• By Cynthia Rigali Lund
  • Posted June 8, 2017

Things I Know for Sure this Cancer Survivors Month

  *Editor’s Note: June is National Cancer Survivors Month, and Ambry Genetics will be celebrating cancer survivors as well as their families and communities by sharing their inspiring stories.   Although part of me wants to forget, I hear the whispers every day. As a cancer survivor of 4 ½ years, June is a special month that commemorates …


  • By Deepti Babu, MS, CGC
  • Posted May 17, 2017

Lynch Syndrome - It's more common than you think

Did you know that more than 1 in 4 of those with Lynch syndrome (LS) are missed by current genetic testing guidelines? New research from Ambry Genetics and Ohio State University of nearly 35,000 patients will change how the genetics community thinks about genetic testing strategies, lifetime cancer risks, and medical management for people with …


  • By Deepti Babu, MS, CGC
  • Posted April 10, 2017

Can Patients with Hematological Cancer Have Genetic Testing?

The short answer is: Genetic testing is possible, but depends on other factors. The question of whether genetic testing is possible for patients with a history of hematological cancer comes up often in the clinical setting and in the testing laboratory. This makes sense since genetic testing is performed on DNA isolated from white blood cells …


  • By Jackie Connor
  • Posted March 31, 2017

Ambry Experts Provide Insight on Genetic Testing’s Clinical Utility at the 2017 SSO Annual Cancer Symposium

Ambry has continued to provide clinicians with the most relevant and useful information to encourage education about the benefits of genetic testing for patients and ways to streamline genetic testing in clinical practice. At the 2017 SSO Annual Cancer Symposium, Ambry hosted the presentation “On the Cutting Edge: Sharpening Your Genetic Awareness …


  • By David Dubin
  • Posted March 30, 2017

Since You Asked, Here's My Advice to Cancer Patients

In my role as co-founder of AliveAndKickn, people ask me for my opinion all the time.  Topics range from how to manage pain, how to navigate post-cancer survivorship, to whether or not the U.S. will ever become a world soccer powerhouse.  (No, I’m not kidding.)  I’m not big on giving advice, but I try to answer as honestly as I can.   First, …


  • By Selvi Palaniappan, MS, CGC
  • Posted March 9, 2017

Individual Genetic Test Results Lead to Individual Considerations

As a genetic counselor specializing in cancer genetics, I’m happy to be contributing to the Ambry patient blog during National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. Colorectal cancer can happen by chance, but it can also be inherited. Your doctor or genetic counselor can evaluate your family history to determine if you should consider genetic testing …


  • By Cynthia Rigali Lund
  • Posted February 2, 2017

Additional Healing Methods to Fight Cancer: Your Local Community Center

Cancer is an equal opportunity disease: It affects people regardless of age, gender, socioeconomic background or race. One day, you may be walking along, seemingly healthy as a horse and the next day—you’re diagnosed with cancer. Your outlook may be bleak; it might be optimistic. Either way, as the person diagnosed, it’s a feeling of being …


  • By Theresa Smith
  • Posted January 19, 2017

So My DNA Is Messed Up...What Do I Do Next?

Editor’s Note: At a time when we might consider the year ahead, we thought it helpful to re-post this entry from Theresa Smith, patient advocate, who offered her "next steps" after learning at age 45 that she carried a BRCA2 mutation. Sharing the news about my genetic test results with my immediate family was tough. I'll offer …


  • By Aaron Schmidt
  • Posted January 12, 2017

How Can You Use Social Media To Find Support And Resources

Editor's Note: At this time of reflection as we begin the new year, we are re-posting this piece by an expert in digital media/communications to offer you guidance when navigating social media during a journey with cancer or other health issue. Today, hectic work schedules and other increasing demands on everyone’s time mean we …


  • By Georgia Hurst
  • Posted January 5, 2017

Overcoming My Death Anxiety Related To Lynch Syndrome

The new year leaves me contemplating where I am now, and where I have been to get here. When I discovered I had Lynch syndrome more than five years ago, I was absolutely horrified and developed death anxiety. Every single aspect of my life became magnified. I could not help but feel as though a ticking time bomb had been strapped to my back – …


