Raising Awareness of Hereditary Cancer
I’ve spent a lot of time in the past month thinking about hereditary cancer issues. Last Friday, I spoke to the Michigan Cancer Genetics Alliance about FORCE. And in between, I’ve had two FORCE outreach meetings. In speaking to the MCGA, I communicated my concern with the lack of awareness of both hereditary cancer and the importance of Genetics Counselors in the process. Through my interactions with many of them, I know that they have similar concerns. They had some nice suggestions of various groups within Michigan that may help me take on this issue. I talk to women everyday who don’t know they are at risk and don’t know what to do if they are at risk. Clearly I fit in the “didn’t know I was at risk” category. We’ve come along way through organizations like FORCE and Be Bright Pink but we still have a long way to go.
At my most recent FORCE meeting, I met a woman who’s sister was diagnosed with DCIS (stage 0 breast cancer). Prior to this diagnosis, she had no idea that she was a risk for a BRCA mutation. She tried to get genetic testing but her insurance company turned her down. 6 months later her sister was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer and 1 year later is back with more cancer. Could this be avoided? This is just one of many stories I hear. How can we make sure that more women have the knowledge they need to ultimately avoid a cancer diagnosis? Do we need a specific week devoted to hereditary cancer awareness? I need your help, my readers, to make sure that we are able to inform, educate and spread the word. We are a small but mighty group and we can do this together. Post some comments and let me know how you think we can make an impact.