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Gayle S. Patel, MS, CGC

Publication: The Jewish Outlook, Austin
Gayle S. Patel, MS, CGC Texas Oncology

What kind of profession are you in and how did you get into this line of work?
I am a certified genetic counselor. I have a master's degree in genetic counseling and have worked in the Austin area for the past eight years offering genetic counseling to a variety of patients and their families. Genetic counselors are healthcare professionals with specialized training in medical genetics and counseling. Genetic counselors work as members of a healthcare team, providing information and support to families who have member with genetic disorders and to families who may be at risk for a variety of inherited conditions.

I became interested in this field in college after my mom sought genetic counseling and testing for the hereditary breast cancer and ovarian genes (BRCA-1 and BRCA-2), because of a personal and family history and the significant impact genetic testing can have on medical management. I loved learning about genetics and wanted to help educate others on genetics.

What sets you apart from others in your field?
In the past I directly provided counseling and education to patients as a genetic counselor. Now I coordinate the Genetic Risk Evaluation and Testing Program for Texas Oncology, education not only patients and families about genetics, but also physicians, mid-level providers, and nurses. I'm especially excited about the opportunity that I have to help expand our program to other Texas communities.

What inspires you in your career?
It's impossible not to be inspired by the strength and resilience of the cancer patients that we treat, as well as the many examples of compassionate support that we see from friends and loved ones, and from the medical teams. Healthcare is rightly focused largely on science, medicine, and technology - treating the cancer. But we also are involved in helping patients cope, understand their illness, and learn ways to help prevent it for themselves and their families. I am very much surrounded by inspiration at Texas Oncology.

What is your typical day like?
Each day is different but almost every day you can find me drawing pedigrees (family trees), reviewing records, and talking to patients and doctors about the importance of genetic evaluations and testing.

What are your goals for your business?
My goal is to increase awareness on the importance of family history and hereditary cancer syndromes. By identifying individuals with hereditary cancer syndromes I hope to prevent cancer in families at high risk. Ultimately, understanding genetic risks can help save lives.

If you could give your clients one piece of advice or information that would help them in relationship to your business, what would that be?
Know your family history! Knowing your family medical history allows you to take steps to reduce your risk. Talk to your family to gather your family history and then doctor if you have concerns.

This story originally appeared in The Jewish Outlook

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