How Expert Care Teams Can Help You - Repost

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Editor’s Note: In recognition of National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, we are re-posting this piece by an Ambry genetic counselor. His many years of clinical experience working with families affected by hereditary colorectal cancer helped him understand the importance of expert care teams, and how they 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 same thing, I’d hope that most would highlight the work I’ve done for over a decade as a genetic counselor.

Prior to joining Ambry in 2015, I worked in a hospital setting helping families with hereditary cancer syndromes navigate their way through the complex issues they often face. I’ve always had a special interest in hereditary gastrointestinal (GI) cancer syndromes, which have been a major focus of my research, advocacy efforts, and clinical work. I’ve had the pleasure of working at two large cancer centers, Huntsman Cancer Institute and the City of Hope Comprehensive Cancer Center. Both are known for having expert hereditary cancer care teams. Although there isn’t one definition of what makes up expert care teams, they often include dedicated medical professionals with expertise in various hereditary cancer syndromes. An expert care team for hereditary colorectal cancer may include specialists in genetics and genetic counseling, gastroenterology, gynecology, surgery, and oncology to name a few. Some of these teams may also conduct clinical trials or other research studies involving hereditary GI cancer syndromes.

As Travis Bray mentioned in his earlier post, seeing an expert care team was a turning point for him. There are number of reasons why seeing an expert care team may be beneficial, but for Travis it allowed him the opportunity to “relax.” Why? Not only did he feel like his medical care team finally understood the issues he was facing, but they also had the skills to do something about them.

I have heard from many patients over the years that they feel frustrated, alone, or even hopeless because none of their healthcare providers have ever heard of the hereditary condition they have. Even if they have, they may not know what to do next. After seeing an expert care team, many patients are pleasantly surprised by how much these professionals know about their rare condition and how instrumental these teams can be in improving their quality of life.

The Hereditary Colorectal Cancer Foundation has a list of expert care teams across the U.S. that focus on hereditary GI syndromes, which you can find here. You can also find a genetic counselor near you in the U.S. or Canada by visiting the website for the National Society of Genetic Counselors or the Canadian Association of Genetic Counsellors

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