November 2007 – Get Comfortable in Your Own Genes
Jeff Young | San Francisco, CA | Diagnosed at 32 | Survivor since 2003
Marcy Brown | Muskegon, MI | Diagnosed at 13 | Survivor since 1996
Marcy Brown and Jeff Young were decades apart in age when they were diagnosed, but both got a quick lesson in genetics after colorectal cancer entered their lives.
By the time she started high school, Marcy was already a two-time cancer survivor. She had been diagnosed with liver cancer at four, and at 13 was diagnosed with familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP), a genetic disorder that causes hundreds or thousands of polyps in the colon. Marcy’s polyps had already become cancerous and, like most people with FAP, she had her colon removed to prevent more cancer from developing. She and her dad, who also has FAP, had surgery just weeks apart.
Although Jeff’s only symptom was severe abdominal pain, he was soon diagnosed with stage II colon cancer. He had surgery and chemotherapy, and his doctors insisted on extensive genetic testing. Jeff was diagnosed with hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer (HNPCC) with a mutation of the MLH1 gene, which doctors found that he had inherited from his father. Since his diagnosis, he and his dad both adhere to a strict screening regimen for HNPCC-related cancers.
Marcy and Jeff have always been comfortable with who they are, and now that includes getting comfortable in their own genes.