  • By Tameron Harvell, RN, MSN, CFNP-BC
  • Posted December 22, 2016

You're Not To Blame

Editor’s Note: We are re-posting this entry by Tameron Harvell, a registered nurse practitioner, to raise the profile of “survivor’s guilt”  an issue that can be particularly challenging during the holidays. You’ve just received your cancer genetic testing results and no mutation was found! What a relief …


  • By Dr. Dennis J Ahnen
  • Posted December 8, 2016

Here’s To Our Families

I am, appropriately, finishing this post on Family Health History Day (the fourth Thursday in November, formerly known as Thanksgiving in the U.S.). The holidays are traditionally a time to get together with family, and what better time to focus on the importance of the health history? In this spirit, I thought we could focus on how a discussion …


  • By Cynthia Rigali Lund
  • Posted December 1, 2016

Despite Cancer, Holiday Abundance Awaits

Editor's Note: This is a continuation of Cynthia's initial experience of being diagnosed with hereditary ovarian cancer in 2012, which she began to tell us in her post from September 29, 2016.   With an October diagnosis, the holiday season was going to be a new experience for our family of five. Although difficult in many ways, …


  • By Georgia Hurst
  • Posted November 24, 2016

Collecting Your Family’s Medical History During the Holidays

Today is Thanksgiving in the U.S., and many of you will be spending a lot of time with your family – this is a stellar time to discuss collecting your family’s medical history. Multiple generations are usually present at holiday gatherings and the elders can be great sources of information about your family’s medical history. Recognizing …


  • By Emily Dalton, MS, CGC
  • Posted November 17, 2016

Why Family History Matters in Genetic Diagnosis

Editor’s Note: We are re-posting this entry by Emily Dalton, a certified genetic counselor, as National Family History Day approaches next week. Check back here to get tips from a patient advocate about collecting your family’s medical history.  We’ve all heard that genetics plays a big role in the development of cancer, including …


  • By David Dubin
  • Posted November 3, 2016

Just Call Me “Above Average Dave”

“Superhero.” Has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it? Flattering, obviously. As someone who has survived multiple cancers, still plays and coaches soccer, had his colonoscopy footage used on national television, and does a lot of public work, I’ve been given a few titles. One of them is superhero. Thanks. But I worry that people, especially …


  • By Eve Mart
  • Posted October 13, 2016

Metastatic Breast Cancer- A Lack of Awareness and The Hurt it Causes

Editor’s Note: In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we are re-posting Eve Mart's piece on metastatic breast cancer to share her perspective as a patient advocate. It complements last week's post by an experienced medical specialist on the same topic. Please share to help spread awareness during this special month. During …


  • By Tiana Adams, PA-C, MBA
  • Posted October 6, 2016

Metastatic Breast Cancer: More Common Than You Think

Editor’s Note: In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we asked a Physician Assistant with years of experience in the field to tell us about a little-known form of breast cancer from the healthcare provider’s perspective. Next week’s post will focus on this issue from the patient advocate’s side of things. Please share to help …


  • By Deepti Babu, MS, CGC
  • Posted August 17, 2016

The Buddy System: It works for Hereditary Cancer, Too

We’ve covered a lot of territory with this blog, so thank you for coming on the ride with us. Theresa Smith talked about her experience of sharing her genetic test results with her family, and we offered a genetic counselor’s perspective on the same idea. This time, we’re focusing more on you – we’re exploring the idea of building …


  • By Bill Rotter
  • Posted August 16, 2016

Attending Breast Cancer Symposiums, Conferences and Research and Advocacy Seminars will Help Keep You in the Forefront Of Your Cancer

Soon after completing all of my treatment for male breast cancer I knew I was determined to stay on top of my cancer going forward.  I know there are many advancements in finding cures for all types of cancers and I am committed to learning everything possible about my cancer diagnosis.   Whether it happens to be in the area of new drugs …


  • By Aaron Schmidt
  • Posted August 11, 2016

How Can You Use Social Media

Today, thanks to hectic work schedules and other increasing demands on everyone’s time, we are turning to social media for human interaction outside of the workplace. In turn, social media has become an important place for many to find others they can bond with over shared interests and experiences. As blogger Eve Mart pointed out earlier this …


  • By Eve Mart
  • Posted August 9, 2016

Why Social Media Is Important For People With Breast Cancer

I’ll be the first to admit, I don’t read many blogs or follow people’s cancer experiences on social media, but I do see the value in them. Networks built around cancer – whether through Facebook, Twitter, blogs or hosted communities – have a particularly active presence in healthcare social media. During the past few years, through Facebook, …


  • By Michelle Jackson
  • Posted August 4, 2016

And Now, A Little Something For the Men Facing Hereditary Cancer

As a female genetic counselor, I can say I have counseled many men regarding their risk for hereditary cancer.  I have seen the different reactions and responses they have had. I have looked for different information (from what I provided to females) to give to them, if it will help. I cannot say I have any idea what it is like to be a man …


  • By Carin Espenschied
  • Posted August 3, 2016

How Laws Protect Genetic Information

There are many different things to consider when deciding whether to have genetic testing.  In addition to the impact of the test results on your physical and emotional health and that of your family members (more on that here), you should also consider your insurance coverage and the possibility of discrimination. When I met with patients …


  • By Eve Mart
  • Posted July 19, 2016

Relearning to Balance

After cancer treatment, I was so relieved to be finished with the demands of treatment and ready to put the experience behind me. Ironically, I found myself feeling uncertain with what my future held. I was so fixated on a magic number… five years. In my mind, if I could just get five years out from treatment, I would be magically cured and the …


  • By Tiana Adams, PA-C, MBA
  • Posted July 7, 2016

You Need to Know These: Signs and Symptoms of Breast Cancer

My name is Tiana Adams, and I am a practicing Physician Assistant with 18 years of clinical experience. During this time I have worked in many specialties, including Family Practice, Urgent Care, Occupational Medicine, Orthopedics and Breast Cancer Surgery. Currently, I am the Oncology Operations Specialist at Ambry. Moving into this role is …


  • By Dr. Dennis J Ahnen
  • Posted July 6, 2016

Colonoscopy: What to Expect, Plus a Few Tips

Colonoscopy is central to the care plan for families with hereditary colorectal cancer (CRC) syndromes, as Georgia Hurst mentioned in her earlier post. Colonoscopic screening is the major means for prevention and early detection of CRC in this setting. It is worth highlighting what you can and should expect when getting a colonoscopy.   It …


  • By Deepti Babu, MS, CGC
  • Posted June 30, 2016

What Healthcare Providers Learn from Their Patients

When you go to an appointment with your healthcare provider, what do you expect? Information. Discussion. Compassion. Maybe a plan. And for good measure, a joke or two? That’s what I expect, anyway, when things are going well. That combination definitely shifts if things aren’t going well with my health. Then I expect to learn facts, offered …


  • By Eve Mart
  • Posted June 28, 2016

What did Cancer Teach Me?

It might seem difficult to comprehend, but I think cancer taught me a number of profound life lessons that few people realize until it’s too late. I don’t think I stand alone in that thought. In the face of breast cancer, I’ve seen many women show remarkable strength and do things even they never thought they could do. “You never know …


  • By Carin Espenschied
  • Posted June 22, 2016

Decisions, Decisions: What To Consider When Deciding On Risk Reducing Surgery

If you have been diagnosed with an inherited colorectal cancer syndrome, your healthcare provider may have recommended that you consider having risk reducing surgery. Risk reducing colectomy is the removal of part (partial colectomy) or all (total colectomy) of the colon to reduce the risk of developing future cancer.  Risk reducing hysterectomy …


  • By Carin Espenschied
  • Posted June 8, 2016

What Happens When I Get My Test Results

Learning the results of genetic testing can be a stressful experience for some, but it also has the potential to be empowering.  If you are waiting for your genetic test results to come back or are considering having genetic testing in the future, hopefully the information in this blog will ease some of the concern you may be experiencing. …


  • By Georgia Hurst
  • Posted June 6, 2016

The Importance of Genetic Counseling With Genetic Testing

As I sit in the hereditary cancer trenches, I see the negative effects of genetic testing sans certified genetic counseling every single day – and it is an enormous problem. Many of the fears and concerns that people discuss with me could be addressed and ameliorated simply if they spoke with a certified genetic counselor before …


  • By Jessica Profato
  • Posted June 2, 2016

How We Can Increase Awareness Of Male Breast Cancer

It has been mentioned in previous posts that there is limited awareness about the fact that men can get breast cancer, and that this limits the options men have for support. It only makes sense for us to consider how we in the medical community, as well as society in general, can do a better job of this – raising the profile for male breast …


  • By Eve Mart
  • Posted May 24, 2016

Resiliency Is The Key To Life

I was diagnosed with breast cancer at a relatively young age. I had just turned 35 years old. I went to the gym every day and was seemingly healthy and fit, and now I had been diagnosed with breast cancer. What was I going to do? I never considered myself a vain person until faced with decisions that would mean losing my hair and my breasts, …


  • By Kory Jasperson, MS,CGC
  • Posted May 18, 2016

How Expert Care Teams Can Help You

My name is Kory Jasperson. If you asked my friends or family to tell you something about me, they’d probably tell you I’m an adrenaline junkie. They all know how much I love jumping out of perfectly good airplanes, off the tops of buildings, and even off the peaks of mountains or cliffs. Although some of my colleagues may reiterate the …


  • By Carin Espenschied
  • Posted May 16, 2016

Adding Gastrointestinal Cancer Topics to our Blog

My name is Carin and I’m a genetic counselor at Ambry Genetics. I’ve been working at Ambry for about 2½ years and before that I worked as a clinical genetic counselor seeing patients at a cancer hospital for over six years. I have always had a special interest in hereditary gastrointestinal (GI) cancers. Gastrointestinal cancers, …


  • By Dr. Robina Smith
  • Posted May 12, 2016

Breast Cancer is Not Always Pink

Did you know that the third week in October is Male Breast Cancer Week and the male breast cancer ribbon is pink and blue? Most people do not, just as most are surprised to learn that men can even have breast cancer. Unlike female breast cancer, male breast cancer (MBC) is rare, accounting for about 1% of all cancers diagnosed in men. For men …


  • By Bill Rotter
  • Posted May 10, 2016

My Doctor Ordered a Mammogram...But I'm A Guy

In my opinion, every guy should have the experience of having a mammogram at a women’s clinic… never. When I think back in my lifetime to all the uncomfortable experiences I have encountered, few can rival walking into a clinic designed for women to have a mammogram. From the moment I walked in, I knew this would be a life-altering series …


  • By Georgia Hurst
  • Posted May 9, 2016

No Mud, No Lotus

Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh believes if people face and embrace their suffering, they will eventually grow from it and possibly turn it into something beautiful and meaningful... Hence the phrase: No mud, no lotus. Five years ago after I was diagnosed with Lynch syndrome, I found myself mired in mud – I had no idea what would emerge …


  • By Eve Mart
  • Posted May 5, 2016

Fear of Recurrence and Mortality

I would imagine it’s normal to face some degree of depression, anxiety, and fear when cancer becomes a part of your life. I have always felt lucky that my cancer was caught early enough that the doctors were able to get it all out with my surgery and 8 chemotherapy treatments. I continued to undergo ovarian cancer screening until having …


  • By Eve Mart
  • Posted May 3, 2016

Personal Impact of Peer Support

As a breast cancer survivor I think I experience a bit of Survivor Guilt. I occasionally wonder, “Why me and not them?” Or rather, why hasn’t this disease been eradicated yet and why aren’t we ALL survivors?  It hurts me to the core to know that I will lose more friends and possibly even my mother to the same disease that I have been …


  • By Theresa Smith
  • Posted April 28, 2016

What About The Men? Time For Us To " Man Up"

For a woman being diagnosed with a BRCA2 gene mutation, there is a ton of information specific to cancers for women, but what if you are a man? The amount regarding male breast cancer, hereditary prostate cancer, and hereditary pancreatic cancer is limited. In addition, public awareness about these conditions is limited. Considering …


  • By Bill Rotter
  • Posted April 26, 2016

Sharing My Diagnosis and Genetic Testing With Family and Friends

While it’s difficult for anyone to come to grips with a cancer diagnosis, it becomes more challenging having to share the news with family and friends. Especially when you are a man telling them you have breast cancer. People may look at you with a deer in the headlights stare….men get breast cancer? This was the reaction from many, as …


  • By Theresa Smith
  • Posted April 22, 2016

Previvor’s Perspective – A Daughter’s Feelings

It was a year after I had tested positive for the BRCA2 gene mutation before I found out about the status of my three children. My oldest, my son, and my youngest daughter were both negative (huge relief). My middle daughter, Jenna, unfortunately tested positive for the same mutation I have. She is 23 years old now and is graduating …


  • By Eve Mart
  • Posted April 19, 2016

Ride Marshaling at YSC Tour de Pink South

As I said in my last post: ”Breast cancer survivors share a connection, and I’ve come to learn that in some unconscious way by helping others, I’m helping myself to heal and spin a positive out of something that was negative.” This past weekend, I had the honor of ride marshaling at the Young Survival Coalition’s (YSC’s) inaugural Tour …


  • By Theresa Smith
  • Posted April 7, 2016

What Can I Do Until My Children Can Be Tested?

Dealing with your own BRCA1 or BRCA2 genetic testing results is one thing, but worrying about testing for your children is another. Especially when they are under 18 years old. There is a very real possibility that people will have to wait for years for their kids to find out if they are positive or negative for the mutation. There …


  • By Jessica Profato
  • Posted April 5, 2016

When should my children be tested for hereditary cancer?

When I was a clinical genetic counselor, each patient that I met with for genetic counseling had some different questions about how their positive genetic test results could impact their care or that of their family members. A common theme among patients who had children was that they wanted to know if, when, and how their children should …


  • By Jessica Profato
  • Posted March 31, 2016

Patient Advocacy Groups: How Can They Help?

In several of our posts, the importance of support throughout one’s cancer journey has been discussed. Eve Mart has discussed how she received support from friends and family following her diagnosis of breast cancer, as well as her experience providing support to others. We’ve also offered thoughts from a healthcare provider’s perspective, …


  • By Eve Mart
  • Posted March 29, 2016

Peer Support

I hadn’t set out to be the “go-to-girl” for all things breast cancer, but when you’re faced with a challenge and come out on the other side fairing pretty well, I think people trust you. Maybe they’re just looking for positive support wherever they can, when they find themselves in a similarly difficult spot. It starts with a phone …


  • By Theresa Smith
  • Posted March 22, 2016

Hang on a Minute, Let’s Think This Through

After testing positive for a mutation in my BRCA2 gene, I was on high alert. I rushed to all my doctor’s appointments and gathered a lot of information regarding preventive surgery options. I also did a lot of research on the statistics and newer medical studies regarding BRCA1 and BRCA2. I evaluated everything based …


  • By Eve Mart
  • Posted March 15, 2016

Supporting Friends and Family through their Cancer Journey

I’m not sure which is more painful, fighting your own cancer battle or supporting a loved one through it. I’ve been on both sides of the fence and still cannot answer that question. Support for me came in a variety of forms and in varying degrees from virtual strangers on internet message boards, acquaintances, co-workers, friends, and family. …


  • By Deepti Babu, MS, CGC
  • Posted March 10, 2016

It's Complicated: Sharing Your Genetic Test Results (Original)

I feel funny writing about sharing genetic test results when I’ve never done it myself, but don’t let that stop you from reading… I’ll draw upon my years in the clinic as a genetic counselor, speaking to many families about this topic, and offer thoughts from my side of the table. I have seen that it’s complicated for some families, …


  • By Jessica Profato
  • Posted March 3, 2016

I survived cancer, so why do I need genetic testing for it?

