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Future Physician Plans to Bridge Doctor-Patient ‘Experience Gaps’

In the future, when she is a practicing medical doctor, FORCE donor Madeline K. looks forward to the chance to create a better understanding between physicians and their patients with genetic mutations.  Madeline is currently in medical school and learned that she carries a mutation in 2012 after her mother was diagnosed with ovarian cancer.

“I feel that my own experience as a patient and as the daughter of a cancer patient provide me with an important perspective,” she notes.  “While my BRCA1 diagnosis has been challenging, it is my key to the other side of my white coat, so to speak. While every patient has their own unique perspective, I think my own experiences as a patient will allow me to better connect with my future patients.” At the same time, she feels that she will be able to help clinical colleagues be more aware of the unique challenges patients with genetic mutations face.

“Testing positive for a genetic mutation can be an isolating experience. It has actually taken me years to wrap my head around it,” notes Madeline.  She shares that she has attended live meetings, uses the FORCE website and has received one-on-one conversations through the FORCE Peer Navigation Program.  “It is so nice to talk with someone who has been through a similar experience. It has been incredibly helpful to me.”

Madeline’s mom is an ovarian cancer survivor who had genetic testing done in 2012.  Upon learning her mother was positive for a genetic mutation, Madeline underwent testing herself.  “I must say I am thankful for FORCE’s leadership role in bringing PARP inhibitors to the market as they are benefitting my mom today.”

Madeline pointed out that she also values FORCE’s advocacy work.  “I value all the work FORCE did to pass GINA,” she said.   (In 2008, the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) was passed to protect individuals from genetic discrimination in health care and employment.)  “An issue that concerns me now is my ability to get life insurance coverage in the future as someone with a genetic mutation, but I trust that FORCE is on it.”

Additionally, Madeline says it is, “Nice to see what FORCE has done by creating the ABOUT Research Network.” This program matches people with genetic mutations to clinical trials specific to them.  Promising trials can potentially become delayed or cancelled when they are not filled with enough study participants.  This can become a concern because trials are vital in bringing about new treatments. 

“The nature of treatments is complex.  It is also complicated to find suitable clinical trials for enrollment. Even for myself and my mother, a nurse, reading through new clinical trials and their eligibility requirements is confusing to say the least. I am glad we have this resource to simplify the process and to help connect people in the community with clinical trials specific to this rather small population.”

In the future, Madeline hopes to participate in FORCE’s Peer Navigation Program, which Madeline calls “an incredible resource to help newly diagnosed patients feel much less alone.”

Are you someone considering making a special donation or planned gift to FORCE?  For guidance, information on special benefits and more, contact Marcy Rubic, VP of Leadership Gifts at (866) 288-7475 ext. 715 or marcyr@facingourrisk.org.

FORCE:Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered