Developing Breast Cancer: BRCA, Genetics & Choices

by Nykole Sargent, BUS Cellular and Molecular Biology, Utah, USA

I have spent the last 8 years studying health sciences, biotechnology, genetics, and molecular biology, and the last 5 years studying esoteric medicine. BRCA1 mutations have been gaining momentum in the press, and I feel to write about it from a scientific / medical perspective, as well as a personal / esoteric healing perspective.

THE CONNECTION BETWEEN BREAST CANCER, BRCA1 AND GENE MUTATIONS

BRCA1 (1) is the name for a gene (a segment of DNA) that has been associated with the development of cancer in breast tissue; BRCA stands for BReast CAncer. It is estimated that 1 in 5,000 women carry a mutation in BRCA1 – this translates to 5-10% of breast cancer cases having a mutation. According to research, 50-80% of women with varying mutations in BRCA1 AND who have a family history (other women to whom they are related having breast cancer) will get cancer during their lifetime. The risk calculation depends on the location of the mutation in the gene, and the extent of family history the person is presenting with, hence the wide range. This means that 20-50% of the women who have the same BRCA1 mutations AND a family history will not get cancer during their lifetime. Women who have BRCA1 mutations but no family history and vice versa are at a lesser risk, determined by a genetic counsellor. However, many women who have breast cancer do not have BRCA1 mutations (90-95%). It is thought that there are other genes causing the disease that we have not discovered yet.

Science in general believes that by continually scanning the human genome they will find a genetic cause to every disease case. But I can say, as having worked on such projects, that this simply isn’t true. The cancer research community is spending billions every year scouring the genome of cancer patients with hope of such a discovery, but few have been made. This is not to say that research isn’t worthwhile – I think it means that the background causes are perhaps more complex than we like to admit and perhaps different in nearly every case. For example, the colon cancer experts I work with published a paper in 2010 with the first two sentences saying:

“Fewer than 5% of colon cancers arise in the presence of a clear hereditary cancer condition; however, current estimates suggest that an additional 15-25% of colorectal cancers arise on the basis of unknown inherited factors. The aim of this study is to identify additional genetic factors responsible for colon cancer.” (2)

The results of this study and subsequent research, which I have been involved with, still have not yielded any additional genes that are responsible for colon cancer. The conclusion of such endeavours is that the answer is missing or is bigger than our current technology can handle. Interestingly, some of our most prestigious genetic scientists wrote a paper titled “Finding the Missing Heritability of Complex Diseases” (3). Meaning they aren’t finding the answers where they think they ought to be. We have yet to consider that we might be looking in the wrong place, or with too narrow a scope.

BREAST SCREENING AND PREVENTING DISEASE

At the same time, medicine is putting effort into preventing diseases instead of retrospectively trying to cure them, which is a step in the right direction: albeit they are relying on genetics to determine who will get diseases and who won’t as part of a push for “personalized medicine”. For this reason women are screened for breast cancer by the age of 50. Women who have relatives that have had breast or ovarian cancer at around age 50 are encouraged to begin this process earlier, around the age of 40. Part of this screening includes a family history evaluation, and breast examinations. Women who have multiple relatives with breast or ovarian cancer are encouraged to undergo genetic testing for BRCA1/2 – if they can afford it. A negative result means that the woman has a “lesser risk” (20-30% chance) of developing breast/ovarian cancer. A positive result means that the woman is at “high risk” (60-70%) of developing breast cancer in her lifetime. This is great because many of the individuals who carry disease-causing gene mutations definitely do need greater attention when it comes to their health-care, and genetics can help guide these decisions.

When a test comes back positive the woman is informed about her health-care choices. One option is to have her breast tissue removed and thus prevent cancer from ever developing. Alternatively, she can enrol in an intense surveillance program in an effort to detect any cancers early. Or she can do nothing, which is not recommended. Most women opt for the first or second choice, which will significantly reduce their risk of developing breast cancer. But what does this choice mean in terms of healing?

