9/25/21

National Hereditary Cancer Week and National Previvor Day

National Hereditary Cancer Week is a yearly event that begins of the last Sunday in September and ends the first Saturday in October. National Previvor Day occurs on the Wednesday of that week.
BRCA awareness and previvor ribbon
BRCA Awareness and Previvor Ribbon

The overwhelming grief of losing a loved one to a preventable cancer caused by an inherited genetic mutation is unbearable. Hopefully the information here will help numerous individuals and families avoid the same tragic experience.

Millions of individuals and families are currently facing the challenges of treatment for hereditary breast, ovarian, endometrial, melanoma, pancreatic, colorectal, prostate, blood and other cancers. National Hereditary Cancer Week was created to share information to save lives as well as to recognize and honor those struggling against inherited genetic mutation-caused cancers. That also includes hereditary cancer survivors, previvors, and caregivers, like me.

Last week my brave daughter officially became an inherited BRCA2 mutation previvor. My beloved wife should have been a previvor too. S
adly, in June she traumatically died in my arms from metastatic breast cancer caused by an inherited BRCA2 mutation. Her incredibly courageous struggle against cancer was a nightmare journey through hell with one setback after another. Heartbreakingly, it was all preventable! Genetic testing and prophylactic surgery would have reduced her cancer risk by 95%. Unfortunately, despite a devastating family history of cancer*, the need for urgent genetic testing was never made clear to her by relatives acutely aware of a germline BRCA2 mutation several years before her cancer diagnosis. Had gene sequencing and risk information been expressly shared as soon as it was known, she would be alive and well and celebrating National Previvor Day this year with our daughter. Again, hopefully the information shared here will help other families avoid the same tragic experience.

There are numerous mutations associated with hereditary cancer, including BRCA1/2, ATM, BRIP1,CHEK2, TP53, CDK4,
PALB2, PTEN, RAD51C/D, CDK4, CDKN2A, and several others that families with a history of cancer should be aware of. And the threat of hereditary cancer is something that should be taken very seriously. Cancer is a truly evil disease. A few of the body's cells are dividing uncontrollably. It can arise quickly and spread easily throughout the body and even cross the blood-brain barrier. And it can be or become therapy-resistant. However, there are many options for lifesaving early detection and even preventing hereditary cancers.

National Hereditary Cancer Week is an excellent time to educate yourself about your family's health history -- especially if there’s a family history of cancer. And act on it! Take the information to your doctor or talk to a genetic counselor. ASAP! And show up for your family too!** Be that lifesaving hero! Sit down and talk to them. And it's not an "oh, by the way" moment. Someone's life may be at stake! Openly, emphatically, and persistently share any inherited genetic threats you might find along with all the data with all those whom might share DNA. Brothers, sisters, adult children, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, and cousins. All of them! You might prevent an unbearable tragedy.

To learn more about hereditary cancer or how you can help improve the lives of families and individuals facing hereditary cancer go to: FacingOurRisk.org or BrightPink.org. Assess your personal risk for breast and ovarian cancer here: www.assessyourrisk.org/

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* Draw a family health and/or cancer history pedigree chart.
(This is actually my wife's
paternal family cancer history chart! Yeah, holy sh_t!)

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**Links for information about talking to your family about health and possible cancer threats: 

Talking to Your Family About Your BRCA1 or BRCA2 Mutation

How to Share Genetic Test Results With Family

It's important to share medical information with your family

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FORCE (Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered) publishes educational brochures about hereditary cancer. Click here for free download info.

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My wife's tribute page at FacingOurRisk.org

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BRCA Previvor Ribbon

By the way, the BRCA Awareness & Previvor Ribbons shown in this post can be downloaded from my website, www.EducatorClips.com, for royalty-free use.

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Take time to care. A little effort and love can make a big difference. Not just in one life, but in all the lives connected to that life.  -- mark


9/24/21

Bottling Grief

 From my grief sketchbook & journal:

Grief Should be Bottled

When you have those moments of entitlement, when you feel superior, when your compassion for others wanes, when you have no empathy, when you put your own selfish needs above your loved ones’ needs, when you take all you have for granted, you take a whiff from the bottle. And it brings you to your knees.

Suddenly an unimaginable heartache hits you. Then an overwhelming fear that your world has forever changed. The bright future that you had so vividly imagined turns dark and bleak. The hopeless feeling that all the things that you held so dear have been ripped from your arms never to be embraced again. The painful guilt of missed opportunities to share your love or just simply say “I love you” sets in. And the tears flow uncontrollably.

Slowly the you regain your composure as the effects wear off. You rise up from your knees with a renewed gratitude for life. And gratefulness that it was only temporary and you thankfully will not have to carry those horrid feelings with you for the rest of your life, unlike me.

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“After sitting at countless deathbeds, I can tell you, no one pines for their houses or cars at the end of life. What is meaningful is the people whom they have loved.” – David Kessler, from the book Finding Meaning, The Sixth Stage of Grief

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A very good video about grief and closure.