The BRCA Whisperer
A few months ago I was at an appointment with my gyno-oncologist when she first told me about “The BRCA Whisperer”
This was the first I had heard of her but I immediately knew I NEEDED to go see her. Apparently Dr. Julia Smith at NYU is the go-to person for women with genetic mutations. She specializes in cancer risk assessment, screening, and prevention for people who have an elevated risk of developing cancer. Basically you go in there, and she tells you EVERYTHING you need to know when it comes to your risk assessment. The only catch - it seemed like EVERYONE already knew about her which was evident from her FOUR MONTH WAITLIST.
So I did what anyone with a genetic mutation would do… I called to make my appointment… and I waited.. and waited… and waited..
UNTIL FOUR MONTHS LATER IT WAS FINALLY MY TURN!!! I felt like a chosen one…
Like I said, most of my Breast Friends are already her patients… in fact Bri and I ran into each other while at her office. Lucky for me, Bri gave me a secret tip: CALL AHEAD. Ask them how long of a wait you’ll have and they will give you a new time to come in so you aren’t sitting in the waiting room for hours.
Most people get frustrated by the wait but honestly I don’t mind when a doctor runs late - its typically because they are giving you the quality time you DESERVE.
This is especially true with Dr. Julia Smith. She doesn’t rush her patients. She sits with you, makes you feel heard, and special, and takes her time. Which I love.
So what makes Dr. Julia Smith the “BRCA Whisperer,” or technically the genetic mutation whisperer?!
For one, she has a PhD in cell biology and retroviral genetics and a clinical specialty of medical oncology. As part of her services at Perlmutter Cancer Center, she evaluates patients who have had cancer as well as those who have not.
For people who have a personal or family history of cancer, receive biopsy results that indicate possible risk, or have been exposed to external agents that may carry risk, she provides a complete medical evaluation. When appropriate, she may consider genetic testing (if you haven’t already done so.) She also offers screening and risk-reducing strategies and procedures with continued care and follow-up appointments.
Cancer risk assessment must be tailored to current known standards of carel, but I love that she goes above and beyond to adapt care to an individual’s needs, understanding, and tolerance of personal risk. Her ultimate goal is to be able to apply fully effective screening and prevention techniques without performing unnecessary tests. To achieve this, she really takes her time evaluating people on an individual basis. It’s not a one size fits all approach.
Oh… not to mention she has been recognized by Castle Connolly’s “Top Doctors” series for the New York Metro Area and by SHAPE magazine as one of the “Women Who Have Shaped the World” in 2007. She is also the recipient of a clinical research fellowship from the American Cancer Society and she was awarded the Ovarian Cancer Research Award by the Lynne Cohen Foundation, among other awards.
She is a total badass and mountain mover and I am SO grateful to have her as my doctor. To read all about my first visit with her, click here.