Advocate Rachel Koszegi is on a mission to fight cancer traceable to genes, and she’s not alone in LA.
The 33-year-old mother who has tested positive for the BRCA2 cancer gene is one of 12 people in her family for over three generations diagnosed with the same cancer.
Now Koszegi is using her family’s genetic history to contribute to cancer research, prevention and treatment, to improve the quality of life for those facing hereditary risk.
“Cancer has always been part of my life,” said Koszegi, owner of Brushed Inc., a professional makeup, hair and wardrobe styling business. “Even though it has always been there, I want to aggressively monitor and protect my health and be my own advocate, and I want the same for my family members.”
Koszegi has enrolled herself along with her cousins in the Gilda Radner Hereditary Cancer Program, part of the Women’s Cancer Program at the Cedars-Sinai Samuel Oschin Comprehensive Cancer Institute.
Founded in 1991, the program studies women at higher risk for breast and ovarian cancer and it is led by Beth Y. Karlan, who says, “Family is an essential part of our program.”
Koszegi traces her family’s history of cancer to her maternal grandfather and his siblings. In all, five of the seven siblings were diagnosed with breast or prostate cancer.
Prostate cancer claimed the life of Koszegi’s grandfather. Two of his daughters – including Koszegi’s mother and aunt – were diagnosed with breast cancer. Her mother died from the disease at 58 and her aunt is in remission.
Of the family’s current generation, six women, including Koszegi, have tested positive for the BRCA2 gene mutation. Koszegi wants to know why the BRCA mutation is so strong in her family. She has undergone a prophylactic mastectomy in July 2014 to cut her risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer and in the future, plans to undergo a prophylactic oophorectomy to decrease her risks of ovarian cancer.
“The decision and process of undergoing prophylactic surgery was tough, but worth it,” said Koszegi.