The month of October, National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, serves as an important reminder that this year, an estimated 700,000 people in the U.S. will be diagnosed with breast cancer, of which, up to 10 percent of cases are linked to an inherited gene mutation. With advancements in fertility treatment and genetic testing, couples are now able to reduce the risk of passing along known genetic mutations to their children.
Shady Grove Fertility now offers patients the option to screen for over 280 recessive gene mutations, including diseases such as cystic fibrosis, Tay-Sachs disease, and spinal muscular atrophy. In addition, patients at risk for dominant gene mutations, such as breast cancer or inherited forms of colon cancer, can have individualized testing for these diseases. These tests can identify possible genetic diseases that may be passed on to their child(ren). If a genetic disease is found, the couple has the option to use IVF with preimplantation genetic testing for monogenic/single gene defects (PGT-M) to reduce the risk of passing that mutation onto their child(ren), thereby reducing their risk of disease in the future.
As part of its efforts to educate patients about the value of these interventions, and the availability of fertility preservation prior to any cancer treatment, SGF forged a new partnership with Allyn Rose, a breast cancer previvor, well known women’s health advocate, former Miss USA and Miss America contestant, and full-time model.
“I lost my precious mom, Judy Rose, to breast cancer when I was 16. One of the most challenging things about growing up without a mom is thinking that you’re going to have to face life’s special experiences alone. It’s especially true for a woman,” said Rose. “I understand the difficulties of having to become your own mentor, and I’m passionate about encouraging others to not allow trials in their lives to become negative defining moments, rather, use their adversity as inspiration.”
In addition to losing her mother during her teenage years, Rose also lost her grandmother and great aunt to breast cancer and knew she would want to take any measures to prevent herself and any children from suffering from the disease. As a 24 year old Miss America contestant, Rose made headlines when she made the difficult decision to undergo a prophylactic bilateral mastectomy. In 2018, Rose was selected as a Sports Illustrated Swing Search Finalist and became the first woman with a mastectomy to model for Sports Illustrated.
What Rose also knew was that her own experience gave her the motivation and platform to create a movement that encouraged other women to seek preventive healthcare. She created the #SelfExamGram social media movement, which spreads the message of early breast cancer detection and reminds women to perform monthly self breast exams.
“In the beginning, I was overwhelmed thinking about the entire process. But the team at Shady Grove Fertility, in their best Mom Voice, told me that ‘it was going to be okay’ and that I wasn’t alone.”
“This is an amazing experience to be able to help Allyn and her husband have children. For women like Allyn, genetic testing is a safe and reliable means of reducing the possibility of having children with the genetic mutation a parent or parents may carry. At SGF, we test each embryo for the specific gene mutation and the patient may opt to use the embryos that test negative,” explains Dr. Devine.
Rose is documenting her journey to motherhood with Dr. Devine and SGF in hope that it will lift the veil of the unknown associated with infertility treatment, and also serve as a reminder to women to be their own advocate. “I hope that it will ‘pay it forward’ to other women going through this and help them realize that they aren’t alone either.”
While Rose is cancer-free, SGF has a specially trained team that works specifically with people with cancer to ensure the fertility preservation process before cancer treatment can be expedited in order that cancer treatment can quickly begin. The oncofertility team at SGF helps to guide patients through each step of the treatment process, from finding ways to afford treatment to the actual medical procedure.
If you would like to learn more about SGF’s oncofertility treatment options or to schedule an appointment, please call the New Patient Center at 888-971-7755 or complete this brief online form.