Disclaimer: The names of all the interview participants have been changed to protect their privacy.
It’s not every day that you see an entire household willingly agree to go through genetic testing as a family. But that’s exactly what happened with the Tan family. In this patient feature, we’ll be sharing Jane’s experience with appendix cancer and how her diagnosis acted as a catalyst for her entire family to seek guidance through genetic counselling.
Navigating Their Loved One’s Initial Diagnosis
Watching a beloved family member live with cancer or receive a cancer diagnosis is never easy. In the case of the Tan Family, it was Jane who was diagnosed with Stage 4 Appendix Cancer in late 2020. This came as an absolute shock for everyone near and dear to her as there were very few indicators that she was already living with the disease.
On top of that, the family discovered that she was also a carrier of the recessive Fanconi Anaemia Gene while undergoing treatment, which could increase one’s cancer risk.
This encouraged sisters Rachel and Hui Min to proceed with genetic testing as well to assess whether they were carriers of the same gene.
Genetic Counselling: A Personal & Hands-On Experience
Going into genetic counselling felt like a natural next step for Rachel and Hui Min. They knew that it was essential and wise to undergo the necessary tests to detect any potential risks within the family at an earlier stage. Both sisters described their experience with their respective counsellors to be simple, informative, and unintimidating—just like how it should be.
Hui Min expressed how it felt slightly nerve-wracking for her, but also how it was completely normal at the same time.
“Tharisini was our genetic counsellor and she was very patient in explaining the entire process. From understanding our family history, what having the recessive Fanconi anaemia gene means, and the next steps”. — Hui Min on her genetic counselling experience
At first, the idea of getting tested to understand your cancer risk and genetic status can be overwhelming. From all the different stages to the jargon and technical term—you name it. It is our job as counsellors to walk you through your results in a way that you and your family can easily understand.
“It was initially scary but the counsellor made us feel at ease by explaining what the results meant for us in simple terms that were not daunting”. —Rachel on her genetic counselling experience
The Outcome: Being a Recessive Gene Carrier
After the entire testing process, it was revealed that both sisters were also carriers of the Fanconi gene that Jane had. While most people would usually be alarmed or distraught by the outcome, the sisters’ experience said otherwise.
Hui Min shared, “I wasn’t too surprised that we carried the gene. I’ve seen testimonials online about other forms of genetic testing and how it was quite an impersonal experience. But that wasn’t the case for Curie Genetics”.
Genetic counsellors don’t stop at conducting the necessary tests for you. We are here to guide you from start to finish; from the initial consultation, delivering the results, creating a suitable treatment plan, and explaining the nature and significance of being a recessive gene carrier.
Through their experience, the sisters knew they had to do the same process with the rest of their family.
On Having the Family Onboard
It’s completely normal for individuals to experience feelings of doubt and fear. But since this was a family decision, the Tan family had no difficulties in convincing one another. Sometimes, undergoing something as complex and extensive as genetic testing as a family might just be the push you need to get started.
“Doing it as a family ensured that we were all tested and would eventually be more cautious of the way we live our lives once the results are out”, Rachel explains.
The Tan Family’s View on Genetic Testing
It’s true what they say; prevention is always better than cure. Most families or individuals are held back by potentially receiving positive results after their tests. However, finding out about any potential genetic disorders and understanding your cancer risk gives people the opportunity and time to plan the next steps of their care plan.
Just as Rachel shared, “it’s not that scary”.
Take charge of your health with Curie Genetics
With the developments in genetic testing combined with patients’ testimonials, this procedure gives patients the unique opportunity to be well-informed about any genetic predispositions that we need to know of.
The moment you decide to undergo genetic testing, you are taking charge of your own health and taking the first step towards a better future for yourself and your family. And that’s something to take pride in.
We may not be able to change the way our genes are formed, but what we can do is change our lifestyle choices that could help detect cancer at an early stage.
Get in touch with us at 6259 5538 and let us help you start your journey today.