When genetic testing revealed that Erika Stallings was a carrier of the BRCA2 gene mutation, which confers an increased risk of breast and ovarian cancer, she searched the internet for stories by other women of color with the same diagnosis. However, she found very few stories online. Ms. Stallings shared her story as part of the virtual Close the Gap Conference produced by SurvivorNet, in collaboration with NYU Langone Health’s Perlmutter Cancer Center.
Ms. Stallings, who ultimately chose to have a preventive double mastectomy at Perlmutter Cancer Center, now advocates for genetic testing for women of color. She is partnering with oncologists and genetic counselors at Perlmutter Cancer Center to engage with the African American community and initiate conversations about genetic testing.
“It sort of just starts a dialogue in that community,” Ms. Stallings says. “You get people thinking about, oh, I have a mom who had cancer and a grandmother and an aunt… Maybe I am someone who should get referred to genetic counseling.”
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