In the Family: How much do you sacrifice to survive?
Joanna Rudnick is young, beautiful and has a promising career in filmmaking – and a ticking time bomb inside her. She was 27 years old when she received the bad news: she tested positive for a mutation in the BRCA gene, a mutation that highly predisposes her to breast and ovarian cancer, just like many women in her family.
In high risk cases like this, prophylactic mastectomy and oophorectomy is recommended to pre-empt the disease, which is basically the removal of breasts and ovaries before cancer strikes. But Rudnick turned the camera on herself to answer the question “How much do you sacrifice to survive?” In her directorial debut In the Family “she takes us on a journey through the unpredictable world of predictive genetic testing.”
According to research studies, prophylactic mastectomy and oophorectomy substantially reduces the risk for getting breast and ovarian cancer although there is no 100% guarantee. But the preventive surgery comes with a high price, as Rudnick knows.
Is she going to give up her dreams of having her own children in order to survive?
Is she risking her life by holding on to her fertility?
Rudnick also looked into the business side of things – at the company that owns the patents to the BRCA genes. Yes, they are patented, believe it or not. For every BRCA test performed in the US, the company gets money. European researchers have been fighting against this control but unfortunately lost the battle in court last December 2008.
Finally, Rudnick also talked to other women facing the same dilemma as she.
Earlier this year, the report of the first BRCA-mutation free baby in the UK triggered mixed reactions and heated discussion. Looking at what Rudnick and others are going through now, I can imagine how grateful that baby girl would be to her parents someday.