“The Jewish gene makes us more prone to cancer.”
Nirmala Vaze, 67, with daughter Sampada Peshwe, 40 Nagpur
Folklore says the Konkanastha Brahmins migrated to India from the frontier lands of Europe. When Vaze went for genetic testing at the Royal Marsden Cancer Hospital in London, it revealed a sub- type of an inherited genetic mutation found in the cancer- prone Ashkenazi Jews of Eastern European descent.
The‘ faulty’ gene that led Angelina Jolie to decide on a preventive double mastectomy is also an ‘ Ashkenazi Jewish mutation’. For Vaze, it was a moment of deep connect with her family’s ancient legacy: The genetic root that explained why cancer had ravaged 15 lives in the last three generations. Vaze was 41when she found the first lump on her breast. It broke her heart when her daughter Sampada was diagnosed with breast cancer at 26. “What have I passed on to you,” she had said. “Your cancer, yes, but also your fighting spirit,” her daughter had replied.