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Like actress Angelina Jolie, Merritt Island resident Cherisa Lawerence opted
for double mastectomy and reconstructive surgery after testing positive for
the BRCA mutation, which has led to many women’s cancer diagnoses.
At Health First, genetic counselor Delori Dulany plays an
important role in patients’ journeys with cancer. As an
advanced oncology certified nurse practitioner, Dulany
counsels cancer patients and individuals at risk of the
disease throughout the health care system’s five dedicated
INHERITED CANCER RISK
Genetic testing, easily accomplished through a blood draw or
saliva specimen, is an accurate check for hereditary cancer
syndrome for individuals with a personal or family history
pointing to inherited cancer risk. Usually requested by the
patient’s healthcare provider, these tests provide a powerful
tool: knowledge. Dulany’s counseling assists patients in
making informed decisions from results.
The facts can sometimes be hard to accept. While most
patients appreciate knowing they are at risk of cancer, others
consider it an anvil waiting to fall on their heads.
“Some people consider it a curse,” Dulany said.
In Withrow’s case, the results were a blessing.
“I assumed I was positive from my family history, so finding
out I had a negative result is actually a huge relief for me,”
she said. “I’m still high risk, but it makes me feel I can erase
the check in that box.”
Dulany is quick to tell her patients that even a positive result
is not all negative news.
“Testing positive is not a certainty they will get cancer,”
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