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BRCA Genetic Testing for Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer

In today’s New York Times, actress and director Angelina Jolie bravely and openly discusses her experience with BRCA genetic testing for hereditary breast and ovarian cancer:

The 37 year old Ms. Jolie – who has not had cancer – underwent genetic testing because of her family history of cancer. She was found to carry a mutation in the BRCA1 gene, which puts her at significant risk of developing breast and ovarian cancers. Ms. Jolie, the mother of 3 adopted and 3 biological children, elected to undergo a risk-reducing double mastectomy, and plans to have her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed soon to lower her risk of developing ovarian cancer.

Ms. Jolie’s story opens a public conversation about the importance of genetic testing in helping to reduce a woman’s risk of developing breast and ovarian cancers. This very personal decision about mastectomy by someone widely regarded as one of the most beautiful women in the movies also helps women recognize that their body image and sexuality does not have to be defined by their breasts. Not every woman will make the decision to have major surgery, but genetic test results can also make sure that your breast cancer screening is appropriate for your level of risk; women who carry a BRCA gene mutation need ...

iPad Loan Program at the Swedish Cancer Institute

Going through cancer treatment as a patient, family member or caregiver can take a lot of personal time. And we know that being in a hospital environment on a day-to-day basis can be exhausting. Here at the Swedish Cancer Institute (SCI), we aim to provide resources and access to services to help your mind, body and spirit heal.

One way we do this is through using innovative programs that help connect patients and family members to resources within the community. Recently, SCI has launched a new iPad Loan Program that puts interactive and educational resources right at your fingertips.

You can use the iPads while waiting in the lobby or even during treatment to:

Misconceptions & Misunderstandings About Genetic Testing For Hereditary Cancer: My family history of cancer almost guarantees that one day I will develop cancer

Many people who have a family history of cancer often assume that they are at high risk of developing cancer and do not see the value of genetic counseling and genetic testing. The reasoning often goes like this:

“My mother, my cousin, and my grandmother all had breast cancer. I know there is a very high chance that I will develop it too. I would never have a mastectomy, so I am extra good about getting mammograms and my doctor checks my breasts every time I see her. I have a healthy diet, exercise regularly, rarely drink alcohol, and I have never put a cigarette to my lips. Since I am already doing everything I can possibly do, I don’t see how genetic counseling and genetic testing can help me.”

Of course, it is a good idea to be conscientious about your medical care, and everyone should maintain a healthy lifestyle, regardless of family history. The questions that genetic testing may answer for you are:

Gift Basket Programs at the Swedish Cancer Institute

The Swedish Cancer Institute has community partnerships with several local and national organizations that strive to promote education, hope and healing to newly diagnosed patients with cancer. Specifically, two local organizations have partnered with Swedish Cancer Institute in a unique way, offering moments of inspiration and comfort in times of distress. Northwest Hope & Healing and Thrive Through Cancer are two local non-profit organizations focused on offering assistance and support to those newly diagnosed with cancer and aim to empower and connect community members with resources needed to flourish....

Employment Matters: New Workshop Series for Multiple Sclerosis

What do I tell my boss? Will I have to quit? How will I afford my future?

A multiple sclerosis diagnosis can come with a lot of uncertainty and questions about the future. But it does not have to be career-ending. Learning about your employment options and planning ahead can help you make informed decisions about your career.

Beginning May 8, 2013, the Multiple Sclerosis Center at Swedish Neuroscience Institute will offer free workshops to help people navigate their employment options. Employment Matters is a monthly series  designed to prepare people with the knowledge to confidently approach challenges, build a career plan and strengthen their employment options.

Shaheen Virani, CRC, leads the Employment Matters workshops. Shaheen is a rehabilitation counselor who specializes in helping people with MS make plans and decisions to support their individual employment needs--whether it is to continue working, make a career change or apply for disability.

Here are a few Employment Matters topics coming up this spring (or click here for the full 2013 schedule):

Multiple Sclerosis Center Celebrates First Anniversary

One year ago today, the first patients visited the brand new Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Center at Swedish Neuroscience Institute. The 11,700-square-foot facility was designed around the patient experience as part of the MS Center’s commitment to treating the whole person and addressing each patient’s individual emotional, psychological, social and physical needs in a supportive environment.

Since we opened our doors on April 9, 2012, we’ve hit a few new milestones:

  • More than 5,400 total patients, including 620 new faces, from around the world received care from our comprehensive treatment team in the last 12 months.

  • We welcomed three new providers: neurologist Peiqing Qian, M.D.; physical therapist Kim Kobata, PT; and neuro-psychiatrist Lina Fine, M.D., M.Phil.

  • We completed the Pigott Terrace. The 1,500-square-foot outdoor therapy terrace includes a one-of-a-kind system that enables patients to ...

Mindfulness for Childbirth and Parenting

What is mindfulness?

Mindfulness is defined by Nancy Bardacke, author of Mindful Birthing, as "the awareness that arises from paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgementally. It is cultivated through meditation practice and can help you navigate the uncharted waters that lie ahead with more joy, kindness, awareness, calm and wisdom than you might have otherwise. Mindfulness is a universal capacity of the human mind, but unless we intentionally choose to cultivate it, we can spend much of our lives on automatic pilot, sleepwalking through life rather than being fully present for it."

What makes mindfulness helpful for pregnancy? Or parenting?

"Taking the time to learn mindfulness through meditation practice now can help you more skillfully manage the inevitable stresses of pregnancy and the irreducible element of uncertainty of the birthing process. More than that, mindfulness meditation can help you manage the intense sensations of childbirth we usually call pain, increasing your confidence and decreasing the fears that so often accompany this profound journey into the unknown. And mindfulness can help you cultivate lifelong inner skills for healthy living, wise parenting, and loving partnership. " (- Nancy Bardacke)

How do I learn how to meditate to cultivate mindfulness?

The best way to learn is by taking a mindful birthing weekend workshop or 9 week course which are just now becoming available in our area (click here for a flyer about a weekend workshop coming up in March).  Other ways to learn are...

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