All I Could Do Was to Sit, Sit, Sit, Sit

When I received the results it was just a few weeks before I discovered I was pregnant with my third child, Grace. The genetic tests showed I had a mutation now known as Lynch Syndrome (or hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer (HNPCC)). As my OB outlined the risks for me developing ovarian, uterine, colon, bladder, and several other cancers, I mentally weighed the statistics. For women with the MSH6 mutation, nearly 30+% chance of developing colorectal cancer before age 70? That’s not so bad. Right? And 61% chance of uterine cancer by age 70+? I’ll just have a hysterectomy.

The solutions seemed so simple: Prevention — regular check-ups, tests, and surgery.

Then, a year and a half later, my sister was diagnosed with colon cancer. She was 39. Not even two years older than me. And she had the same mutation as well. But the ground hadn’t even begun to fall out from under us.

After speaking with one of our paternal aunts, my sister learned that some of our grandmother’s sisters and brothers (the few who were still alive), as well as their children (and grandchildren) had tested positive for Lynch Syndrome. More and more incidents of cancer were popping up — even for the relatives who tested negative for Lynch! And my sister and I hadn’t a clue. No one had ever mentioned it, not even about the genetic mutation being passed down generation after generation.

It was as if my entire extended family had put their collective head in the sand, like ostriches. You can’t worry about or fear something if you don’t acknowledge it. It isn’t real if you don’t see it. See no evil. Hear no evil. Speak no evil.


The sun did not shine.

It was too wet to play.

So we sat in the house

All that cold, cold, wet day.

                                    -Dr. Seuss, The Cat in the Hat, 1967


It isn’t like I am in the passenger seat. I’m not even in the car that I should be driving. I’ve become a bystander watching from the side of the road. I am witness to a life I’d rather not live.

[My psychologist, Dr. Jasmine, says that is my depressed brain speaking. I wish I could believe that. I want to.]



Autorun!, “Rainy Days”, 2009, Flickr,


Now there are regular colonoscopies, EGDs, skin tests, blood tests, bladder check-ups, pelvic inspections (my uterus and ovaries were removed a little over a year ago). Unfortunately, there really is no reliable prevention for pancreatic and brain cancer — some of the other cancers associated with Lynch. Both of my grandparents died from pancreatic cancer.

And then 3 months ago, at nearly the age of 39, I had my first polyp removed from the right portion of my colon, where most colon cancer grows with my particular genetic mutation. With Lynch, any polyp that develops is going to become cancerous. Usually within 3 years once it gets going.

It — and by “it” I mean cancer — isn’t a matter of if for me. Cancer is a matter of when.

And it is more than I can bear. At least right now.


So we sat in the house.

We did nothing at all.

So all we could do was to





And we did not like it.

Not one little bit.

                                               -Dr. Seuss, The Cat in the Hat, 1967

via Daily Prompt: Witness


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