When FORCE announced its FOR OUR CHILDREN fundraising effort, I immediately signed up. Although I was extremely reluctant to ask friends and relatives to donate, I knew that many of them would respond because they know how much FORCE means to me. My wife Jessie is fundraising, too – it’s a family effort.
HBOC runs rampant through my family. As the son of a mother who died at 42 of breast and ovarian cancer, I was always aware of the terrible toll cancer had taken in her family – two of her sisters died of cancer – one at 34 and another at 35 – and one brother passed the mutation to his daughter, who died at 44 of breast cancer and passed the mutation to her son and two daughters. Both daughters had breast cancer.
My sister tested positive for the BRCA1 gene mutation 187delAG. I also tested positive. My son tested negative but my daughter tested positive and at age 34 chose to have a prophylactic bilateral mastectomy and then a total hysterectomy. I also have five cousins, a niece and a nephew who are BRCA1+. Five have had breast cancer and one had ovarian cancer. The idea of ‘a better future’ means a lot for our family.
Why FORCE matters:
FORCE has been an important part of my life since I learned that both my daughter and I are BRCA1+. At my daughter’s request, my wife and I became actively involved in FORCE and we are both currently FORCE Outreach Coordinators for northern New Jersey. Aside from our quarterly support group meetings, we speak at various meetings, symposia and panels about FORCE and HBOC.
My wife, daughter and I attended the last three FORCE Conferences. I chaired a panel on Men with Mutations and a genealogy roundtable, while my daughter ran yoga classes.
While the focus of FORCE and discussions about the BRCA gene mutation have naturally focused on women, since they face the greatest risk, it’s also important to me that men be part of the discussion. Men are equally likely to pass along a BRCA genetic mutation; but it is much more than that. I am working to make men aware of the effects of HBOC for their health and their family’s lives.
I was just 12 years old when my mother died. Working with FORCE has allowed me to reconnect with her and help save lives in my family. I am proud to be a member of FORCE.
My fundraising tip:
To motivate potential donors even more, I am matching every dollar they donate with a dollar that I donate. I want them to know how committed I am and how much I appreciate their support for this cause that has become so important to me. I’m grateful I’m able to do this.
Tags: brca, BRCA 1, BRCA 2, brca testing, BRCA1, breast cancer early detection, breast cancer prevention, facing our risk, facingourrisk, FORCE, gene testing, HBOC, hereditary cancer, hereditary cancer research, ovarian cancer, screening and prevention