Monday, June 28, 2010

Dr. Gordon in Action

 On Saturday afternoon at the Joining FORCEs convention a packed room came to hear Dr. Ora Gordon, from Cedar-Sinai Health Center in Los Angeles, and Dr. Karen Hurley from Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York, speak about making decisions about managing hereditary risk for breast and ovarian cancer.  Many had brought along a copy of Positive Results and others said that their copies at home have been highlighted and marked with post-it notes.  All wanted to meet Dr. Gordon and see her in action.  Although I have not seen the surveys rating the speakers, I suspect none were disappointed.

Dr. Gordon has a friendly and clear way of sorting through the complex data that is risk analysis for high-risk women.  But beyond sorting through the maze of complex numbers, she discussed a recently published study she has done focusing on why high-risk women make decisions about surveillance and surgery.  Her study shows that beyond understanding the numbers, and we all strive to do that, the single most important factor leading a woman to choose prophylactic mastectomies is having a mother who has had breast cancer.  It seems that the decision to undergo preventive surgery is, at its heart, as much an emotional one as an analytical one.

This emotional journey toward decision-making is Dr. Hurley’s specialty and she spoke to us about the emotional journey of making decisions about chemoprevention, surveillance and surgery options.  She helped us understand the basis of good decisions and when and how to seek help.  She helped us understand how to engage our internal and external support networks and how to filter the well-meaning but perhaps unhelpful input from family and friends.

Thank you Dr. Gordon and Dr. Hurley for all you do to help our community.

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