By Kim Brussow, genetic counselor
Who knew five to ten percent of cancers are due to a hereditary predisposition? Or that up to 25 genes can be tested at once versus the early days of genetic testing when only 2-4 genes were tested? Or that the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) prohibits health insurers and employers from discriminating based on personal genetic information?
An interest for the answers to questions like these and helping people understand them brought CHI Health Good Samaritan Genetic Counselor Kim Brussow across the nation to Kearney, Neb. She’s passionate about sharing this information and working with individuals to determine if genetic testing is right for them.
“I’m a genetic counselor, not a genetic tester,” explains Kim. She is available to meet with anyone who has a concern about their genetic risk for cancer, regardless of type of cancer in the family. And Kim also cautions that genetic testing isn’t for everyone.
“Genetic testing is for someone with lots of similar cancers in their family, early onset (under the age of 50) for any cancer, a family history of related cancers such as breast/ovarian or colon/uterine, and/or a history of rare cancers,” she says.
For individuals who want to explore their genetic risk factors, it all starts with a conversation.
“We discuss family and medical history, the pros and cons of testing, the limitations of testing and often clear up misconceptions about genetics,” Kim says.
Providing accurate information in a way individuals can understand is one aspect of Kim’s work she enjoys very much.
“Often, people are afraid if they have a genetic mutation, they are going to get cancer. Or they fear they will be denied health insurance because of their genetic information,” she says. “Part of what I do is talk through these concerns. A good discussion can help calm fears and is important to the entire testing process.”
A doctor’s order is required for a genetic counseling appointment, but there is no charge for Kim’s time.
About the author:
Kim Brussow and her husband left Mission Viejo, California for Kearney 4 years ago and fell in love with the community. Kim plays the viola and hockey and is the only certified genetic counselor in Central Nebraska. You can reach Kim at 308.865.7290 or firstname.lastname@example.org