This is a collection of stories shared by individuals who have Eastern European Jewish ancestry and made the decision to find out their BRCA status. It is our hope that these personal stories help others understand and face their risk of inheriting BRCA gene mutations. Please contact Allison O'Hara at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to share your "I am Oneinforty" story here.
Michelle's "I am Oneinforty" Story
I grew up in Caracas, Venezuela and migrated to the US in 1994. I used to say I knew I was going to have breast cancer - I just did not know when. You see, I am the Jewish daughter of an Ashkenazi mother who had Stage 1 breast cancer at age 49. When I was just five years old, her mother passed away at age 65 because of breast cancer that had metastasized. In addition, my own father died at age 57 of prostate cancer that had also metastasized to his bones. So for me, it was just a matter of time.
Anthony's "Am I Oneinforty?" Story
"We have three daughters. My grandmother and both of my aunts had died of breast cancer, making my risk of being BRCA+ considerably higher than 1:40. My wife’s family had mostly perished in the Holocaust, so she had just about no family history to check. Lauren explained that, despite Julie's lack of known family history of the BRCA cancers, her risk of being BRCA+ was still 1:40."
Sandy's "Am I Oneinforty?" Story
"Saving lives is what Oneinforty is all about. My daughter wanted me to continue her efforts to raise awareness. I have organized two public programs so far and now distribute Oneinforty’s literature and talk it up to my physicians. I present genealogy programs on my search for my mother’s biological family and always explain why knowing your family’s medical history is so important."
Eric's "I am Oneinforty" Story
"In 2016, I tested positive for the BRCA1 gene mutation and began the first of my 'adventures' in annual cancer screenings. I feel guilty when I realize that--in addition to my height and sense of humor--I may have passed this on to my girls. But as my wife likes to say: knowledge is power. With knowledge comes awareness, education, and the ability to choose."
Caitlin's "I am Oneinforty" Story
"It was a long journey, I didn’t arrive at my decision quickly. Now, I am thankful for that. By taking time to make mistakes and make major life changes, I was able to take the next step. Having a mastectomy meant I could put my family history of breast cancer behind me, and I felt relief."
Howard's "I am Oneinforty" Story
"It takes time to absorb the implications of testing and even more time to absorb a positive result. I believe that shortly my immediate female relatives will all be tested. I am grateful for the knowledge I have of my BRCA status and hopeful that this knowledge will save the lives of my sisters, my daughter, and my two female grandchildren."
Amy's "I am Oneinforty" Story
"My sister learned about BRCA and her red flags after attending an ovarian cancer conference; she was under fifty years old diagnosed with ovarian cancer, of Ashkenazi Jewish descent, and had two separate primary cancers. It was then my family put the puzzle pieces together about my Dad's mom Lillian, my grandmother."
Janet's "I am Oneinforty" Story
"Looking back, my biggest regret is that the information about BRCA gene mutations' connection with the Ashkenazi Jewish community was not known, or certainly not publicized, in the years leading up to my sister’s diagnosis. She might still be alive had she known and been tested."
Bob's "I am Oneinforty" Story
"The very first step is to make sure we are tested...Now that we know what has to be done, we can have such a positive impact on future generations. I can tell you first hand that you will feel the peace of mind that knowing brings. I never had that opportunity and urge you to grasp it now."
Rebecca's "I am Oneinforty" Story
"I take comfort in knowing that, if I am diagnosed with pancreatic cancer one day, it will likely be caught early, like my breast cancer was. I trust that early detection achieved through frequent monitoring made possible by knowing that I have a BRCA gene mutation will mean that a diagnosis will not be life threatening."
Lennie's "I am Oneinforty" Story
"After electing to have a prophylactic bilateral mastectomy with reconstruction, I was diagnosed with stage 1 breast cancer. I already had an aggressive triple negative tumor in one of my breasts despite years of annual mammograms. While Stacey was in remission, I was having chemotherapy."
Jessica's "I am Oneinforty" Story
"In 1996, when I was 10 years old, my mother died of breast cancer on her 36th birthday. Her death, along with the fact that her grandmother and two great aunts had also died of breast cancer, prompted my aunt (my mother’s sister) to get tested for a BRCA mutation in the early 2000s."
Susan's "I am Oneinforty" Story
"While being aware of my BRCA1 positive status did not prevent me from being diagnosed with ovarian/fallopian tube cancer, it did allow me to avoid what almost certainly would have evolved into to advanced ovarian cancer. Fortunately, the cancer was detected so early that no chemotherapy or radiation was required."
Sheila's "I am Oneinforty" Story
"I am alive today because I had genetic testing. Three years ago at age 72 I received an email from my first cousin whom I had not heard from in a long time...My cousin wanted to let me know that she had just been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and, after a genetic test, discovered she had the BRCA2 gene mutation."
Debra's "I am Oneinforty" Story
"My name is Debra and I am that one in forty Ashkenazi Jew that has a BRCA gene mutation. I think my story is compelling evidence for every Ashkenazi Jew to get tested for the BRCA gene mutations. If it hadn’t been for the BRCA test, I wouldn’t be here today."