It's not in the genes, thank goodness

Staff writer

Peggy Blackman couldn’t be more relieved after getting results from a recent blood test.

Test results show she’s not a genetic carrier for the ovarian cancer physicians diagnosed in 1986. With a daughter, four granddaughters, and seven great-granddaughters with another expected next month, Blackman said it was a great weight off her shoulders to find out her descendants weren’t born predisposed to the same cancer.

“I’ve been living under this cloud for over 30 years,”
Blackman said.

Symptoms of ovarian cancer are so enigmatic, it often gets more than just a toehold before it’s diagnosed. In Blackman’s case, the cancer had already metastasized by the time it was discovered.

“The warning was so subtle. I’d put on a little weight, my waist was getting a little big. Vanity is what made me go to the doctor,” Blackman said. “It was spread throughout my abdomen.”

Her treatment took a year, and included four surgeries and chemotherapy. Though winning the cancer war made her happy, she’s wondered since if the same thing could happen to her daughter or granddaughters.

At the suggestion of a granddaughter, Blackman decided in December to get a DNA test to answer the nagging question of whether her cancer will “run in the family.”

Called a BRAC analysis, the test examines gene sequences to search for mutations responsible for most genetic breast and ovary cancers.

“I had genetic testing done the latter part of February,” Blackman said.

After a lot of research on the part of Blackman’s medical provider and the St. Luke Hospital laboratory, lab technicians drew four vials of blood in February and sent them to a DNA testing facility in another state.

“It took about three weeks to get the results back,” Blackman said. “Now that I have heard the answer, I praise God every day that my daughters don’t have to go through the stigma or the disease themselves.”

Brenda Rhodes, lab manager at St. Luke, said a BRAC analysis requires preauthorization to avoid paying its expensive price out of pocket.

“It’s a very expensive test,” Rhodes said.

The laboratory will help with the preauthorization process.

In Blackman’s case, her insurance will assist with the cost of the test.

“I don’t know how much of it they will take care of, but any portion will be appreciated,” Blackman said.

Last modified March 16, 2017

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