Genetic research gives sisters the chance their mother never had

Nathalie Dupont,
Research

“We were luckier than our mother was 25 years ago, and I want to thank gene research and genetic testing for saving people’s lives, including ours.”

Nathalie Dupont’s cancer journey began in 2018, with a pain she’d never experienced and a certainty that something wasn’t quite right. 

Within 24 hours, she was having an abdominal scan. Several tests later, she was diagnosed with Stage 2 ovarian cancer. Less than a month after that, she was undergoing surgery and chemotherapy. 

Little did Nathalie know that her own diagnosis would ultimately be responsible for saving her sister and possibly others in her family as well.

Learning that Nathalie’s mother had died of breast cancer at 59, Nathalie’s surgeon suggested her siblings undergo genetic testing for a predisposition to cancer. 

“When my surgeon told me about genetic testing, I didn’t hesitate because I have a younger sister, some nieces and a brother,” Nathalie recalls. “I thought I could help them avoid going through what I was going through.”

Genetic testing showed Nathalie’s sister Helene that she, too, was a carrier of the ovarian cancer-causing BRCA gene, while a subsequent biopsy showed she had early stages of cancer. Fortunately, the cancer was discovered before it could progress beyond Stage 1. 

To this day, Helene will often say to her sister, “Nathalie, you saved my life.”  

Research made all the difference for Nathalie and her family. Without genetic testing, a diagnosis for Nathalie’s sister Helene would very likely have come too late; ovarian cancer is particularly dangerous because it shows very few symptoms even as it grows and spreads. Breakthroughs unlocked by research funded by the Cancer Research Society saved both sisters’ lives.

Nathalie makes a donation every year in support of cancer research — and whether with friends or family, she talks about cancer and importance of cancer research as much as possible. She even encouraged a friend to go get tested, who ended up testing positive for the BRCA gene. 

“Research saves lives,” she says. “Research helped me survive, it helped me fight cancer. I’ve had the gene for ovarian cancer since I was a baby, and if I had known earlier then I could have done something about it even sooner.  We can’t get rid of the gene, it’s there for life, but because of research it was discovered early for my sister, and she’s alive today.”

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