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“When I left my first meeting with Miranda, I knew I was going to be fine,” says Matt Farley of State College, about the first time he met his genetic counselor Miranda Hallquist, LGC. “She told me that for a guy my age, there’s not much to do to manage risks associated with the BRCA2 gene.”
Matt joined the MyCode® Community Health Initiative study two years ago. The 29-year-old was approached by a MyCode team member when he was leaving his doctor’s office. “She told me what MyCode was all about and I figured it was harmless, so I did it.” Months went by and Matt didn’t think about it again — until he received a letter with his results in June 2018. “Honestly, when I got the results, it was a bit of a surprise,” he says. “It said I have the BRCA2 gene and described what that means for men.”
Matt made his first appointment with Miranda after getting the letter with his results. “When Matt came in to discuss the BRCA2 genetic variant, he had so many great questions!” Miranda said. “He’s expecting his first child and wanted to know what it means for that little guy’s future. And he had questions about mom, too.”
Soon after Matt’s initial genetic counseling meeting, his mom also scheduled a time to talk with Miranda. “I wanted to know if I was the parent who was carrying the BRCA2 gene,” says Diane Farley. “When we met, Miranda gave me information on the gene and let me know what to expect if I had the positive result.” By September, Diane learned she was BRCA2-positive. “I had made up my mind: If I had the gene, I was going to be aggressive with my options. Miranda referred me to a gynecologic oncologist because there is a great risk of developing ovarian cancer with BRCA2.” Diane had her ovaries and Fallopian tubes removed on Oct. 15. “I am so lucky,” says Diane. “I learned I had an increased risk of ovarian cancer and did something about it.  I’ll never get ovarian cancer now.”
Diane and Matt are grateful. “We got so lucky,” says Matt. “I could have walked right by the MyCode recruiter two years ago and we wouldn’t know any of this information. Genetics and technology are amazing. Miranda is amazing. We need people like her. We need genetic counselors who can explain to people exactly what the risks are of developing diseases based on their DNA. My wife and I are having a baby, due on Christmas day. Knowing about this BRCA2 gene will prevent diseases in his future. And seriously, that’s just incredible. We are living the future of medicine.”
“I gave Matt life,” says Diane, “and he saved mine. I could have developed ovarian cancer and not known about it until it was too late to treat. Now, that’s not going to happen. Miranda has helped so much and she still guides me. I call her and message her through myGeisinger whenever I need help.” Today, Diane is talking with a breast surgeon about the choices she can make. Diane is considering having both breasts removed. “I’d rather prevent the cancer than confront the cancer cells. I have the luxury of options, now that I know I have an increased genetic risk of developing these cancers.”
Matt Farley and Mom MyCode BRCA2 participants