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Volunteer Spotlight - Shelley Luedtke

February 28, 2024

Volunteer Spotlight - Shelley Luedtke

During one of my gynecology visits in 2004, my doctor asked about my family’s genetic history. After hearing that my mother was diagnosed with ovarian cancer at age 52 and my maternal grandmother died of ovarian cancer at age 42, she suggested that I see a genetic counselor. Even though my mom was going through chemo treatments at the time, she traveled 4 1/2 hours to see the genetic counselor with me. My insurance paid to check to see if she carried a genetic mutation. When my mom’s result came back positive for the BRCA1 gene mutation, I was tested and learned that I had the same mutation. The next week, at age 29, I scheduled a hysterectomy bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy, not really thinking about menopause or other long-term consequences of this surgery. And if I could go back and do it all over again, I wouldn’t change that decision. I feel lucky to have been given this knowledge so I could take action to reduce my cancer risk.

In 2012, I decided to learn more about the BRCA1 genetic mutation, and all the risks associated with it by attending the FORCE Conference. That’s where I met Sue Friedman, FORCE’s Executive Director and Founder, Sandy, FORCE’s Volunteer Director, and many other people who were like me, a “Previvor”!  While at the conference, I felt compelled to help others through their journey and decided to become a volunteer. I have a very supportive husband, Scott, but not everyone has that. I thought that I could be that support for those who need it. Since 2012, I have worn four volunteer hats at FORCE: a Peer Navigator, a Wisconsin Community Leader, a Message Board Moderator and a Research Advocate. It is truly an honor to support others through their own journey, and honestly, those that I talk to help me as well! It’s so nice to know that we are not alone on this genetic adventure!! 

Posted in: Volunteer Spotlight
Tags: Ovarian Cancer , BRCA1 , Cancer Risk , Volunteer

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