pt Health is raising awareness for Hereditary Diffuse Gastric Cancer.

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Picture of RachelRachel and pt Health.

Rachel Onishi has been involved with pt Health in one way or another since 2006. During her undergraduate days, she spent a few days volunteering over a Christmas break at Queenston Physiotherapy, a pt Health clinic in Stoney Creek.  Everyone was impressed by Rachel right from the start – her positive attitude, her willingness to take on the toughest jobs, and her work ethic in general.  Rachel applied to and was accepted by Queens University for physiotherapy.  Just before graduation, Rachel was recruited by Peter Ruttan, pt Health’s Director of Human Resources. She started working at pt Health Flamborough Physiotherapy in September of 2009. She’s been a huge asset both to Flamborough Physiotherapy and pt Health ever since.

This is her story.

Genetic testing, diagnosis, and decisions.

On Friday December 6th 2013 after undergoing genetic testing, Rachel received the news that she had tested positive for the CDH1 gene mutation.  People who have a mutation in this gene have an increased risk of developing Hereditary Diffuse Gastric Cancer (HDGC). When she first tested positive for the gene, Rachel was told that she had an 83% lifetime risk of developing this type of cancer before the age of 80 – most people develop HDGC at a median age of 38. She also has a 60% chance of developing lobular breast cancer.  It is also linked to colon cancer.  Her grandfather died of HDGC at the age of 30.

Rachel is 29 years old.

Further screening and testing began. On February 5th  results from Rachel’s endoscopy came in. They showed that she had two areas of carcinoma in her stomach. Luckily, the areas appear to be small and contained. She is scheduled to have a complete gastroectomy – stomach removal – on May 12.

April for Rachel – what pt Health will be doing to help.

We will be working with Rachel to raise awareness around the CDH1 gene mutation and for Hereditary Diffuse Gastric Cancer. This is the kind of cancer that is incredibly hard to detect. One it’s found, it is typically too late. The ability to test for the CDH1 gene mutation is recent and Rachel is passionate about doing everything she can to let people know about what options might be available to them. pt Health is behind her 100%.

We’ll be posting regular blog entries chronicling what life has been like for Rachel since her diagnosis. We’ll be giving you as much information about HDGC and the CDH1 gene mutation as possible. We’ll be sending you to sites where you can donate to help raise funds for research for this rare form of stomach cancer. We’ll post links to Rachel’s personal blog.

But mostly? We’ll be celebrating one woman’s extraordinary response to a very difficult situation. This is April for Rachel. We’re going to make a difference.


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