Grace's Story

Grace and her sistersI was 33, unmarried, and childless when I tested positive for the BRCA mutation.

My appointment to hear my results was in the same medical complex where my sister Mary was recovering from bilateral mastectomy. At 36, she was diagnosed with breast cancer and positive for a BRCA mutation.

Despite seeing the effects of cancer up close, I wasn't fully convinced of its power. Although surgery was an option I had considered, my fear led to inaction.

Then I met Linda Pedraza through the Joining FORCEs Conference.

Without the generosity of donors to the conference scholarship fund, I wouldn't have been able to attend. At the time, I didn't earn enough to travel to Tampa from Boston. I was fortunate to be awarded a scholarship.

As I watched In the Family at the conference, Linda Pedraza spoke to me. In the film Linda says, "I'm living proof that the technology doesn't always catch things."

Living proof. And then I realized: Linda isn't living anymore.

It was the conference, and Joanna Rudnick's film that motivated me to collect the information that I needed to consider my options. During that amazing weekend I attended presentations by top researchers on all aspects of hereditary breast and ovarian cancer. I gained courage from all the other people at the conference trying to make sense of what to do with their hereditary knowledge. What I gained at the conference was a valuable, even life-saving experience that I will never forget.