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Patient Stories

A genetic counselor can help you decide if genetic testing and counseling is right for you. Hear from two women who had genetic testing and the impact it had on their lives.

Dani Casper

As a newlywed and only 29, cancer was the last thing on Dani Casper’s mind. When a self-exam lead to a breast cancer diagnosis, Casper postponed her planned honeymoon to receive treatment at Texas Oncology.

She also underwent genetic testing through Texas Oncology’s Genetic Risk Evaluation and Testing Program, which revealed that Casper has Breast and Ovarian Cancer Syndrome, known as BRCA-positive. Armed with the information, she took aggressive measures to protect her health and increased surveillance for ovarian cancer, now that she knew she had a higher probability of developing the disease.

“In many ways, genetic testing and counseling lifted a weight from me, because it answered some of the ‘what ifs’ about cancer and helped me establish a plan for living a healthy life, which now includes two beautiful children.”

“This kind of knowledge is invaluable,” Casper said. “One simple blood test can change the course of your life. Being aware of your risks allows you to make choices to fight cancer even before a diagnosis.”

She has since made the decision to have a full hysterectomy. “I wanted to focus on being a Mommy, rather than worrying about the very high probability of getting ovarian cancer...it was kind of a no-brainer.”

Jenny Ahearn

Jenny Ahearn’s sister was diagnosed with breast cancer in September 2005. Ahearn, then a 42-year-old mother of two, decided to undergo genetic testing herself after learning that, in addition to her sister, her mother’s own aunts had a history of both breast and ovarian cancer. The results of her test showed that Ahearn was BRCA-2 positive and had a high risk for developing ovarian cancer.

Ahearn was under close medical surveillance with alternate screenings every three months of MRI with contrast and diagnostic mammography until February 2011, when she and her physician, Dr. Beth Hellerstedt, decided it was in her best interest to proceed with a double mastectomy.

“I wanted to know about my genetic risks for the sake of my children,” Ahearn said. “I was fortunate enough to have the information I needed to make the choices necessary to protect my health and my future."