Exciting News: Zak George’s Dog Training Revolution is Almost Here

So for the past few years, I’ve been working on a new book. This one is completely different than my first book, Previvors. It just so happens to be on one of my favorite subjects: Dogs!

I’ve had the great fortune to team up with celebrity dog trainer Zak George, the number one dog trainer on YouTube and an all-around great person. I’ve never met anyone more knowledgable and passionate about dogs. Every piece of advice he shares just makes so much sense and is always supported by science and 21st century ethics. I’ve learned so much from him, and I can’t wait to help spread his teachings to others through the book.

The book is entitled Zak George’s Dog Training Revolution: The Complete Guide to Raising the Perfect Pet with Love (Penguin Random House, 2016). It comes out on June 7th, and I’m looking forward to telling you more about it.


For now, you can get a good sense of what Zak (and the book!) is all about by reading our recent article on The Huffington Post.

Stay tuned.

Why Angelina Jolie’s Breast Cancer Risk Shouldn’t Be Big News

The cover story in this week’s issue of People talks about Angelina Jolie’s “Brave Choice.” 

The magazine might have been talking about her prophylactic mastectomy, but her decision to go public with her decision was just as brave…..and unbelievably important for women worldwide. In fact, one woman wrote to me on a message board that while she doesn’t necessarily like Angelina Jolie, she thanks her because she had never even heard of the BRCA mutations until last week. I know she’s not alone.

However, while I’ve been overwhelmed by the media attention breast cancer risk (BRCA and otherwise) and previvors have gotten in the past two weeks, it makes me sad that it took a celebrity’s announcement to bring these issues into the spotlight. Of course, I understand that’s the way our world works, but these issues are far too important for women to know about. Angelina’s announcement will save lives, but I think about all the women who didn’t know about their breast cancer risk until it was too late.

Certainly, organizations like Bright Pink and FORCE have done so much to educate people about previvors and the many options they have to protect themselves. But never before has this subject graced the cover of Time, People, and countless other publications in the same week. It has never been the lead story on so many news programs at once. It unfortunately took star power for that to happen.

I know the news cycle is a brief one. And Angelina’s news won’t be so big soon enough. But we REALLY need to continue this dialogue, regardless of which actress, model, politician, or athlete happens to be facing her risk. The vast majority of previvors—many of whom I call my friends— are not famous. But they are equally as brave and they, too, have stories to tell. We all need to listen.

Are You a Breast Cancer Previvor? Here Are 5 Ways to Tell…

With Angelina Jolie’s big announcement and all the media attention surrounding BRCA and preventative mastectomy, maybe you’re wondering if you or someone you love is a previvor (a person who hasn’t had cancer but has a high risk for developing it.) The truth is, most people don’t know that they are. For instance, though about 1/500 men and women have a BRCA mutation, less than 10% of people know that they do. (Note: The rate among certain populations is much higher—for instance, 1/40 Ashkenazi Jews have a BRCA mutation.)

Here’s how you can determine if you’re a previvor:

1. Know your family history. In most cases, a previvor’s risk starts with family history. So it’s crucial that you learn your family history on both sides of your family. Your father’s side of the family counts as much as your mother’s side. Going back as far as you can, find out about any family members who battled cancer and the ages they were diagnosed.

2. Watch for red flags. Are there more than two cases of cancer on the same side of the family? Is there any ovarian cancer or male breast cancer in your family? Have any relatives been diagnosed in their 40s or younger? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you might have a hereditary risk for breast cancer.

3. Learn your other risk factors. For instance, have you had any abnormal breast biopsy results? Do you have dense breasts, which is something your doctor can help you determine? Or have you taken hormone replacement therapy? These factors can all increase your risk for breast cancer.

4. Keep an open dialogue with your doctor. If you think you might be at risk, tell your doctor about your family history and other risk factors, and discuss what steps you should take. You should also consider seeing a genetics counselor, who can really help you understand your risk, discuss whether or not you should undergo genetic testing, and highlight the pros and cons of all of your options based on your results. The National Society of Genetic Counselors can help you find an expert in your area.

5. Remember, you’re not alone. Check out organizations such as FORCE and Bright Pink. They’ll both provide you with the latest research on hereditary breast and ovarian cancer. And they have message boards and other networking opportunities where you can speak with women who completely understand what you’re going through.

Angelina Jolie Tells the World She’s a Previvor

As an advocate for previvors and a friend to so many of them, I was beyond thrilled by Angelina Jolie’s announcement yesterday that she, too, is a previvor. Her candidness did so much for high risk women in just one day—people all over the world started learning about what it means to have a BRCA mutation as well as the options previvors face. She has educated so many and  has thrown this important issue directly into the spotlight.