As As a clinical genetic counselor, I saw many cancer survivors for genetic counseling. In some cases, it had been 30-40 years since they were diagnosed. Some of them were in their 60s-70s when I saw them, but they were young at the time of their cancer diagnosis. Years later, they were referred to me to talk about the possibility that their …


  • By Eve Mart
  • Posted March 1, 2016

Being a Survivor Doesn’t Mean You Can Ignore Me

My mom was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 1989, when breast cancer was still whispered about and long before Angelina Jolie put genetic testing on the Hollywood map. My mom complied with the treatment recommended for her at the time, which included a lumpectomy, chemotherapy and radiation. Eighteen years later, in 2007, I was 34 years old …


  • By Theresa Smith
  • Posted February 23, 2016

What about my “foobies” surgery?

I did finally come to terms with my decision to have a preventive bilateral mastectomy to lower my risk of breast cancer from my BRCA2 gene mutation. I was scheduled with my surgeon, but I was put on a rolling schedule, which meant my date was not set in stone. I asked at what point I got to keep my surgery date, instead of my date being …


  • By Dr. Robina Smith
  • Posted February 18, 2016

Following Positive/High Risk Patients and Survivors

According to the National Cancer Institute SEER (Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results) stat fact sheet on female breast cancer there were an estimated 12.3% of women living with breast cancer in the United States in 2012. 98.6% of breast cancer survivors diagnosed with early stage breast cancer are alive after 5 years or more. As early …


  • By Eve Mart
  • Posted February 16, 2016

Treatment to Survivor

Being a breast cancer survivor isn’t a static label. For me, being a breast cancer survivor has added another layer to the person I am and have become, and that has been an evolutionary process. It took time to get my energy back, but I now happily maintain a very active lifestyle. Again, it took time, and patience was not my strong suit.  …


  • By Dr. Robina Smith
  • Posted February 11, 2016

What to Expect from Surgery and Recovery

Whether a woman is facing the decision to have breast surgery as a treatment option for cancer or she is being proactive and having a preventive procedure done to reduce the risk of ever having cancer, the decision is not an easy one. Surgery can be a frightening experience for some people, and rightfully so. Although surgery is designed to physically …


  • By Theresa Smith
  • Posted February 9, 2016

So I am supposed to chop off my breasts?

When I was offered the option of having a preventive bilateral mastectomy, it was so overwhelming. I couldn’t think about. I couldn’t talk about it with anyone. I didn’t research the procedure. I just put off thinking about it entirely. I couldn’t handle it emotionally, and the thought of what it would do to me physically was very scary …


  • By Jessica Profato
  • Posted February 4, 2016

Coping with Cancer: 5 Lessons from my Patients

As a clinical genetic counselor, a big part of my job was educating my patients about the basics of genetics and hereditarycancer. Another equally, if not more, important part of my job was to talk to them about how a diagnosis of cancer, a positive genetic test result, or a combination of the two was impacting their life and those of their …


  • By Eve Mart
  • Posted February 2, 2016

Healthy Habits, Healthy Mind

The funny thing about ‘healthy habits’ is that you can do everything ‘right’, but there are no guarantees in life. For me, breast cancer is hereditary. he·red·i·tar·y Something (like a health problem, like cancer) that is due to inherited genetic changes (mutations), which can be passed from parent to child.  I have a BRCA1 gene …


  • By Dr. Robina Smith
  • Posted January 28, 2016

Preventive Oncology

To this date, we cannot totally prevent cancer from forming; however, for certain cancers we can reduce the risk of it developing. Approximately one half of cancer cases can be prevented by modifying risk factors or by early detection of precancerous lesions. For breast and ovarian cancers, approximately 10% will develop due to hereditary predisposition. …


  • By Deepti Babu, MS, CGC
  • Posted January 21, 2016

Advocacy groups: I got more out of it than they did

Several years ago when I was a new genetic counselor, doe-eyed and fresh out of grad school, I made sure certain topics came up in every session I had with a family. I covered the facts: the family history I’d collected, a review of genetic patterns, and any genetic testing options the family needed to consider. I’d usually write down …