I’ve been a nationally certified sign language interpreter for over 25 years and have primarily worked in health care settings for more than a decade. In the summer of 2013, I took a genetics workshop and learned about at-home DNA tests. For fun, I took a test; I thought my results—testing positive for a mutation in a BRCA1 gene—were wrong because I don’t have a history of breast cancer in my family. But after meeting with a genetic counselor and being retested, I learned that I do have a mutation. Since then, I’ve shared this information with my family, found FORCE and tried to learn as much as possible about what this meant for me, my sisters and my children. I’ve had prophylactic surgeries, and I’ve learned that two of my sisters and both of my daughters are also positive for the gene mutation.
Thanks to FORCE, we have a support network and a strong community of people that we can turn to for understanding, validation and lifelong friendships. I have been a FORCE Peer Navigator and Community Leader since 2016. I am honored to give back to an organization that has empowered me with knowledge and networking and changed my life in so many positive ways. I currently lead a support group for Deaf and Hard of Hearing previvors, survivors and their support systems. The fact that FORCE provides webinars and meetings in American Sign Language is a testament to their dedication to every person with a hereditary predisposition to cancer. I am a proud previvor and look forward to being a FORCE volunteer for years to come.