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The Positive Gene Podcast-Ep. 10 - From Panic to Peace: Navigating Your Genetic Diagnosis Journey

Updated: Jan 2

(Links mentioned in the episode are located at the bottom of the page)


Welcome to "The Positive Gene Podcast." I'm your host, Sara Kavanaugh. Today, I want to address something that's been weighing heavily on my heart. In a support group I follow, I've seen several posts from people who are feeling scared and alone after receiving their genetic test results. They're grappling with uncertainty, not sure how to discuss their feelings with family and friends, and are understandably worried about what the future holds. So we are going talk about moving from Panic to Peace: Navigating our emotional journey after receiving your genetic testing results.

If you've recently learned that you carry a genetic mutation linked to cancer, it's natural to feel overwhelmed, scared, worried, even panicked… But understanding is the first step to resilience. In fact, I want you to remember you have the strength, adaptability, and the ability to recover from difficulties. Today's episode is all about transforming fear into proactive empowerment. My goal is to focus on personal empowerment and self-care, encouraging you to take ownership of your journey in a way that's respectful of your emotions and mindful of your unique situation.

And a reminder: I'm not a medical expert. My insights come from my personal journey as a hereditary cancer previvor and advocate. This podcast is here to share experiences and knowledge but always consult with healthcare professionals for your health decisions.

First, let's address the initial reaction - panic. It's normal to feel scared, but remember, stressing out won't change your results. It's about controlling the controllables. Plan to meet with your doctor, assemble your medical team, and research your specific mutation. This might seem like a daunting task, and trust me, I've been where you are, so if you're not sure where to start, I'd suggest going to the FORCE website at - they have a tab titled, "I've tested positive, now what?"

Now, if you find your mind racing, remember the distractions we discussed in our last episode? We discussed spending time with loved ones, delving into a good book, watching your favorite show on Netflix, or taking a peaceful walk. Journaling your feelings can also be incredibly therapeutic.

For those who, like me, find comfort in research, delve into credible sources about your diagnosis. Whether reading articles or watching informative videos, understanding your condition can give you a sense of control and clarity. I'll provide several recommendations in the show notes or on my blog at

Another crucial step is focusing on healthy choices. Good rest and nutrition are not just beneficial for your physical health; they also enhance your emotional well-being. If you're like me, it's tempting to succumb to stress eating, but remember how much better you feel when you nourish your body.

And remember to focus on what brings you joy and purpose. I have a friend who learned how to sew recently - she's found it helpful mentally and uses her new talent to give back to friends and the community. This simple activity gives joy and purpose, and in the spirit of the holidays, what can you do today that brings you joy and purpose?

Overcoming challenges after hereditary cancer risk diagnosis; mudgirl run; Sara Kavanaugh
Remember when you overcame that tough challenge? You can do it again!

You can also reflect on past challenges you've overcome - whether facing a loss, overcoming a physical injury, or climbing Mt Everest. Whatever it is, remember these moments of resilience define us.

Remember, you don't have to do everything at once. Start with one step today, and add another next week. You're in control of your pace. What's important is that you keep moving forward at a rate that feels right for you. I'm not saying you need to ignore your diagnosis or succumb to the idea that 'there's nothing you can do.' Instead, I'm suggesting embracing your journey with mindful awareness and self-compassion. It's about acknowledging your feelings, empowering yourself through informed choices, and finding balance in your life. In fact, I'd encourage you to listen to my episode, "Reclaiming Control: Defining Empowerment in the Wake of Hereditary Cancer Risk," about advocating for your well-being and health.

My life changed on September 7th, 2022, when I received my diagnosis of Lynch Syndrome and CHEK2 mutations. Admittedly, it took a while to reach this point, but I've since embraced the adage "knowledge is power." This journey has deepened my faith and spirituality, which has been a source of emotional and physical strength.

If you're struggling, it's okay to ask for help. Consult your doctor, contact a therapist or genetic counselor, or connect with peer navigators and support groups through organizations like FORCE, AliveandKick'n, and the Komen Support Resources. You're not alone in this.

Sara Kavanaugh, "Living With Hereditary Cancer Risk" by Kathy Steligo, Sue Friedman, DVM and Allison W. Kurian, MD.
Rely on credible resources like this one! "Living With Hereditary Cancer Risk" by Kathy Steligo, Sue Friedman, DVM and Allison W. Kurian, MD.

My own journey, over a year since my diagnosis, has had its ups and downs - physically with a thyroid cancer scare and multiple surgeries, including one that has put me into surgical menopause; emotionally with the realization that life will never be the same but it's also brought a supportive medical team, a community of friends and closeness with my family, and a wealth of knowledge that I'm now sharing with you. We may not have all the answers, but together, we can turn a difficult situation into a journey of empowerment and self-discovery.

Thank you for joining me on "The Positive Gene Podcast." Please reach out if you have any experiences or tips you'd like to share or if you want more information and resources. You can find additional support and details on my website at or on Instagram @positivegenepodcast.

Remember, you've got this. It's not an overnight journey, but step by step, we can navigate this path together.

Until next time, stay informed, stay empowered, and remember you have the strength to navigate your journey positively.

Links referenced in this episode:

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