Receiving a cancer diagnosis, or exploring the potential role of a strong family history of breast cancer on your health, is a daunting experience. While we are inundated by the wealth of information on the Internet, it can be overwhelming and difficult to shift through conflicting views. Very often the issue of genetic testing is not brought to the forefront in a medical setting while it may greatly impact one’s decision in planning the direction of their treatment.
As part of the Patient Empowerment Program, the monthly “Be Informed” lecture series is offered to increase awareness and assist our patients in making informed and accurate decisions. None of us is armed with a notebook that has a section in it, “Questions you need to ask your treating team in the event of a Breast Cancer or BRCA+ diagnosis." So, providing the “Be Informed” series is not only critical to all of our patients, but greatly appreciated. We are delighted that specialists who focus on the physical and emotional components of treatment, donate their time and expertise to this valuable program.
On Monday, Monika Zak, MS, Senior Genetics Counselor at Winthrop University Hospital, presented a lecture on “Understanding the Role of Genetic Testing” in the Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, PC conference suite. She discussed basic genetics of hereditary cancer syndromes, specifically breast, colon and ovarian cancer. Ms. Zak also provided information to assist in assessing hereditary cancer risk and identifying patients appropriate for associated genetic counseling and testing.
The room was completely filled not only with our patients, but with family members and spouses, as well. Ms. Zak’s presentation style offered a calm to the anxiety that is normally experienced in patients concerned about how their diagnosis will affect their offspring and siblings. We are grateful to Ms. Zak for style, clarity, and a superb lecture.
Here are some of the comments from the participants:
“Monika’s presentation was exceptional.”
“What a sincere presenter. It helped me clarify so many of my questions that I haven’t had the opportunity to ask.”
“Thank you! This practice surrounds itself with professionals, like Ms. Zak, who are so very sensitive to individuals dealing with this formidable foe”.
“I so very much respected Monika’s candor and message to keep things in perspective given the wealth of information.”
-Mollie Sugarman, Clinical Director, Patient Empowerment Program
Photos: (top) The Development of Hereditary Cancer slide (middle) Monika Zak, MS, Senior Genetics Counselor at Winthrop University Hospital (bottom) Ms. Zak presenting