BRCA-Neg – A Full Book Review

I came across The Bucket List at my local Dollarama for $3. It is a tragedy, in my opinion, that it sold for that little…but a miracle that I spotted it. 

I was drawn to the book because of the bright, colourful cover. When I turned to the back for the synopsis, at first it followed the rom-com trajectory I was expecting. Then, it mentioned the fact that the main character, Lacey, tests positive for the BRCA1 genetic mutation and into my shopping cart it went. 

Almost 30 years ago, my maternal grandmother died of breast and ovarian cancer. Several years ago, my mother decided to get genetic testing done and found that she was positive for the BRCA1 genetic mutation. She bravely chose to have both a prophylactic mastectomy and an oophorectomy. 

Because my mother carried the genetic mutation, I had a 50% chance of having it myself as well. After giving birth to my son, I decided in early 2020 to have myself tested. Knowledge, although terrifying at times, is power, after all. 

A few weeks later I received a call and was told that I was negative for the BRCA1 mutation. I have never felt luckier than I did that day, finding out that I would not need to have any more gruelling surgeries after the emergency C-section that brought me my son. 

I went into reading The Bucket List from the highly privileged position of being BRCA1 negative. But, I watched my mother go through every stage of the genetic testing, I nursed her through her 3 surgeries, and so anything BRCA1-related is extremely personal to me. If you don’t know anything about this genetic mutation or these surgeries, rather than writing a science report here, I urge you to do some research (Angelina Jolie tested positive a few years back, so information is easy to find). 

With all this in mind, I can confidently say that I thoroughly enjoyed The Bucket List. It was a witty, entertaining book, and while it was not solely about cancer and had a rich plot besides that, the genetic mutation was not gratuitously used as a mere plot device. The subject, to me, was handled with grace and delicacy, but in realistic and glaring terms. 

This book was messy. It was messy and it was human and it was real. Lacey is, as a heroine, very flawed, but that is what makes her so easy to like. She is immature and emotional and frustrating at times, but she is also a young woman dealing with a plate overly full, and her journey is a very interesting and heart-wrenching one. I found myself drawn to her imperfections and insecurities and, as I said, she is so real that it is hard not to root for her and rally behind her fledgling strength. 

This book was not at all what I expected, and I am so grateful for that. It was altogether more robust and compassionate and raw, and I think it was respectful to anyone who has dealt with a similar situation in real-life. I will be passing it along to my mother to read next, and I recommend it to any young women and men who are curious about this topic and about hereditary cancers in general. 

jng

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