A quarterly support group is beginning through CHI Memorial next week. (Photo: Jeremy 1786, Flickr)

A support group for women at risk for hereditary breast and ovarian cancers is beginning March 22 at CHI Memorial’s Rees Skillern Cancer Institute.

The group, Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered, will meet once every quarter from 4:30 to 6 p.m., a news release said. This FORCE group is the second of its kind nationwide, said Catherine Marcum, APN, AGACNP-BC at CHI Memorial.

She said:

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This group is designed for people who have been through genetic testing who were found to have one of the genes that dispose people to cancer. The reason [for this group] is because there are a lot of psychosocial components to a positive genetic result that affects the individual and their family. We want women who have tested positive and those who have had surgery to know they are not alone on this journey and provide them access to the resources they need to make the best decisions about their care.

The primary hereditary breast cancer genes-mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes-are also associated with an increased risk for ovarian and other cancers, Memorial staff said.

There is a 50 percent chance of inheriting these mutated genes from parents with certain genetic markers, Marcum said. This knowledge can be a burden, and FORCE seeks to help discuss this and similar worries, she said.

Marcum said she and other Memorial staff are looking forward to beginning FORCE.

“We’re very excited for this group,” Marcum said. “To have the opportunity to work with families that have hereditary cancer predisposition genes and help them meet their psychosocial needs and develop camaraderie is thrilling.”

This support group is open and free, Marcum said. For more information on the support group or to schedule an appointment, Memorial staff said to call 423-495-2258.

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