Regardless of my ideologies, lack of synagogue affiliation, or the fact that my (married) last name ends in a vowel and we have a Christmas tree in our house, it has become very clear to me that I'm such a Jew. Don't get me wrong, there is no shame in my game. I'm proud of my NY/NJ Jewish roots; after all I'm the offspring of two people who met through Larry David (true story: my parents met when Larry, my dad’s high school friend, hit on my mom) which I think is about as cool and Jewy as you can get.
This feeling of extreme Jewishness all started at my initial consultation with the genetic counselor. As I rattled off the extensive list of family members and their cancers, she wrote out my genogram. She then asked me if any of the family members I had just named were Ashkenazi Jews. When I answered, “yes, they all were,” like the Scarlet Letter, she marked a huge red ‘A’ right in the middle of her paper. I've decided the marking could also be an anarchy sign, making it the most punk rock genogram of all time. But yes, I'm so Jewish that I carry a Jewish gene mutation.
Also like any good Jew, I have been feeling extremely guilty lately. I feel guilty that since I’ve shared my story, people feel bad for me or have expressed sympathy toward me, when I don't even have cancer. I feel guilty that I'm choosing surgery when so many people don't even get a choice. I feel guilty that in my last blog post, instead of just celebrating the good news of a negative MRI, I made it a little too woe-is-me. I feel guilty that my diagnosis of a hereditary genetic mutation makes my family feel guilty. And I also feel guilty that there is a 50% chance that I've passed the gene to my two daughters.
But it’s all good. Because mixed in with all this guilt, is a fair share of pride. I'm proud that I come from a family of survivors. I'm proud that I come from a culture strong in intelligence, wit, and perseverance. And I'm proud that I can model for my daughters, that in the future, they too can make a pro-active decision regarding their health. And that, my friends, is something worth raising a glass of Manischewitz to.