Supporting Friends & Family


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How can I talk to my friends and family about getting tested?

I know someone who is waiting for the results of her BRCA gene test. How long does it take for results to come back? How can I best support her during this time?

My friend tested positive. What should I say? How can I help her?


How can I talk to my friends and family member about getting tested?

Watching In the Family with your friend or family member may be a good way to start a conversation about family health histories. The film brings about many issues related to hereditary cancer, and can illuminate these links with individuals today. It might be beneficial to invite your friend over to watch In the Family with you, and then start a discussion about family health history.

The decision to undergo genetic testing is a very personal and individual decision. Your friend or family member may benefit from a discussion with a genetic counselor which would help outline her options so she is fully informed about the availability of testing, and exactly what type of information a genetic test can and cannot tell her about her risk for cancer. A genetic counselor's primary concern in talking with your friend would be to share information and resources to help your friend reach decisions which are appropriate for her.

To find a genetic counselor in your area, visit
The National Society of Genetic Counselor’s Search Tool:

For more information on Family Health History, visit
My Family Health Portrait
A tool from the U.S. Surgeon General

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I know someone who is waiting for the results of her BRCA gene test. How long does it take for results to come back? How can I best support her during this time?

From the date that blood is drawn, it can take several weeks or months for test results to become available. The length of time depends on the tests performed and other factors. Individuals who decide to get tested should check with their doctor or genetic counselor to find out when test results might be available.

The decision to undergo genetic testing is a very personal and individual decision. Help make sure your friend is getting the support she needs, whether that be through finding support groups (see below), finding information that can help her (visit: http://www.inthefamilyfilm.com) or having fun with your friend to help him/her take their mind off things. Encourage your friend to speak with a genetic counselor.

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My friend tested positive. What should I say? How can I help her?

Allow friends their process. Don’t necessarily try to cheer them up or rush them into a phase where they are happy and grateful for the knowledge. Confronting risk, making decisions, and hopefully eventually finding peace and acceptance can take time. Validate their concerns by listening. Don’t minimize or dismiss their feelings and don’t heighten their concerns by sharing horror stories. Offer to accompany them to doctor’s appointments. Encourage them to take medical questions to their genetic counselor and surround themselves with experts who are trained in risk-management of women who are BRCA positive. And, of course, make sure that they know that they can get peer support and credible information from FORCE and other support groups in their community. (You can even offer to accompany them to a meeting with a support group – or organize one/start a branch in your community)

There are many support groups for women and families affected by BRCA mutations, Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer, and other types of cancer.


To find a support group right for you, please visit:

FORCE: Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered
FORCE is an 8,000+ member program and national nonprofit organization devoted to providing support to the high-risk community and improving the lives of individuals and families affected by hereditary breast and ovarian cancer. There are outreach and support groups in almost every state, as well as a comprehensive on-line network of discussions boards.

Bright Pink
Bright Pink is a unique organization dedicated to providing support and resources to young women at high risk for hereditary breast and ovarian cancer. With fundraisers and special events in many cities, Bright Pink brings together strong young women committed to being proactive with breast and ovarian health.

Imerman Angels
Imerman Angels is a not-for-profit organization providing one-on-one cancer support: connecting cancer fighters, survivors and caregivers. Imerman Angels partners a person fighting cancer with someone who has beaten the same type of cancer. Based on the theory that one-on-one relationships give a fighter the chance to ask personal questions and get support from someone who is uniquely familiar with their experience. The service is absolutely free and helps anyone touched by any type of cancer, at any cancer stage level, at any age, living anywhere in the world.

Livestrong
The Lance Armstrong Foundation is a national network that is dedicated to helping anyone affected by cancer. They provide information to learn about all different types of cancer, get one-on-one support and hear Survivor’s stories.

Susan G. Komen for the Cure Affiliate Network
Komen for the Cure is the world’s largest grassroots network of breast cancer survivors and activists fighting to save lives, empower people, ensure quality care for all and energize science to find the cures. Events like the Komen Race for the Cure brings together families, friends and strangers alike to feel empowered and unified, while raising money for breast cancer research. Affiliate groups are in 125 cities across the country.

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Visit our forums to share your opinions about the film or to discuss how BRCA and genetic testing have touched your life of the life of someone you know.

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