Mother’s cancer, clinical trial enable daughter to address BRCA1 mutation

When April Schweigert’s mother was diagnosed with breast cancer, and then two years later ovarian cancer, her doctors suspected that this was not a coincidence. “That’s when all the red flags started flying. I remember being in the hospital room and her surgeons were immediately saying, ‘You and your daughter need to be tested for BRCA mutation,’” she says. April and her mother both tested positive for mutations in BRCA1, which significantly increases a person’s risk for breast and ovarian cancers. When she received her results, April absorbed all the information she could on BRCA-positive cancers and devised a strategy on how to proceed. “I’m a researcher and a planner, and fortunately because of my mom, I had the ability to take preventive action,” April notes. Making a plan at MD Anderson to address a BRCA1 mutation Through her planning, one thing became clear: April was not ready to undergo surgical menopause, which involves removal of both ovaries. Uncomfortable with the answers she was getting from doctors in her area, she felt compelled to seek help elsewhere. That’s when she found MD Anderson’s Gynecologic Oncology Center, which offered a unique clinical trial opportunity. The Women Choosing Surgical Prevention (WISP) study, led by Karen Lu, M.D., seeks to understand the impact of delayed ovary removal on quality-of-life and sexual function. This trial was a major factor in April’s decision to come to MD Anderson. “I have a daughter and two sons and if I can give back by helping with this research, maybe there will be better answers for my children and others,” she says. April made the trek from...