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My story begins with my interest in genetics that was first discovered in a junior high school science class. The teacher talked about hitchhiker thumbs, widow's peaks, mid-digital hair and tongue rolling. I came home from school that day with an evolving view on all of the differences that we have and why we have them. Then, and now, the dramatic effects of such a tiny alteration in such a tiny instruction code that is present in all living things awed and inspired me. It wasn't until I was a sophomore in college though that I found the career for me. Genetic counseling would allow me to work with people as well as the science that I knew would always intrigue me.
I began my career in genetic counseling at a university clinic that saw families with all types of genetic concerns, including reproductive, pediatric, cancer and neuro. After many years in this setting, I was fortunate to be able to switch gears and join the InformedDNA team. When I made that change, I was also able to focus my career more on families with concerns for hereditary cancer syndromes.
As I have had the privilege to provide genetic counseling to many strong, courageous families, I've been able to see the complex and oftentimes emotional issues that these families must face. Being aware of and sharing resources that can help provide families with the support that they need is a critical part of the service that I provide.
Without question, FORCE is a very valuable resource for a great number of the families. With so many different opportunities available to learn, cope, and connect with others who have similar stories and questions, FORCE truly has something for everyone in this community of previvors, survivors, and those who love them. Because of this, FORCE is the first resource that I direct those to who have recently received the news, “You have a BRCA mutation.”
When offered the opportunity to be the genetic counselor to provide genetics expertise to those in the FORCE community with questions on the call line, I accepted without hesitation. Since then, I’ve been able to discuss genetics questions with those who have called in, helping to provide answers to those in need. This past summer I was able to attend the FORCE conference, allowing me to help answer questions in a face-to-face setting. The answered questions that I have been able to provide to the FORCE community are dwarfed in comparison to the wisdom and inspiration that I have received from my work with FORCE families. I hope to continue to learn and grow with my interactions. I appreciate the contributions of each and every member of the FORCE community and feel honored to be among such a remarkable group of people.