Genetic Testing Saves Lives

My name is Cara Cappello. I am a previvor to breast cancer. I am also the founder of my organization, Breast Previvors ROC. “Previvor” refers to an individual who carries a strong predisposition to cancer but has not yet developed cancer. These individuals proactively sought out knowledge to determine if they inherited a gene mutation by having genetic testing performed. The results of this testing subsequently allow them to make informed medical decisions to reduce their cancer risk. Knowing about an inherited mutation gives people the power to take steps that reduce their risk for cancer, or detect cancer at an earlier and more treatable stage.I believe knowledge is power, and knowing about an inherited mutation gives people the power to take steps that may help reduce one’s risk for cancer, or detect cancer at an earlier and more treatable stage. Breast and ovarian cancer risk can be greatly reduced through increased monitoring, preventive drug treatment, or preventive surgery. I personally have gone through this journey. Through genetic testing in the fall of 2018, I found out I was at a high risk for breast cancer due to the CHEK2 gene mutation. After hearing the news of my fate, I wanted a prophylactic bilateral double mastectomy to reduce my risk of getting breast cancer. After my surgery, I got all the validation I needed. My pathology report showed I had pre-cancerous cells in my right breast. It was just a matter of time before I got breast cancer. I am so glad I had genetic testing done. It saved my life of developing breast cancer. As I was going through my prophylactic mastectomy journey, I really wanted to connect with others going through the same preventive surgery. I was looking into local support groups in Rochester, NY. There are many support groups offered to breast cancer survivors but not for previvors. I felt there is a huge disconnect in the medical community after finding out you are high risk for breast cancer and what your next steps are. Being able to seek out support and advocacy before and after a woman’s prophylactic mastectomy is vital in a woman’s healing journey. I knew there are others out there like myself who find out they are high risk for breast cancer and elect to have a prophylactic mastectomy. Our journey is different than someone going through breast cancer but we still have a journey and need support and advocacy. I longed for connection of others. To feel that I was not alone in this journey. I decided I needed to change that. I wanted the community to know there is support out there for other Previvors like myself. In 2019, I started Breast Previvors ROC. Breast Previvors ROC in an organization dedicated to supporting and advocating women affected by gene mutations that make them high risk for breast cancer. Women who are considering reducing their risk of having breast cancer by having a prophylactic mastectomy. In this journey, it is so important to be able to talk with others that understand what you are going through. I want the community to know there is support for other previvors. I provide private consultations to women going through their journey and I also have a support group that meets several times a year. I am so grateful to be able to support and empower others in their own journey. My hope is to let other previvors know that whatever you are going through you are not alone. I am here for you.