USING ESOTERIC MEDICINE TO SUPPORT CONVENTIONAL MEDICINE

The philosophy of Esoteric Medicine states that the truest form of medicine, that is, the primary and foremost form of medicine, is in the way that we live on a daily basis. It is here we find the fundamental answer that science is desperately searching for – there is something missing in the way we are living.

I feel that having a double mastectomy only takes away the chance for the body to develop cancer in the breast tissue this lifetime. It alone does not address the momentum of choices that allowed the possibility of breast cancer in, that can still be lived out. This is a possible shortfall of conventional medicine – when cancer is seen to be caused by a gene and therefore can be prevented by cutting off that part of the body. From an esoteric understanding, disease is caused by an energy that is carried in the body and reinforced in every choice; removing body parts doesn’t necessarily change the energy that is there. The blog Western Medicine & Esoteric Medicine – One Surgeon’s perspective is great at explaining this. Yes, disease absolutely requires medical support to heal physically, but it is worth considering that the woman may require additional support if further healing is needed. This is where I have found the Esoteric Healing Modalities are extremely beneficial because they ask questions of us that we might otherwise never stop to consider on our own. I know that self-love was foreign to me before I began participating in Esoteric Healing courses.

I am all for treating and preventing cancers with modern medical techniques, without these we would be lost! I am here simply suggesting my own feeling that there is more to the disease to be looked at and healed along with medical intervention. A beautiful first-hand example is provided here: Breast Cancer: Knowing what I know now, I would definitely do things differently. The many facets of healing disease need discussion as it was, to my knowledge, never mentioned in the recent media coverage on this topic.

BREAST CANCER, OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH OURSELVES AS WOMEN, AND THE IMPORTANCE OF DEVELOPING SELF-CARE

I’m only 26 and have not had breast cancer. But I do know that developing and healing breast cancer is a very personal process. Women who have or are at risk of breast cancer are faced with a great deal of confronting choices, and I would say support in re-connecting to our body and learning self-care is an important part of this process. Therefore the case of Angelina Jolie is not one to be judged and condemned, nor idealised and championed. Instead, I see it as an opportunity to ask myself where I am in dealing with my own relationship with the possibility of breast cancer based on how I feel within myself. By living a truly self-nurturing life on a daily basis, honouring myself as a woman, connecting to my body and its needs, being aware of my choices and addressing any underlying hurts, I feel I am learning how to take responsibility for my part in health-care.

The medical information provided in this article was retrieved by personal communication with professional genetic counsellors and oncology doctors. It is highly recommended that any personal health concerns be addressed by your own trusted health professionals, and questions about personal genetics should be discussed with a genetic counsellor.

Inspired by the work of Universal Medicine and Serge Benhayon

References (National Centre for Biotechnology Information):
1. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/gene/672
2. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20522424
3. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2831613/

188 thoughts on “Developing Breast Cancer: BRCA, Genetics & Choices

  1. It is interesting how our first reaction seems to be to point the finger and blame genes, rather than stopping to feel how our lifestyle and way of living and QUALITY of living may have impacted on the development of a condition or disease. When I say QUALITY, I don’t mean that we purchase the top of the line sausages from the most expensive butcher in town, I am talking about the quality and the way in which we relate to the people around us, how we actually treat them, how we relate to ourselves and how we actually treat ourselves, what is the Quality in our relationships with self and others? These things play an enormous role in our general wellbeing, and so it is for us to choose if we empower ourselves by working on these things or not. Thank you Nykole for opening up this much needed conversation!

  2. Nykole, this is a super powerful statement as it brings back choice for women and allows us to see that things can certainly be addressed on the long term and not just on a short term (one life) approach:
    “I feel that having a double mastectomy only takes away the chance for the body to develop cancer in the breast tissue this lifetime. It alone does not address the momentum of choices that allowed the possibility of breast cancer in, that can still be lived out. “

  3. I agree Nykole, it is a very crude approach to assume that cancer is caused by a gene and therefore can be prevented by cutting off that part of the body. We know there is so much more to us as women and our bodies than this! And even science knows that there is so much more involved. The question is why do we allow science and medicine to reduce us to this extend?

