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Your Stories is a mini-podcast series featuring the unscripted conversations between patients, doctors, and the family and friends who conquer cancer with them.  Participants share their inspiring experiences as wives and husbands, daughters and sons, and sisters and brothers whose lives were interrupted by cancer.

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The purpose of this podcast is to educate and to inform. The podcast is provided on the understanding that it does not constitute medical or other professional advice or services. It is no substitute for professional care by a doctor or other qualified medical professional and is not intended for use in the diagnosis or treatment of individual conditions. Guests who speak in a podcast express their own opinions, experience and conclusions. Neither Conquer Cancer, the ASCO Foundations, nor any of its affiliates endorses, supports or opposes any particular treatment option or other matter discussed in a podcast. The mention of any product, service, organization, activity or therapy on a podcast should not be construed as an endorsement.

Jun 26, 2020

A new house in the suburbs. A thriving business. A growing family. It was a charmed life for college sweethearts Robin and Dave Dubin until Dave was diagnosed with colon cancer at age 29.

Cancer is part of Dave’s family history. Will it be part of his family’s future?

The Dubins talk candidly about the decision to explore genetic testing for their sons and the anxiety that comes with having answers.

A new house in the suburbs, a thriving business, a growing family, it was a charmed life for college sweethearts Robin and Dave Dubin until Dave was diagnosed with colon cancer at age 29. Cancer is part of Dave's family history. Will it be part of his family's future? The Dubin's talk candidly about the decision to explore genetic testing for their sons and the anxiety that comes with having answers.


So you tell me a little bit about what it was like when we met.


So we met as college sweethearts at Tulane University. We were 18.


19, I think.


19? All right.


Just somewhere around there.


We'll go with 19. We were studying and I saw you. And I'm, like, that's the girl I'm going to marry. And I, of course, didn't tell you this until what, how many years later?


Until we were about to get married, you told that story to the cantor that was going to marry us. And that's how I found out about it, seven years later.


Sorry. So we got married. And we were running a business together.


Mhm.


We did the traditional move to the suburbs, buy a house, have a first child. And we sold the business. It was a lot of stress.


So when I started having symptoms at age 29 of colon cancer, it was passed off as stress related because of everything that was happening, even though the whole family history of colon cancer was very well-documented.


Your father and your grandfather were a bit older than you were when they had cancer. So we didn't think too much of it. You had to have surgery--


I did.


--and chemo.


So what was it like watching me go from being a strapping 29-year-old still playing soccer to becoming a patient who can't lift his own son?


You do what needs to get done to get through it.


So you became the proverbial mama grizzly?


Mhm. You were a survivor. You did well. You recovered.


And you know, life kind of got back to normal at that point. And we, over the next seven years, had two more kids. And as a cancer survivor, you actually were five years cancer free.


It was roughly 10 years after the first surgery. I go to donate blood. And essentially, my iron count had dropped like a stone.


And they found a bleeding tumor. And surgery was able to remove it. That's when you went for genetic testing and found out that you carry a mutation and they caused increased risks of different types of cancers.


So what did mama grizzly do this time?


Well, first, you started seeing a high risk oncologist.


I did.


So you now get not just annual colonoscopies, but all kinds of other screenings and scans for other body parts. And a year later, they found a tumor in your kidney.


I was certified defective by that point.


So we really were very fortunate that you were being screened. Because it was a very small tumor.


The surgeon was able to go in the same way they went in previously. And a couple hours later, I come out smelling like roses.


Right. Then our kids get to the ages where they need to have genetic testing. I think that was tougher on me than everything we had to deal with with you.


So our oldest son Zach is now 22. When he was 18, he got genetic testing. And he tested positive. So he had to go for his first colonoscopy at 18. And he's been seeing an oncologist and getting MRIs ever since. He has decided to apply to graduate school to get a master's in genetic counseling.


So he took this setback, if you will, and just turned it into something positive.


We have three boys. And Corey, our middle son, who is 18 now, just had his genetic testing done a couple months ago. And he was negative. It was kind of a surreal experience. I was pretty much preparing myself for another positive result. Zach, who is down at school, he called me the second he was done with class. And he was so relieved that his brother tested negative.


So what does the third one think? Well, he knows, obviously, a lot for a 14-year-old, considering he's been with us for this whole thing. So he's grown up with it. And he sometimes will ask us questions out of the blue about this and what it might mean for him. It's a little sobering to have your 14-year-old ask about cancer.


I think in our case, we would rather he actually did ask the question than not.


Yeah. And we're hearing that there may be vaccines. And it hopefully will change our children's future to the point where they don't have those risks anymore, despite having the genetic mutation.


If there was a crystal ball that said this was going to be the journey 30 years ago, I still wouldn't trade.


Me neither. There's no one else I'd rather go through this life journey with than you.


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