Passing on a Legacy of Health: Ben Huebsch Shares His BRCA Story for Men’s Health Week

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Ben Huebsch was inspired to become an educator because of his mother’s advice to give back to his community. He loves his job as a middle school principal: he gets a front-row seat to the impact a dedicated staff can have on young lives! He is continuing his mother’s legacy by sharing his firsthand experience with BRCA testing for Men’s Health Week.

After Ben’s mother, maternal aunt and maternal grandmother died of breast cancer, all before the age of fifty, he and his sisters thought it was important to find out if they were also carriers of the BRCA gene. (You can read his sister Emily’s story of previvorship here

Ben’s test showed that he was a carrier of a BRCA1 genetic mutation, which increases the risk for men to develop certain cancers, including prostate, pancreatic, and even breast cancers. Screening for cancers prostate-specific antigen (PSA) may catch the presence of prostate cancer early and increase treatment options. 

Having a positive test result heightened Ben’s awareness of making proactive health choices. In addition to driving his motivation to stay healthy through diet and exercise, he and his primary care provider discussed the importance of annual physicals and proactive screening. He also focuses on the foundation of a healthy lifestyle for his four children to ensure they are making good choices for their long-term health.

In addition to his annual screenings, Ben was recently accepted into an NIH study for BRCA males in relation to prostate cancer. The study is designed to determine the earliest and least intrusively obtained signs of prostate cancer. As a participant in the study, he will receive biannual screening through PSA blood testing and an MRI. He hopes for normal results on these screenings, but frequent screenings have the possibility to catch any signs of cancer early, and he is pleased to be a part of the medical progress that may result. 

There are many campaigns for women regarding BRCA 1/2 and the recommended screenings for breast and ovarian cancer. Men should be just as aware of their family history and possible increased risks of cancer due to hereditary genetic mutations. Ben’s advice: “Be proactive. Do not wait for your health to happen to you. Instead take control of your health while you are healthy by learning what factors have been passed onto you and what you can do to mitigate risks to your longevity.”

Along with Men’s Health Week, Ambry is celebrating the tenth anniversary of the Supreme Court ruling that genes cannot be patented. Ben was tested for BRCA 1/2 two months prior to that ruling. Looking back, he recalls that at the time, the greatest barrier was knowing where to go and what to ask. A family friend who worked in the medical field helped him navigate the process by first connecting him with a primary care provider to order the testing and alter a genetic counselor to interpret the results. Testing is more prevalent today, meaning most medical providers in clinics and hospitals can guide patients through a similar process without as much searching or the need for referrals and patient advocacy. The cost of testing at the time would have been a deterrent for many patients, and the significantly reduced cost of testing today allows those with a relevant family history to receive testing through insurance at little to no cost.

Ben says, “One of my greatest motivators is impact, and as I approach the age my mom was when she passed, I often think about the impact she could have had if she had the information in advance of her diagnosis. They say, ‘knowledge is power,’ and I feel that my knowledge of being a BCRA1 carrier has empowered me to make health decisions that will allow me to impact my family and my community for decades to come.” 

About Ben Huebsch

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Ben Huebsch is a husband, father of four and middle school principal in suburban Iowa. In his free time, he enjoys taking walks with his wife Kelsey and attending his kids’ activities.

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