  4. A wonderful example where esoteric healing complements conventional medicine. We can spend millions/billions to try and find a cure but if we deny that all illness and disease is caused by our ill choices then we will be forever searching. Taking responsibility for how we are with ourselves and the life we choose to live are key.

  5. Great to bring this to attention and address many of the myths and media attention being placed on this subject, especially since Angelina Jolie made it so public with her personal choices around having her breasts removed. This was broadcast all over the media, and for all the wrong reasons, in my opinion, it wasn’t presenting the underlying issues around how women are living, but making it about a gene, nothing about ‘how’ women are living, how they are nurturing and self caring. So we need more articles like this to debunk what is spreading in the media, bringing a truth to what is there and can be the cause of such cancers.

  6. ‘Science in general believes that by continually scanning the human genome they will find a genetic cause to every disease case.’ I find most people believe that too – or want to. Blaming genetics means we can avoid taking responsibility for our part in creating the very conditions that result in illnesses we manifest. We can continue to see disease as something that ‘just happens’ to us or as the end result of the choices we have made. And yes, sometimes these are choices we have repeated for lifetimes, carrying them forward in our cells as genetic imprints – but no less a situation we have created.

  7. Science may one day prove that each illness have a genetic component to it. However, we have the choice to believe that this is it, or that gene disorder is part of a bigger process that may help to explain this phenomenon. Science can spend years and decades and mapping every gene and establishing many connections with conditions. Yet, at some point the question will arise, what if epigenetics is right afterall?

  8. This is so much needed, people in the medical and science sphere broadening the scope of research and looking at the energetic reasons of illness and disease

  9. A very thoughtful and balanced contribution on breast cancer from someone who works on the coalface of medical research; thank you for the clarity of your article. It makes the question – Is it possible that we are barking up the wrong tree when we exclusively focus on the genome and blame genetics – more pertinent than ever.

  10. Perhaps self-care will naturally become a greater focus as we become more open to considering self-responsibility as part of our health and wellbeing.

  11. Through self care we take a responsible body to the doctors, one that is actively engaged in our own healthcare. Through changing the way I live, my health and my relationship with my doctors has changed beyond measure, for the better. I feel I do not add to their load and therefore I am taking more responsibility in working with the doctors, not dumping my irresponsibility on them and asking them to fix me.

  12. If only scientists would spend the same amount of time, energy and effort on connecting to their limitless inner wisdom when seeking answers instead of relentlessly pursuing ways and means to find answers exclusively in the world of science which has proven time and time again to be extraordinary and amazing but not without its limitations – they quite often are still searching for the last, albeit crucial, piece of the puzzle.

  13. The prevention of Breast Cancer is clearly much needed, but to date we have nothing in medicine that supports that. There is much early detection, but nothing regarding prevention.

  14. Knowing that the genetics only provide a small part of the answer towards for instance breast cancer does show how it is not just about genetics in this disease but about something else. So it is really important to not get blinded and think it is all genetics, and see what else might be causing an illness such as breast cancer. How do we live each day as woman? and is this truly honouring our body?

  15. The reasoning that illness and disease is something to do with the way we are living, makes sense to me, We seem far more stressed and I also wonder if one of the ways humans cope with stress is to eat plenty of food? I was shopping at my local super market just before Christmas and chatting to the check -out lady she said that a single person had spent nearly a 1,000.00 GBP on groceries and that in the week that lead up to Christmas, the store was going to far exceed the amount of money ever taken. And this got us wondering about the amount of food we all eat and is it really necessary? And do we eat food to numb ourselves from actually feeling what is going on in our lives. So I wonder if research is needed into how we live our lives rather than trying to find an answer in genetics. Supposing it was something far more simple such as the way we live?

