought a number of super powers that I’d like to have. I’ve argued that maybe, just maybe there really are some mutants in our midst. And that maybe my mutations are simply showing a late growth spurt and one day would flourish. Yes, laugh all you will but it’s true, even today at the ripe old age of 28.

The thing is I was right! I do have a mutation after all. My mother (who laughed so much about by love for superpower-causing mutations. Ha!), one of my two sisters and I have a mutation – that of the gene MSH2.

It is one of the many mutations that cause…cancer. Oh no! Really. I mean, truly, really, seriously! It is a mutation that can cause HNPCC or Hereditary Non-Polyposis Colorectal Cancers. All my belief in mutations and mutants and I get gifted with a potential bomb in the poop-pipe? Blaaargh! What-an-anti-climax.

And it gets better. The name, which implicates my colon, is misleading. I mean, it stores crap, a shit-storm there would just be ironic. But no, in another woman’s words “my baby box set me up!”. Diagnosed with ovarian cancer last year, it has truly been a year of learning. (Much of it has to do with the absolute, eternal and unquestionable importance of eyebrows. But more on that later.)

ovarian

Coming back to serious issues, such as, you know, not dying. I have been part of a group on  Facebook of women suffering ovarian cancer. And the shocking fact is most were diagnosed late. Have been suffering for years.

 

There is a shocking lack of awareness about this insidious disease as compared to our other more ‘glamorous’ sister — breast cancer.

Figures available publicly with the American Cancer Society show that as of August 2015, 198 grants were made for research involving breast cancer, with total funded amount standing at over $110 million. The total grants for ovarian cancer, however, were at a relatively lower 46, with total funded amount standing at $26 million.

It is estimated that in the US more than 22,000 women will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2016, and over 14,000 will succumb to it in the year. That’s a strike rate of over 63 per cent.

On the other hand, over 246,000 breast cancer cases are likely to be diagnosed and more than 40,000 women may lose their lives to it. That’s about 16 per cent.

Now, I am not trying to minimise the suffering of any cancer patient. Just a few sentences earlier I called breast cancer our more “glamorous” sister, just for the high amount of coverage it gets, and justly so. The sheer numbers makes it more visible, more troublesome and as a result also gains more research interest.

But just going by numbers ovarian cancer is more deadly. Its fatality is linked to the fact that it is an unusually silent disease with symptoms as vague as ‘exhaustion’. So, ladies, be alert if you feel a loss of appetite, feeling bloated, are suffering abdominal pains that are masquerading as gastritis, and start needing to pee too often.

And, just in case anyone was wondering, I am waiting on my invisibility to kick in. A little bit of the ability to teleport too, you know. And a touch of telepathy wouldn’t hurt… just because.

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