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I first became aware of HBOC as a sophomore in high school when a family member tested positive for the BRCA2 mutation. Over the course of that school year, this person underwent multiple preventative surgeries to minimize her risk for developing cancer. Throughout the process, she found FORCE and its community to be a source of information, support, and strength—and she ultimately volunteered for FORCE. Inspired by her, I wished to give back and further the mission of such an important organization.
I began my involvement with FORCE when I volunteered at the 2010 Joining Forces Conference in Orlando, Florida. At the conference, I did everything from preparing attendees' tote bags to selling FORCE raffle tickets in the event hall. It was a wonderful experience meeting many members of the FORCE community and it gave me a desire to become more active within the organization. Two years later, I participated in the FORCE Research Advocacy Training program (FRAT). This is a series of expert-led webinars that cover topics such as HBOC, genetics, and the research process. This knowledge has proven useful in my current role as a member of the American BRCA Outcomes and Utilization of Testing (ABOUT) Network steering committee. Spearheaded by FORCE and the University of South Florida, this network is part of the federally funded Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute that is designed to better engage patients and consumers in the research process.
With a close connection to HBOC, volunteering for FORCE has been a transformative experience. Since high school, I have been inspired by this organization's vision of empowerment. Now a rising college senior, I feel proud of my contributions and wish to continue volunteering for FORCE in the future.