I’ve known cancer from a very early age. My mother passed away from stomach cancer at the age of 41 when I was just seven years old. Cancer lurked in the back of my mind as I grew up. In school, I focused on the biological sciences, perhaps trying to understand my mother’s passing by understanding her disease.
It wasn’t until 2010 that I started to think more about our family history and my own health. As I learned about HDGC, it was as if I was reading my own family’s story. I decided to get genetic testing and found out that I carry a CDH1 mutation in December 2010.
In the midst of all this, I was completing my undergraduate education and applying to scholarships and medical school. The cumulative uncertainty was crippling. The ensuing two years saw numerous life changes– moving abroad and back, deciding to get my surgery done and eventually having my prophylactic gastrectomy in March 2012.
The silver lining in this challenging journey has been the community I have found in No Stomach for Cancer and the connections we have made. The people I’ve met, the stories and experiences we share– they have transformed my life. While I have known for a long time that my life and career will be devoted to medicine and medical research, my experiences with HDGC have led me to my current interests: cancer genetics, the experiences and challenges that young people in particular face with HDGC and the strength of the interactions and connections we have made over our shared experiences. I feel so blessed to be a part of the NSFC family and am honored to be pursuing my interests by promoting its cause.
~ Jennifer Lai