Celebrating Previvorship on Father's Day


I celebrate Previvor Day every day, but more so on Father’s Day.

For those unfamiliar with the term, a previvor is someone who has not been diagnosed with cancer but is at a higher risk for cancer due to certain inherited genetic mutations (BRCA1, BRCA2, CHEK2, ATM, PALB2, TP53, MLH1, MSH2, MSH6, etc., etc.). Being a previvor does not mean you will get hereditary cancer; there are ways to reduce the risk. But those choices can be life-altering.

My daughter is a previvor.

Imagine being in your 20s and watching your mother die a horrific death caused by a pathogenic genetic mutation that you had just recently learned that you also carry. Then having to face all the life-changing medical decisions and procedures to reduce your cancer risk without your beloved mother by your side. That takes exceptional courage.

Genomic science has given my child, who has grown into a kind, creative, and confident scientist, a chance to live a full life cancer-free, something her mother did not get. Because of laws and attitudes still stuck in the last century, information that would have saved her mother’s life did not get shared.

Father’s Day gives me another opportunity to advocate for hereditary cancer awareness and prevention. And prevention starts with knowing and sharing family health/cancer history — both maternal AND paternal.

Everyone has tumor suppressor genes like BRCA (BReast CAncer) 1 and 2. Mutations in those
and other genes can cause many different cancers. And knowing that genetic mutations can be passed down for generations from fathers as well as mothers can be life-saving.  

Happy Father’s Day to all the fathers of previvors.

Life is fragile. Knowledge is power.


A Website About Genes, Genetic Mutations, and Hereditary Cancer

A Website About Genes, Genetic Mutations, and Hereditary Cancer

When I was my late wife's cancer caregiver, I often found myself trying to explain to others about her diagnosis, how her cancer could have been prevented, and how our adult child ended up with the exact same BRCA2 mutation as her mother. But I quickly realized that many people lack a basic understanding of genetics, genetic inheritance, and cancer. So, being an illustrator with decades of experience creating educational materials, I started drawing pictures to help explain it.  

I felt what I had illustrated needed to be shared, so I created Genetionary.org, an ad-free site with a simple genetic mutation glossary, my infographics, and materials for sharing family health history. It’s just a simple site with a simple focus: to help raise awareness about hereditary cancer and how it can be prevented. 

My soul mate of 40 years died horribly and needlessly because information wasn’t shared. Nobody should die of a preventable cancer. Nobody!

Please share.