BRCA Genes Simplified

aware·ness (ə-ˈwer-nəs) noun  “Conscious knowledge.” Preventing hereditary cancer starts with awareness. Here is my second graphic in what will be a series illustrating the basics of genes and genetic mutations to hopefully help raise awareness about what can be a life-saving subject.

I want to give a big thank you and shout-out to Michelle Springer, a certified genetic counselor, for being my technical reviewer on this project.

You can download a PDF of this infographic at https://genetionary.org/brca/

Again, like my first illustration in the series, I created this infographic with a heavy heart and with the hope that this information might help spare someone a cancer diagnosis. My wife died of a hereditary cancer (TNBC) that was caused by a BRCA2 mutation. Her cancer diagnosis and untimely death could have been prevented. Unfortunately, because of medical privacy laws, information about her family’s germline mutation went unshared for years. Changing laws, no matter how outdated or adverse, can be difficult. So that has led me to use my many years of experience as a professional illustrator to try and raise awareness with my art.


How to Share Genetic Mutation Information

I believe very strongly in the Duty to Warn when there is any danger to the life of another person. And that includes sharing information about genetic mutations and potential cancer risks.

Unfortunately, there are medical privacy laws that hinder the sharing of genetic information among family members. That leaves the task to family members who might be unsure of how to approach other genetic relatives about a difficult and complex subject.

materials for sharing information about a genetic muation with other genetic relatives
Sharing information about genetic mutations with relatives who may have inherited the same mutation and who may be at risk of cancer can be a complicated task. It is not an “Oh, by the way.” subject. It requires specific information to help relatives make informed choices and to help them to navigate an often-difficult health care system.

I became a hereditary cancer prevention advocate because those who knew about a BRCA2 mutation in my late wife’s family did not openly and honestly talk about it. Tragically, they did not share the specific information that was needed to prevent her hereditary cancer diagnosis and untimely death.

So as an advocate, I have created a page where I have assembled materials that will help with the task of sharing the most important information with those who might be at risk. Breaking the cycle of hereditary cancer in families starts with open and honest communication.

Knowledge is power!

Here is a link to the page: https://genetionary.org/gene_share/


Ending All Hereditary Cancer

A graphic with a light bulb with the logo of ConnectMyVariant.org inside. Below it is the text: A new way to think about ending all hereditary cancer. Created by Mark A. Hicks, MARKiX.net & genetionary.org

ConnectMyVariant.org is an educational health-focused nonprofit organization that supports individuals and families with inherited disease, such as hereditary cancer, with early detection and prevention efforts.

It also works to increase awareness of the benefits of family outreach among physicians and others who provide preventative care, as well as those in the genealogy community.

Every month I will be sharing an image I have created as a volunteer advocate for ConnectMyVariant to help bring attention to the nonprofit's efforts to connect families and save lives.



Your Genetic Relatives & Degrees of Separation Simplified

This is something many people struggle with. Granted, it can be confusing, but it is something very important to know when it comes to hereditary diseases, hereditary cancer, and sharing genetic information with your family. These are the relatives to start with when you have important family health history to share.

A graphic showing the first three degrees of separation among genetic relatives. 1st-degree are parents, siblings, and children. 2nd-degree are grandparents, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, grandchildren. 3rd-degree are great-grandparents, first cousins, grand- nieces & nephews, great-grandchildren
Keep in mind that the same disease-risk variant may be carried by numerous relatives separated by many degrees over multiple generations. That’s why knowing and sharing family health history is very important. 

A PDF of this graphic can be downloaded at genetionary.org

It is a companion piece to go along with a DNA graphic I created: