ICARE Newsletter Fall 2022 

 Community Spotlight 

When I was just 8 years old my mother was diagnosed with a very aggressive breast cancer. I didn’t really
understand the concept of cancer at that age, but I knew what was happening was terrible. After many
surgeries and treatments, she passed away 2 years later at the age of 35. There was no hereditary cancer
testing in the 1980’s, but somehow the message came through to me that I too could be at risk. I began having
mammograms sometime during my 20’s, even before guidelines were established, and I attempted self-breast
exams regularly even though no one really taught me how to. In 2001, at the age of 31, I felt a hard lump in
my breast and even before the biopsy came back as cancer, I knew that it was. I was diagnosed with a stage II
triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC). Luckily, by this time testing for BRCA1/2 had become available and
thankfully my medical oncologist was savvy enough to know that I needed to be tested. My result came back
positive for a BRCA1 mutation, which is associated with a high risk of breast cancer among several other
cancers. This changed my world overnight, but also led me to make medical decisions that ultimately saved my
life, which is why 21 years later I can write about it here. Unfortunately, I have lost too many close family members to BRCA1-related cancers, but I decided that I am still here for a reason. I decided to go to nursing school to pursue oncology and ended up becoming the lead nurse in a high-risk cancer program in 2009. I enrolled in the ICARE study while attending my first FORCE conference in 2010 and quickly realized that my participation in this study was helping to further research for many other families just like mine. Over the past 8 years I have been working as a Regional Medical Specialist and Nurse Planner for continuing education at Myriad Genetics. I regularly share ICARE research and publications with the healthcare professionals that I work with along with the opportunity to enroll their
patients in the study. I love how the newsletters highlight the publications that come from updates from study participants, including my own. I may be just one person but because I attended the right conference at the right time and made the right decision to take a proactive role in helping others with hereditary cancer, I have been able to affect thousands of patients. That has given me an amazing sense of purpose with a disease that seems so purposeless. – Monique Tiffany, MSN, RN, CGRA, BHCN

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