  16. I love that in the combination of scientific and esoteric wisdom the removal of a risky organ or body part is exposed for not addressing the momentum of the choices that contribute to the development of the disease… it is not true healing until responsibility it taken for the disharmony caused from one’s choices… The way we live on a daily basis is indeed a fundamental component that cannot be ignored when it comes to true and holistic medicine.

  17. My life is much simpler because I take responsibility for what my health issues are and if genetics play a part then that is my karma and I needed that lesson so the I could look at the root cause.

  18. Sometimes we are stunned by one choice that we make, that out of the blue seems to change our day, but the reality is our whole existence is a continual chain of choices. So for every ‘normal’ thing we do, that we take foregranted what if there is another way like the one that you chose Eva, that promotes nurturing, tenderness and space? And what would our life be like if we just chose this more often? I am inspired to find out and give my ‘normal’ a miss.

  19. We have many advances and dedicate much time to research too, but what your words here Nykole make clear is that we focus so much on avoiding a certain scenarios, on eliminating symptoms and on literally cutting parts out. The greater illness we suffer from is focusing on this part instead of the Love we can make, the connection we can enjoy, the absolute tenderness we can employ. For too long this darker picture of ourselves and the world has been used to distract from the Love that is possible for us all.

  20. Thanks for sharing Nicole, it’s really interesting to look at the contributing factors to breast cancer on a big picture scale like this, rather than focussing and isolating just one thing e.g. BRCA mutations which can then influence us to address one aspect of the disease rather than the WHOLE picture… If we spend billions of pounds of research on investigating genomes, but forget that every case represents a person, their unique experience and lifestyle too, then we can overlook what’s really going on.

  21. We know that ‘lifestyle factors’ play a huge part in the development of cancer – but often we reduce these to the obvious things like smoking, drinking and lack of exercise. We haven’t really considered the effects of our thought patterns and our emotions on the body – yet these also have an enormous effect on how harmonious and vital the body feels on a day to day basis.

  22. A very informative blog Nykole and I thank you for your sharing this with us. We all need to take responsibility for our way of living and learn to self nurture also. I feel everyone needs to look at their individual situation and not be swayed by what another may be doing. Listening to our Doctors and healing Practitioners is very important also, this gives us the wider view we need to make decisions for ourselves.

  23. This thought provoking view of science, research, cancer and energy opens the door to looking at how we approach an illness as widespread as cancer, and as you say Nykole, perhaps asking scientists to look in a different place.

  24. ‘From an esoteric understanding, disease is caused by an energy that is carried in the body and reinforced in every choice; removing body parts doesn’t necessarily change the energy that is there.’ This is huge and something I know in every cell is true.

  25. Thank you for sharing this – from what I can read – there is so much importance on self care and developing a deeply personal relationship with our bodies. I wouldn’t know what to do if I were to get breast cancer, but I do know that how I am living will have a big part to play.

  26. Thank you Nykole, from speaking from your experience and the information you got. I found this part of your blog very interesting and healing and I do feel the same from my experience in my work and personal development:
    ‘I feel that having a double mastectomy only takes away the chance for the body to develop cancer in the breast tissue this lifetime. It alone does not address the momentum of choices that allowed the possibility of breast cancer in, that can still be lived out. This is a possible shortfall of conventional medicine – when cancer is seen to be caused by a gene and therefore can be prevented by cutting off that part of the body.’

  27. Healing offers an opportunity to review how we have been living in full, if we choose to take that opportunity.

  28. The relationship we have we are own bodies and the illness and disease that we manifest is indeed a very personal and at times shocking experience. Each of us have the opportunity to engage in our own healing and seek medical and other support in our own way. The more I listen to my body and seek to understand what it is communicating about the quality that i live daily the more I experience the possibility of true healing.

  29. It really is amazing how much we as a human race simply do not want to look at and at least be open to the fact that we don’t get illness and disease from our genes. There has been as you say, billions and billions of dollars spend every year on research, with very little return. If they were an organisation (these research companies) they would have had to close their doors, from lack of delivering on their goals. But they don’t they just keep fund raising over and over again and we as a humanity keep giving and giving without questioning, is this really working?! No it is not, so perhaps we should be asking a different question.

