By Meagan Raddatz
A CHEK2 diagnosis from my paternal side
My paternal aunt was diagnosed with breast cancer in her forties and received genetic counseling and testing as a result. The tests indicated that she had a CHEK2 genetic mutation. After hearing this news, I immediately made an appointment with a genetic counselor, who recommended genetic testing. The test result showed that I carry the CHEK2 genetic mutation.
The importance of genetic counseling and testing and how a self-exam discovered my thyroid cancer
I used this information to familiarize myself with health risks associated with CHEK2. In doing so, I learned of my increased risk of developing thyroid cancer and how to do a neck self-exam to check for symptoms. I discovered a lump in my neck and a biopsy confirmed that I had papillary thyroid cancer. I am beyond grateful for my genetic counseling and testing. Without it, my cancer would not have been discovered until much later.
When I first learned of my CHEK2 mutation, I was terrified. The fear of the unknown was overwhelming, but I soon came to see my result as a blessing. Not only did I receive quick treatment for my cancer, but I also realized the immense power that comes with information. Early detection is critical.
FORCE: a source of personal connection and hope
FORCE made me feel as though I wasn’t alone during this time. Personal connection to others with shared experiences was a huge part of not only my healing, but also my thriving. With FORCE, I know there is one place I can go for trustworthy research and information.
FORCE gives me hope because I now know there is an unbiased organization who will advocate for those of us facing hereditary cancer. Research is vital and FORCE understands that. This is especially comforting to me since my children may have inherited the CHEK2 mutation as well. I hope that in their future, cancer is something to be cured, not feared.
My cancer diagnosis was, in some ways, easier to manage than my genetic test results. With thyroid cancer, I was given a roadmap to recovery. I was informed of my treatment options and how to manage preventing a recurrence. Through FORCE’s Peer Navigation Program, I have been able to share my journey with others. I also attend a monthly local FORCE support group meeting. FORCE understands that we will all make unique decisions on how we navigate this journey and empowers us to do just that.
Meagan Raddatz, CHEK2 Thyroid Cancer Survivor