Today I had my genetic counseling appointment. It was so interesting! It was like a family tree only with black dots scribbled in the boxes for those that had cancer. So who was at the bottom of that tree? Muah AND my cousin. Shout out to two of Abuela’s favorite!! Whoop whoop! 😉
How Genetic Testing Made me Start Thinking About ADD
Anyhoo, this whole genetic testing thing got me thinking about my family, our genetics, our commonalities and our secrets. We all have them. I’m pretty much an open book so any issues that I have-my friends and/or family will know. Not many secrets here. Back to my thinking. As I look at my Mom’s side of the family-nothing really stands out as far as “things that run in the family”. Wait-curves. Those damn hips! But that’s easy to keep in check through healthy eating and exercise. Easy. Right.
On to the Quintana’s (my father’s side). This side is a little more complex. You see, I only want to put this out there because I think its important for us. Us meaning, all my cousin’s and especially OUR CHILDREN. There seems to be a few things that run in our family and you know what? It’s OK. OK, because we all go through it and we can only be a testament and inspiration for each other.
Let me start by telling you a story about myself. I mean if I’m gonna put it out there, I might as well start with ME. One story that will always stick out to me is when I was the last person in my 3rd grade class (maybe 2nd?) to memorize my times tables. Specifically the 2’s. My Mom had a conference with the teacher and was so upset that I still didn’t know them that we spent the entire day/night studying them until they were memorized. It took ALL evening. But that’s a story that me and my Mom will never forget. On to the next one.
I Finally Figured Out What Was Going on With Me!
Standardized test such as SATs were a F’in nightmare for me. In high school, I think I took my SATs 3 times. Not to mention I took the PSAT twice AND attended a summer school prep class that was suppose to increase my score. Wanna know what my score was??? I believe it was between 950-980. Now, what sense does that make coming from someone that graduated with above a 4.0 average!? I mean, after all the prepping I did, I should’ve scored in the 1200’s. Instead, I just made the absolute lowest score possible that would still qualify me for my Bright Future’s Scholarship. College was a bitch. Why? Because what would take someone 2-3 hrs of studying would take me 10. This was all I knew. I thought this was normal and that I just had to work harder than everyone else. Fast forward through Mommy hood and my career. A few months after a promotion at work, a thought crossed my mind that I NEVER had. I actually told myself that I don’t think I could handle a higher position because I just could not get it together and focus on completing certain tasks. Things just kept getting harder and harder and I was stressed out. I started getting severe migraines. I went to the doctor but he said it was anxiety and I walked out of there with a prescription to Xanax. Really? I never filled that Rx b/c I knew it was something more. A year later, I was seeing a counselor (remember I was stressed out!) and 4 months into our fabulous courtship she asked me if I had ever been tested for ADD when I was young. Pssshhhh….NO. Are you kidding? My parents would NEVER go for that excuse! It was just study more more more! or You’re not applying yourself! I loved that one! She gave me the test which divided up ADD in a few categories. One category was “inattentiveness”. I got the highest score you could get, which was not good in this test. She referred me to a psychiatrist for medication and I sat on her referral for 4 months before I did anything. Don’t know why-maybe it was the Quintana in me-I”M FINE! I finally caved and went to see the doctor she referred me to and I now take medication for ADD. I wish I did this a long ass time ago. During this time was when I found out that ADD is hereditary AND that it runs in my family (specifically the guys). What else runs in our family? Let me tell you. Substance abuse, mental illnesses, and maybe cancer-jury is still out on that one.
ADD/ADHD & Mental illnesses- Clinically, these are both psychiatric disorders. And you know what? There are genetic risks factors associated with 5 major psychiatric disorders: schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, autism, major depression and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Since my diagnosis, I now have a stash of anxiety meds to use as needed. Why? Because shit happens and life happens. Along with my diagnosis came small bouts of anxiety and sleepless nights. Maybe I was more prone to anxiety/depression because of my family history. Who knows. Regardless, this is one of many things that me and my Dad now share. Hahaha…..I feel a lecture coming on. I love you Dad!
Substance abuse-This includes all substances, including alcohol. As a child of a recovered alcoholic, I’m 4x times more likely to become an alcoholic. But I knew that one, because my parent’s drilled it in my head during my college years. Cheers to that Mom & Dad! I love you! But I know for shizzle that this isn’t a problem. Instead, I got cancer.
Cancer-jury is still out on this one. But there is cancer in my family. I’m one of 2 cousins that had a diagnosis in our early thirties. According to the genetic counselor that alone sends up some flags. The genetic testing I will be receiving will not only test me for the breast cancer gene but I will be tested for 5 other genes that are linked to other illnesses and cancer. Should I be positive for any of these tests, the next step would be for my Mom and Dad to get tested. From there, we will know which side of my family has the mutated gene. Again, this is only IF I test positive for any of the 6 genes. Wouldn’t you like to know if there was a proven gene in your family genetic make-up that could increase your chance of having a certain illness or cancer by up to 50%?These percentages depend on the gene and type of cancer.
The moral of this story is that knowing some of this information can help us make sense of things in an otherwise cloudy uncertain world. I hope I didn’t offend anyone, because surely that was not my intention. My intention is to be a testimony, peer, and to be as transparent as possible. I (we) need to know what we may be up against or what we need to look out for. If not for us, then for the next generation-our children!
With all this said, I am so grateful to have the love I do from my family. I thank you for all your calls, messages, cards and loving texts of encouragement. LOVE TO ALL!! My third chemo treatment is this Thursday-send me love and prayers!
Here are pics of the Saenz clan-the coolest hipsters around…..love u!! xoxoxo