Finding Joy After Loss
- Actor Pierce Brosnan, 69, just welcomed his fourth grandchild. A cause for celebration after the tragic loss of his first wife and daughter who both passed away from ovarian cancer.
- Genetic testing for ovarian cancer is very important. Our experts advise women who have a family history of ovarian cancer to seek out a genetic counselor.
“Jaxxon Elijah Brosnan, born 3:06pm 11/12/22… all good blessings to you my dearest grandson, welcome,” Brosnan wrote in an Instagram post marking the momentous occasion.Read More
Brosnan’s son Sean Brosnan and daughter-in-law Sanja Banic welcome the newest addition. The two also have a seven-year-old daughter named Marley.
The acclaimed James Bond actor lost his first wife, Cassandra Harris, to ovarian cancer more than 20-years-ago. He also lost his daughter Charlotte of the same disease. She is the mother of his two older grandchildren Isabella and Lucas.
Charlotte was not Brosnan’s biological daughter, but adopted her and her brother Christopher when he married Cassandra, according to the Daily Mail.
Finding Peace After Cancer Loss
Brosnan stayed right by his first wife Cassandra’s side while she battled ovarian cancer for four years, and she eventually succumbed to the disease at 43-years-old. In 2013, Brosnan’s daughter Charlotte also passed away from ovarian cancer at 42. This particular cancer has made a huge impact on their family. Since their passings, Brosnan has become an advocate for raising awareness about the diagnosis, and his story has inspired many.
Coping with losing his wife and daughter was understandably an extremely difficult process for Brosnan, but he was able to find peace through art and meeting his second wife Keely. Brosnan and his wife Keely met in 1994, and the actor has said she’s helped him heal from heartbreak. Having been together for 26 years, and married for nearly 20, Brosnan is proof that even though losing loved ones is always difficult, it’s possible to move forward and make new, incredible memories.
Importance Of Genetic Testing And Ovarian Cancer
Brosnan’s loss of his wife and daughter is a reminder for women to get genetic testing done for ovarian cancer.
Genetic testing for ovarian cancer can lead to life-saving actions and screening tests for early detection. And when it comes to ovarian cancer, which is curable in over 90 percent of cases when diagnosed early enough, genetic testing can be a valuable option, says Dr. Beth Karlan, gynecologic oncologist at UCLA Medical Center.
Mutations of the BRCA gene, like BRCA1 or BRCA2, can place people at a heightened risk for breast cancer or ovarian cancer. But in the U.S., 90 percent of people who carry a BRCA gene mutation aren’t aware of it until someone in their family gets cancer.
These gene mutations are commonly passed down among family members. In fact, if one of your blood relatives is found to carry a BRCA gene mutation, there’s a 50-50 chance you could be carrying it, too. And because BRCA mutations aren’t found on the X or Y sex chromosome, you’re just as likely to inherit the risks of cancers associated with BRCA from your father as you are from your mother.
“Genetic testing can empower you with such important information,” says Dr. Karlan.
If you do have a family history of breast or ovarian cancer, Dr. Karlan strongly recommends having a discussion with a genetic counselor or physician about whether genetic testing could be right for you.
And if you find out you have ovarian cancer, experts say genetic testing should be done at the time of diagnosis, not recurrence. Although current guidelines recommend genetic testing at the time of diagnosis for all women with ovarian cancer, regardless of age, the specific type of ovarian cancer that she has, or her family history, a recent study found that too few women are being tested for these cancer-related gene mutations.
Genetic testing after an ovarian cancer diagnosis can also help your oncologist determine whether certain treatments may be right for your specific cancer.
Coping When A Partner Is Diagnosed With Cancer
After a partner receives a cancer diagnosis, it’s very fair to experience a wide range of emotions. Anger, fear, sadness and anxiety are often a part of the equation, but it’s important to try to do your best to take care of yourself while also prioritizing your partner’s needs. And if you’re looking for some ways to cope, check out these suggestions below from the experts:
- Consider seeing a therapist to share the feelings you’re dealing with.
- Openly discuss the diagnosis with your spouse if they are willing to discuss.
Research the disease and learn about potential treatment paths for your partner.
- Be involved as a caregiver. “I encourage caregivers to come in to visits with my patients, because in that way, the caregiver is also listening to the recommendations — what should be done in between these visits, any changes in treatment plans, any toxicities [side effects] that we need to look out for, changes in dietary habits, exercise, etc.,” Dr. Jayanthi Lea, a gynecologic oncologist at UT Southwestern Medical Center, previously told SurvivorNet.
- Think about joining a support group to connect with people in a similar situation.
- Try to stay positive when you can. “The only advice I have for anyone watching this is laugh — and laugh often, laugh at yourself. Don’t take yourself seriously. Things are already bad. Because once you do that, it’s a game-changer,” Jesus Trejo, a stand up comedian who took care of his parents during their cancer battles, previously told SurvivorNet.
- Take care of yourself and find ways to express your emotions. “I try to stay strong, but then sometimes you just want to go and cry, and you need to cry… it’s good to cry,” Jayne Wexler, a caregiver who took care of her son when he battled cancer, previously told SurvivorNet.
Contributor: SurvivorNet Staff