For Women’s Health Awareness Month and Mother’s Day, learn the risks

Invest in your own health and the health of your loved ones through genetic testing.

llustration by PublicDomainPictures via Pixabay.
llustration by PublicDomainPictures via Pixabay.

JScreen, a national nonprofit public health initiative dedicated to preventing genetic diseases and hereditary cancer, stands committed to saving lives through genetic screening and education. As May marks Women’s Health Awareness Month and Mother’s Day, it serves as a pivotal time for prospective mothers to gain insights into their genetic reproductive risks, empowering them to plan ahead for the health of their future children. It is also provides an opportunity for women to explore their own hereditary cancer risks and proactive measures they can adopt to safeguard their own well-being.

Karen Arnovitz Grinzaid, executive director of JScreen and a mother of two, says of JScreen’s core mission: “We are dedicated to helping people have healthy children and maintain their own health so they can be there for their families. Genetic testing is the cornerstone of this endeavor, as it gives people the information they need to be proactive about their own health and that of their future children.”

Rachel Mintz, a Los Angeles-based indie/alternative music singer, songwriter, producer and genetic-screening advocate, shares her personal experience with genetic testing and the impact it has had on her life.

“I have a significant family history of breast cancer. Every woman in four generations on my maternal side has either had breast cancer or has undergone a prophylactic mastectomy. I received a full genetic panel at 28 years old, and began high-risk screening after finding out I was positive for a mutation in the CHEK2 cancer susceptibility gene. Fifteen years later, I have been diagnosed with DCIS stage 0 breast cancer. Thanks to genetic tests and all of the intensive screening I’ve undergone I am now able to make an empowered decision to save my life—something my mom was not able to do.”

Rachel Mintz and her mom. Credit: Courtesy of JScreen.

JScreen provides education and easy access to comprehensive genetic testing for family planning and hereditary cancer risk. People can access JScreen’s ReproGEN and CancerGEN tests from home, and results are provided via the program’s telehealth genetic counseling services.

In a poignant testament to the power of genetic screening, a mother-daughter duo from Atlanta, Karen Shmerling and Michelle Guterman, recount how their lives were impacted by JScreen.

Shmerling says her daughter tested positive for a mutation in the BRCA2 gene, significantly increasing her risk for breast, ovarian and other cancers. Shmerling then underwent testing, revealing that she also carries a BRCA2 mutation. Armed with this knowledge, she opted for a
double mastectomy in 2020, greatly minimizing her risk of developing breast cancer.

Michelle and Karen Shmerling. Credit: Courtesy of JScreen.

Reflecting on her experience, Shmerling expresses the importance of proactive health management. “Genetic testing offers a lifeline for making informed decisions about our health, empowering us to seize control of our futures.”

While she elected to have surgery, Shmerling says other people in this situation may choose vigilant monitoring coupled with tailored preventive strategies to mitigate risks. “By proactively managing our health, we can confront potential health challenges head-on and lead fulfilling lives.”

“We love hearing about the huge impact genetic testing can have on individuals and their families,” says Grinzaid. “As Mother’s Day approaches, we urge everyone to prioritize their own health and that of their loved ones.”

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JScreen is a national nonprofit public health initiative dedicated to preventing genetic diseases. Headquartered in Atlanta at Emory University School of Medicine, the JScreen initiative provides convenient at-home access to cutting-edge genetic testing technology, patient education and genetic counseling services. JScreen believes the combination of education, access to premier gene screening technologies and personalized, confidential support are the keys to preventing these devastating diseases.
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