Founded through a transformative gift from Penn alumni Mindy and Jon Gray in 2012, the Basser Center for BRCA at Penn Medicine’s Abramson Cancer Center is the first comprehensive center for the research, treatment, and prevention of BRCA-related cancers.
Men and women with inherited gene mutations in either BRCA1 or BRCA2 are at heightened risk for developing certain cancers, including breast, ovarian, prostate, pancreatic and melanoma.
The Center is a global leader in funding research, education and care for individuals and families living with BRCA mutations—but much more is needed to win the battle against hereditary cancers.
Enter the Basser Center Young Leadership Council (YLC). Created as a forum for young people to become more engaged with the mission of the Basser Center, the YLC boasts 90 members in 22 states and two countries. The group, which has raised over $100,000 for young investigators at the Center in just two short years, hosts events to raise funds, spread their message, and support one another.
Their most recent event, sponsored by law firm Morgan Lewis and held at their Philadelphia headquarters, featured a panel on navigating relationships, first dates, and other aspects of pairing up before and after surgery.
The discussion was moderated by Lindsay Goldblatt, a YLC Member and second-year medical student at Temple University. She was joined by Erika Stallings, an attorney and founding co-chair of the YLC; Danielle McKenna, certified genetic counselor at the Basser Center for BRCA; and Lindsey Hoskins, a couple and family therapist in Washington D.C.
The group, two of whom are BRCA mutation carriers themselves, shared how their diagnoses affected their relationships and self-images. They revealed their fears—everything from losing their hair to having to tell their loved ones that they might develop cancer.
“The decision to remove your ovaries is made more difficult for young women due to the fears of early menopause and loss of fertility,” says Danielle, who counsels patients through her work at the Basser Center. “In addition to that, measures to preserve one’s fertility are often pricey and not typically covered by insurance.”
As with anything that can potentially affect fertility and sexuality, an individual’s BRCA journey is deeply personal. Those who have risk factors for a BRCA mutation are urged to contact the Basser Center for BRCA, which provides genetic testing, counseling, and resources to assist patients through every part of the process.
A gift to the Basser Center supports pioneering research at Penn and around the world, enhancement of critical outreach and educational programs, and essential resources for individuals and families with BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations.