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“When I was 10 years old, my father passed away from cancer,” says Brandy Reid of Sunbury. After learning that her grandfather and grandmother had both died from cancer, and two of her aunts had cancer as well, Brandy noticed a trend. 

“Naturally this would worry anyone, right?”

Wanting to learn more, when she was 18 Brandy went to the doctor and asked about cancer screenings, but everyone told her she was too young to worry—even with many family members dying young. 

Geisinger’s MyCode detects Lynch syndrome

Three years ago, Brandy learned about Geisinger’s MyCode Community Health Initiative while visiting her Geisinger family physician, Dr. Margaret Still. MyCode analyzes the DNA of patient-participants who sign up. Only about 2% of people will have a genetic change that puts them at a higher risk for diseases, and MyCode can detect that.

“When I learned about MyCode and what it could do, it was a no-brainer. I had to sign up,” says Brandy.

One simple blood draw and Brandy’s DNA was on its way to be studied. One year later, she received a letter from the MyCode program.

Brandy learned she had Lynch syndrome, a genetic change that causes an increased risk of developing certain cancers that are passed through a family. “I scheduled my first meeting with a genetic counselor, and I got answers to the questions I always had,” says Brandy.

“As she’s listing all the cancers I was at an increased risk of getting, I was thinking, ‘my dad had that, my pop had that, my aunt had that.’ Everything was connected. My family wasn’t doomed! It was a genetic mutation and now I can have early screenings for all of these cancers.” 

With appropriate screening and management, many cancers can be prevented or detected at an early, treatable stage.

Stopping cancer in its tracks

Brandy’s care team immediately provided recommendations for preventative health, including the suggestion of a hysterectomy because of the increased risk for uterine and ovarian cancer. “I was only 33 and didn’t have any kids,” Brandy remembers. “Was I ready to make that kind of decision?”

Brandy thought about it for a year, and her choice was not an easy one. She struggled with it. Everyone told her not to have the hysterectomy, but she stopped listening to them. If it was something she could do to prevent passing the gene on to her child, she was willing to do it. 

Brandy scheduled an appointment with gynecologic oncologist Dr. Radhika Gogoi and had standard procedural biopsies performed. 

“One-week later, Dr. Gogoi called to tell me that I had precancerous cells. We were all so happy with my decision to have the hysterectomy.”

Now cancer free, Brandy said she’s living life one day at a time. “I am so glad to be alive. I am so very grateful to Geisinger for doing these studies. Without them knowing of Lynch, testing people and notifying patients of their results, I may not have been so lucky. Please do yourself and your loved ones a favor—get your genes tested for mutations. It could save your life.”

Become a part of the MyCode Community Health Initiative today! Learn more about how you can get involved here.
Brandy Reid, now cancer free thanks to Geisinger’s MyCode Community Health Initiative, sits near a window.