  30. Nykole, this is key what you have shared: “By living a truly self-nurturing life on a daily basis, honouring myself as a woman, connecting to my body and its needs, being aware of my choices and addressing any underlying hurts, I feel I am learning how to take responsibility for my part in health-care.” – this is how each and every one of us as women can be there to support and break this ill health cycle we are all perpetuating. No amount of pink ribbon activities such as a 10 km fun run or climbing up a mountain will stop cancer – it may raise funds for more research which could be useful in some way, but a way that each and every one of us as women can contribute to well being and womens health around the planet begins with how we treat ourselves and how much self care and self nurturing we can give ourselves. This puts the ball in our court – so the question becomes – how much will you be a part of supporting womens health and healing?

  31. Your voice and experience is clearly very powerful in this arena Nykole, thank-you. And you make absolute sense here, in drawing attention if not personal responsibility to the fact that we ourselves can be active in terms of the way we live and our relationship with our own bodies as women.
    The prospect of cancer – any form of it – is scary to most of us, and with this, in these recent years we see much fear being fuelled in our media and elsewhere and indeed what seem to be dramatic preventative surgeries and the like occurring… Yet this alone cannot constitute the answer, especially when you plainly highlight that “many women who have breast cancer do not have BRCA1 mutations (90-95%).”
    We do need to go broader picture here, and I agree, the perspective and lived way of Esoteric Medicine offers us the fundamental key we have been missing – or perhaps wilfully negating societally, in recognising that there is so much more to any illness or disease than it being seen as something that simply ‘befalls us’.
    I very much look forward to reading and hearing more of your work in this area of great concern for both women and men in our times Nykole, thank-you.

  32. Potentially one of the reasons that science is unable to get to the root cause of some medical conditions is because as a whole, we are not yet wanting to see the full impact of our choices in the way we live, and therefore the responsibility we hold in our health.

  33. Amazing blog Nykole, thank you for the insight! We seem to have denied the fact that our cells don’t just ‘do their own thing’, but actually respond to how WE live, and as you’ve shared true medicine is living in a way where to the tiniest detail our body works harmoniously, with our choices supporting the nanoscopic chemical reactions happening all the time and vice versa.

  34. Our health care system would change if more people embraced the following way of living– ” By living a truly self-nurturing life on a daily basis, honouring myself as a woman, connecting to my body and its needs, being aware of my choices and addressing any underlying hurts, I feel I am learning how to take responsibility for my part in health-care.”

  35. More and more it is recognised that our lifestyles are a great if not the greatest contributor to developing cancer in the body. Yet very little is understood yet about what lifestyle actually entails. We are told to eat healthier, drink less and do sport which may already be better then what is chosen before that advice but true lifestyle changes entail connection to the body, relationship with self and the world around us and quality of movement in the body. If this is taught, as it is by Universal Medicine, then we will see great changes in health as is already visible amongst the Esoteric Student Body.

  36. I find it interesting to consider as a woman that my breast health in the past been poor and I did not think I was ill or unhealthy….cancer does not arrive in one day, the cells mutant over time, there are triggers in or bodies that spur this on…this is what I consider now, looking at how I can support my body in all areas and for the longer term, life it’s not so much about just what I can do or get today with no consequence on the health of my breasts or any other part of my body.

  37. Thank you Nicole, it’s amazing to have someone who can bring western and complementary medicine into embrace.

  38. This blog raises the questions for us to contemplate what is it about our relatives and family that is passed on from generation to generation. Ii it more than just biology that is passed on? Why is it that intergenerational trauma is now such a key feature for so many different groups of people and what are we ignoring and missing?

