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Kenneth Knoppow, Detroit, MI

     

  Voices of Force

Age: 64

More like lowlights: My sister finding out she had breast cancer and was BRCA2 positive, me ignoring her warnings until I got virulent prostate cancer

I'm more than my risk… some fun facts about myself:

Favorite book / authors:
All on Fire: William Lloyd Garrison and the Abolition of Slavery

Favorite TV / Movies:
The Mad Adventures of Rabbi Jacob

Favorite Song:
"A Reason for It All" by Eric Bogle

Other favorites?
Favorite Music Club: The Ark, Ann Arbor, MI

 

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My journey

Several years ago my sister, herself an MD (Michigan, 1967) found out that she had breast cancer. She sent warnings to relatives after finding out that she was BRCA2 positive. I got the warnings and ignored them. A few years later I discovered that I had prostate cancer. It turned out that it was not of the "die with it, not of it" variety. Fortunately, they got it out just before it was about to leave the prostate. Thus, I am both a previvor and survivor. I lost my sister 2 1/2 years ago, after a brave fight. There are two commissioned art works in her memory in the Minneapolis Children's Hospital. They were commissioned by the doctors and staff of the hospital where she practiced as a pediatric rheumatologist.
Since finding out about the mutation, I also tested positive for BRCA-2. I know the chances are 50-50 of passing the mutation on. However, my niece, my nephew, and my 2 daughters have all tested positve, so we're 6 for 6. Since then I have participated in a research study at Boston College relating to how men react to finding that we are positive and have spoken at a Patients Teaching Doctors Forum at Wayne State University on Heridetary Cancer Sydrome.

The hardest part of my journey

Finding out that BRCA2 probably contributed to the death of my sister. Also, discovering that my mutation has been passed on to both of my daughters.

If I could do it over again

Yes! I would take my sister's warning seriously, instead of sluffing it off. I was lucky that my own cancer was discovered in the nick of time!

My participation with FORCE

It gave my background information on Hereditary Cancer Syndrome which was very helpful.

Other thoughts

I realize that the focus has to be on women. I lost my sister, and both of my daughters are previvors. However, the focus should not be EXCLUSIVELY on women. Men are both affected directly (my virulent prostate cancer, 80X the risk of male breast cancer, increased risk of melanoma and pancreatic cancer) and indirectly as carriers. There needs to be more emphasis placed on the effect on males with the mutation. I was shocked when the researcher at Boston College told me that it was extremely difficult to get males involved in her study, as they often looked on this as a female problem.

 


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