After learning she had the BRCA2 gene mutation,
she had a double mastectomy and reconstructive
surgery in October 2010.
says the Calgary mother of two-year-old Greyson.
when I’m healthy, rather than live under that cloud
of being screened every six months and waiting for
Having control over her reproductive health was
another strong motivator; Docherty didn’t want to
free to choose whether to have more children or take
Now 37 and the new mom of son Carter,
Johnson-Ouellette, has been channelling her
survivor’s guilt into helping others who are
considering testing. For 17 years, she has been
sharing her experiences through the Southern
Alberta Chapter of the Huntington Society of
Canada, encouraging families to seek professional
negative think ‘I’m good, problem’s over,’ but that’s
a false reality. They need to understand how it
will change their lives and how to deal with it in a
One of the disadvantages families face with
an inherited condition is possible discrimination
based on genetic information. Johnson-Ouellette
was only able to get life insurance after testing
negative for Parkinson’s. She learned individuals
who acknowledge a family history of Huntington’s
disease may be turned down by insurance
companies as a health risk—even if they have
no symptoms of the disease and have never been
tested. Today, she is helping voice the need for
Canadian laws to prevent insurance companies and
employers from using predictive genetic testing to
decide who is insured or employed. (Americans
have been protected from the misuse of genetic
information in health insurance and employment
Not everyone wants to undergo genetic testing.
For some, the fear of knowing is greater than the
fear of not knowing. For others, being tested is the
only way to take control of their destiny. Knowing
what her future could have been gave Johnson-Ouellette’s life new purpose. Docherty, who was
back in the gym with her doctor’s okay 10 days
after surgery, felt privileged to stare down fate with
genetic information her grandmother didn’t have. a
Run. Walk. Donate.
As a supporting sponsor of the
2011 Sport Chek Mother’s Day Run & Walk,
apple magazine encourages you and your family to sign up for this
annual fun and fundraising event on May 8 in Calgary and Edmonton.
Proceeds support the Calgary Health Trust (intensive care units at the Peter
Lougheed Centre, Rockyview General Hospital and Foothills Medical Centre)
and the Stollery Children’s Hospital Foundation.
For more information and to register, visit mdrunandwalk.com.
Be healthy • Be well