Ten years ago, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. While waiting to be seen at the radiologist’s office, I picked up a FORCE brochure and tucked it in my folder. Then an MRI revealed cancer in my other breast, and I was shocked! A light bulb went off ‒ I whipped out the FORCE brochure and started reading. I am Jewish and of Ashkenazi descent, but as far as I knew, no one in my line had ever had breast cancer. After testing positive for the BRCA1 genetic mutation, I was ready to choose the right surgeries for me.
FORCE was the key to discovering my genetic mutation, enabling me to make informed decisions to protect my health. Today I am well, and I am immensely proud to be part of the FORCE team. I am a trained Peer Navigator and Research Advocate and a regular at our Northern New Jersey Support group meetings. I get special satisfaction from speaking with women who suddenly find themselves having to make serious decisions within a whirlwind of complex choices. Helping them understand their options, providing them with good resources, and simply lending an ear based on my personal experience is incredibly rewarding.
I have since learned that my father’s mother died of breast cancer at age 45 in 1939. I never knew Grandma Rose, but I had been told that she died of a cerebral hemorrhage. Women’s health issues were never discussed back then. They were considered shameful and were kept hush-hush. Organizations such as FORCE did not exist, and resources were scarce. I am so grateful that times have changed, that we all have FORCE at our disposal, and that together we are helping better the lives of those like me at risk.