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This tribute is to honor Dr. Adam Ofer for his tireless efforts in educating his patients, other physicians and different community groups alike of the dangers that hereditary breast and ovarian cancer pose to all. Specifically, this dedication is to show our sincerest gratitude for the man who saved my life.
My name is Marina Zinger Richeson. In late August of 2012
I went to see Dr. Adam Ofer in Westport, CT about fibroids, but after hearing my family history of breast and ovarian cancer, plus learning that I am of Ashkenazi Jewish decent he convinced me to get tested for BRCA.
Dr. Ofer asked me if I was interested in testing, but I said if I have anything I don't want to know. He said you can do what you feel comfortable doing, but I am still going to explain to you about BRCA, what it does to carriers, their children and future generations.
With that, he proceeded to educate me about BRCA. Honestly, I didn't know anything about it up until this point of my life. Dr. Ofer told me about the GINA act and that some insurance carriers cover the cost of the test. By the time he was done, I was left with no reason why I shouldn't be tested.
I got tested and came back BRCA1+ with 5385insC marker. Within weeks of this I scheduled two surgeries. First, hysterectomy & oophorectomy which took place in November of 2012 and the next was scheduled for December of 2012, but didn't take place. What unfolded after hyst/ooph was truly a miracle.
While recovering, I found FORCE and spent days navigating through site. I learned that there was a word, "previvor" dedicated to me and I was so happy that I was still a previvor at 46 years old and not a survivor. On the way to my one week post op appointment I was happy that I was moving along in the process.
When Dr. Ofer entered the room I proceeded to educate him about FORCE and HBOC week and previvor word, but he didn't look engaged. I kept talking and continued showing him articles from FORCE site but he looked sadder and sadder. Then he said to me Marina, I have good news and not so good news. The good news is that the surgery saved your life and not so good news is that pathology report revealed that you had 1mm tumor in one fallopian tube and 6mm in the other. The tumors were confined but poorly differentiated. I was in shock.
How could I have fallopian tube cancer? About one month prior to that I did several bike treks including, 100 mile bike trek across Cape Cod for American Lung Association, I only eat organic products, and don't consume any alcohol or tobacco. I'm in the gym seven days per week. I was speechless.
Dr. Ofer notified other surgeons who were going to do PBM and reconstruction of cancer and asked them to put the surgery on hold. He also scheduled an appointment for me with gynocological oncologist and asked him to hold a tumor board. The decision was to give me six rounds of chemotherapy and staging surgery, but thanks to Dr. Ofer I am expected to be okay.
I know I am lucky in more ways than one, but the person I owe my life to is Dr. Adam Ofer. Dr. Ofer is passionate about BRCA and frequently gives lectures in the community on the topic.
So my first visit with Dr. Ofer took slightly longer than expected, but he didn't care about his schedule. He cared about me. With that, he saved my life and I would like to honor Dr. Ofer for being a true hero in BRCA awareness.
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Marina & Robert Richeson