  39. “The philosophy of Esoteric Medicine states that the truest form of medicine, that is, the primary and foremost form of medicine, is in the way that we live on a daily basis. It is here we find the fundamental answer that science is desperately searching for – there is something missing in the way we are living.” So very true Nykole – and such an important sharing. Thankyou. We have more medics, more research, more big pharma etc than ever before – yet cancer rates continue to increase. Something isn’t working. Could it possibly be due to our life-style choices?

  40. It is well worth exploring the depths of our illness and disease, our every choice, movement, behaviour and life as a totality in order to bring understanding as to the basis of our illness and to truly heal the energetic root cause as well as committing in full to the medical treatment that is needed.

  41. Maybe we need to change how we approach illness and disease, something clearly isn’t working with the ever increasing rates of cancer and other illnesses, great that you have presented another element here to consider Nykole, and yes I agree, our lifestyle, way of living and quality of living may have a huge impact on the development of a condition or disease.

  42. Are we ready to see, or even bring responsibility to how we live, the choices we make, knowing that that has a huge impact on our health? ‘By living a truly self-nurturing life on a daily basis, honouring myself as a woman, connecting to my body and its needs, being aware of my choices and addressing any underlying hurts, I feel I am learning how to take responsibility for my part in health-care.’

  43. Nykole, thank you for sharing this information about breast cancer, self care and nurturing seem like such a simple and effective way for us to support ourselves as a preventative for illnesses such as breast cancer or as a way to support us if we do have breast cancer and yet this very simple way of caring for and supporting ourselves does not seem to be mentioned or encouraged with women, surely this is huge missing piece of the jigsaw and one that can be profoundly healing and empowering for women.

  44. It is super important to be on top of medical check ups and treating what comes up, but this notion that we as women need to remove breasts just because of a gene, just shows how far away we have traveled from who we truly are.

  45. By living a truly self-nurturing life on a daily basis, honouring myself as a woman, connecting to my body and its needs, being aware of my choices and addressing any underlying hurts, I feel I am learning how to take responsibility for my part in health-care.” This feels like it ought to be written on a doctor’s script as it is true medicine.

  46. Great piece of writing and it shows me what I have suspect for a long time that Scientists have reduced their field to what they want to find. Let me explain when I was at school our science teacher taught the class to have a wonder for science how does something work and to be open to everything we were studying. And if we didn’t understand something did it matter? Just be in the wonder of the works of God. For many years now I have felt that scientist feel they have the answer and work backwards to prove their answer? They seem to think they are the masters of Mother Nature and have become very arrogant, irresponsible and self important. One day they will come to understand that Mother Nature cannot be ‘tamed’ and that they will have to take responsibility for the damage they are willfully contributing towards. The scientists are playing at being God without being in the energy of God, for if they were in the energy of God they would not be corrupting science, but be in the awe of it.

  47. Thank you Nykole its so wonderfull to read this and get an uninfluenced understanding of how the medical world wants to blame the body for having an illness in this case breast cancer . It would be interesting to do
    an investigation history into the living life style of women and men who have got breast cancer , one would expect it would be clearly show breast cancer is not about the genes of a woman .

  48. Given the huge impact breast cancer has on relationships and workplaces everywhere, it is very worthwhile considering all possible lifestyle factors at play…for it is our well being at stake.

  49. Very amazing to consider there is so much more behind our physical illnesses and diseases, and blogs like yours are helping to put the puzzle together for people who are struggling to understand the root causes of their illness, which must be a great frustration or stress on its own.

  50. Esoteric medicine is the perfect accompaniment to traditional medicine. It takes us back to nurturing the body which is the step that we have missed out to start with.

  51. Thank you for giving us a clear and concise look at our options where breast cancer is concerned. There is much here for us as women to consider, especially where esoteric medicine is concerned also.

  52. Nykole a very interesting blog, covering both science and the esoteric, we have to consider our own part in any disease, a really thought provoking blog that needs to be read more than once, thank you.

  53. Medical science is great, practical and needed but it seems to be moving in a direction that allows less and less freedom and space for doctors to connect with patients and tailor treatments to their specific requirements and needs.

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