Yesterday in San Francisco, thousands of people turned out for the Race for the Cure, a fundraising event put on by the Susan G. Koman Foundation for breast cancer awareness. Every year with few exceptions I have raced in honor of my mother, who was first diagnosed with breast cancer at age 35. She is a testament to what it means to be a survivor, zealously pursuing a life defined not by so many surgeries and recoveries but by her love for family, friends and personal interests. My mother has never considered herself a patient or a victim. She is, as my grandmother once put it, “a fireball that descended on Phoenix in 1960 and has been lighting things up ever since!”
As you know from the previous post, it’s also ovarian cancer awareness month. What does breast cancer have to do with ovarian cancer? A small percentage of people have hereditary forms of these cancers, which are caused by inherited changes in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene. These gene changes put you at increased risk for both ovarian and breast cancer.
Genetic testing is available, but it’s not for everyone — and it should be done in concert with genetic counseling.
FORCE: Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered. FORCE is a nonprofit organization for women with increased risk of cancer due to family history and genetic status, and for members of families in which a BRCA mutation may be present.