"For the last 19 years I had pretty much told myself, 'Okay, make your peace with the fact that you gave it to him.'"
Angie Rundle lives in St. Louis, and her son, Chris, is a student at the University of Missouri. Their family shares a rare inherited genetic condition, called familial adenomatous polyposis, which causes cancer.
They spoke about living with the uncertainty of whether or not Chris inherited the gene that causes the disease.
Missouri Health Talks gathers Missourians’ stories of access to healthcare in their own words.
Angie Rundle: Do you remember, at all, when I first talked to you about it?
Chris Rundle: When we first talked? Um, probably that grandma would probably do a lot of that, I'm thinking. Because let's say you were in the hospital, right? For the day, for the weekend, or, you know, something like that, then I would go with her.
And she would probably be the first line to say, “Your mom's sick right now” or something? She probably explained it in a way.
Chris: But I don't remember actually learning.
Angie: Uh huh.
Chris: Because, you know. So yeah, I keep saying it's feels like just how my life was.
Chris: So, I don't remember when it first started.
Angie: Yeah, I'm wondering if it might have been when my brother also found out that he had it. So, at that point, Christopher would have been eight years old.
Chris: I don't think it was until later that I had thought about that it was a genetic disorder. So, it was explained to me, probably, as just a type of cancer, not necessarily genetic, is what I'm thinking.
Angie: And then I do remember us having a conversation at some point – I'm going to guess it was probably high school, and I asked you, “Would you like to find out? Or when would you like to find out?”
Because there's two schools of thought on this, you could try to just ignore it and pretend like it's not there, and then as you get older, we could go ahead and test for it.
"Because you were negative for the gene, it would have actually given you some relief, if we had known."Angie Rundle
Or because this cancer develops, essentially, when you start puberty, you could go ahead and get tested when you're like 16, and then you'll just have that knowledge until you do something about it.
So, neither is great, but I left it up to you, and you told me you wanted to wait.
Chris: Yeah, growing up, I kind of always just assumed. I didn't know that it was a 50-50 thing.
Angie: You thought you had it for sure?
Angie: Because my mother had it.
Angie: My brother had it.
Chris: And both of my uncles had it.
Angie: That's right.
Chris: My grandpa died of it, and my great- grandpa died of it.
Chris: That seems like, okay, it's gonna happen. So, you might as well wait. It's not like it's the knowledge is still there. Anyways, so yeah, I do remember that.
Angie: Yeah. Because you were negative for the gene, it would have actually given you some relief, if we had known.
Chris: Yeah, that’s true.
Angie: If we had known, and we had gone ahead and done the test at 16.
Angie: You would have been relieved, and we wouldn't have had to worry about it.
Angie: But at least we're relieved now.
Chris: To me, it wasn't really scary to try and find something out something like that, you know, going into a medical, medical building, it's kind of bleak, and you're thinking like, “Man, I'm, I'm going to find out I have cancer today.”
Angie: Because it was during the height of COVID, they didn't let me go into the actual hospital. So, I was in my car, and I got the phone call – the doctor who did it was my doctor, and he said to me, “We're all done. Would you be upset if the only thing he inherited from you was your blue eyes?”
And I said, “Are you kidding me? No, that's amazing,” and I started crying. I was so relieved, and also kind of surprised, because for the last 19 years I had pretty much told myself, “Okay, make your peace with the fact that you gave it to him.”
So, finding out that he didn't was miraculous.