People have asked me how I plan to commemorate HBOC Week and Previvor Day. How will I honor and remember those whose lives have been irreparably changed by hereditary cancer? Will I be doing anything special to celebrate?
Yes and no.
This year I will be at the Great American Ballpark on September 19, joining our Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky FORCE group for a ceremonial Passing of the Torch at the Red’s home game. Passing of the Torch highlights the hereditary link between breast and ovarian cancer; you can read about the origin and significance of the event on my blog post from the 2010 Passing of the Torch in Washington, DC. In Orlando I will attend a screening of In the Family, the poignant and insightful documentary by Joanna Rudnick that chronicles how HBOC devastates families.
Attending events is just one of the many ways I will acknowledge these special seven days. I will be distributing brochures, writing articles, blogs, and educational pieces about hereditary cancer, and I will be thinking about people and families who are struggling because of cancer. I will certainly take a moment to reflect back on my own journey. Like so many in our community, my life and that of my family was forever changed with my breast cancer diagnosis at age 33 and the subsequent revelation that I had inherited a BRCA2 mutation from my father. On the heels of that experience, in 1999 I founded FORCE to assure that our community could unite, raise awareness, and be recognized as important cancer stakeholders. Leaving my veterinary career behind, my work at FORCE has become my full-time (and then some) job, my passion, and my calling. I will certainly spend some time acknowledging and appreciating all we have accomplished since last year, as I reread my blog about the very first HBOC Week/Previvor Day and watch the msnbc news piece about the milestone. These accomplishments remind me to take stock in how far we’ve come. Yet, despite advancements in research, people are still being diagnosed with cancer, people are undergoing life-altering surgeries and treatment, and we are still losing members to cancer. This is an unacceptable status quo. There is so much more to do.
So I have big plans for HBOC Week, but at the same time they are fairly routine. I will be responding to helpline calls and email messages with information and resources, planning new programs to meet the unmet needs of our community, and advocating loudly for the research, legal protections, and resources for our community.
In short, for me it will be a typical week at the office.
What will you do to commemorate our week? Read about planned events and ideas for special things that you can do. We would love for you to share your plans with us.