While her decision to have a prophylactic mastectomy was very personal, I have somewhat of a sense of her thought process because the women in my book, Previvors, faced the same issues she faced. Especially since Angelina Jolie is a mother like they all are.

Here’s an idea of what she might have been thinking.

Guest Blogger from Sharsheret Sheds Some Light for Previvors

Here’s a great blog post from Niecee Schonberger, MS, CGC, Coordinator of the Genetics for Life program at Sharsheret. Thanks Niecee!

I met Dina at the annual conference of the National Society of Genetic Counselors last month in San Diego. She gave an inspirational presentation about some of the issues surrounding genetic testing and genetic counseling, specifically as they relate to previvors. As a Genetic Counselor, she invited me to share what I know about cancer risk, testing and genetics with all of you. Read More »

Thoughts About the National Society of Genetic Counselors’ Conference

I recently had the honor of speaking at the National Society of Genetic Counselors‘ annual conference in San Diego. Specifically, I participated in a plenary session and shared with 1200 genetic counselors the 5 Things Genetic Counselors Need to Know About Previvors. Bonnie J. Rough, author of Carrier, was my co-presenter.

I have to say, the crowd was one of the most receptive I’ve ever addressed. The genetic counselors were passionate about their patients and eager to learn how they might further help those with a high risk for cancer. For instance, one of my points was that previvors want their genetic counselors to follow up with them. Afterwards, many who heard my speech told me they were planning on calling or emailing each of their patients when they returned back home.

Read More »

Hope to see you at the National Society of Genetic Counselors Conference

This Friday, I’ll have the honor of speaking in front of nearly 1,000 of genetic counselors at the annual National Society of Genetic Counselors conference in San Diego. My plenary session is entitled “5 Things Genetic Counselors Need to Know About Previvors.” I’m excited and honored to participate in this important event.

Ever since my book, Previvors, came out last year I’ve been speaking nationwide to women and men about their cancer risk. I usually address risk factors, red flags, and all the statistics related to BRCA mutations, surveillance options, and the latest in prophylactic surgeries. But the genetic counselors already know all of this. In fact, many of them helped me decipher this critical information when I was first writing my book.

That’s why I’m shifting gears. Read More »

National Previvor Day: Why Most People Won’t Be Celebrating Today

Today is National Previvor Day. This day is so important for the millions of men and women out there who are previvors: People who have no had cancer but have a high risk for developing it. And many of those previvors will be celebrating the long-overdue increased awareness that this day brings to their population.

But having a designated “previvor” day isn’t enough. The majority of the people in this country have no idea that today is National Previvor Day. They have never heard of FORCE or Bright Pink. They don’t even know the first thing about breast cancer risk.

We still have a lot of work to do.

Read More »

Celebrating HBOC Week: Previvors Have Come So Far—But Still Have a Long Way to Go

In 2010, the U.S House of Representatives declared the last week of September National Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer  (HBOC) Week and the last Wednesday of the month National Previvor Day.  Needless to say, this was a huge feat for the previvor community—men and women with a high risk for cancer finally felt like their voices were being heard. With heightened awareness comes funding and support which, in turn, can lead to more research and better options for the millions of people at risk.

And as we prepare to celebrate the second annual HBOC Week starting today and Previvor Day on September 28th, it’s amazing to look back and see how far we’ve come.

As always, FORCE, Bright Pink, and other organizations have done so much nationwide to help spread the word. And if every fundraiser, educational event, teleconference and newsletter enlightened just one more person, then each one was a success.

However, we sadly have a long way to go. Read More »

I Don’t Know How She Does It—Cute but Missing a Key Point

This weekend I saw I Don’t Know How She Does It with a few of my girlfriends. (My husband happily stayed home—he’s the type of guy who tends to shy away from Sarah Jessica Parker movies.) Based on the 18% RottenTomatoes score it received, I was expecting the worst. And, as with most light comedies I’ve seen lately, it wasn’t actually all that bad. The plot was fluffy and the conclusion was ridiculous, but the cast was so likable that I actually smiled a few times (how can a movie with Greg Kinnear really be that terrible?)

As for the premise, well it’s about a woman trying to juggle a high-powered career and her family. And the script nailed all of the cliches—resentful stay-at-home moms who work out all day, the jealous male co-worker, the corporate climbing “I never want to have kids” female colleague. Sarah Jessica’s character, Kate,  tries to “do it all” by relying heavily on her husband and random babysitters.

But where I Don’t Know How She Does It failed miserably was the fact that, not once, did Kate turn to her friends. Read More »