Decoding Annie Parker Review

They changed the date of the movie to May 19th instead of May 22nd.  I went last night for the screening hosted by Casting for Recovery (or CFR –, an organization that provides fly fishing retreats all over the US for breast cancer survivors of all stages.  You may ask, fly fishing?  But it provides a gentle activity for those who have limited mobility in their chest and upper arms due to breast surgery.  Pretty cool actually!  I can see how good this idea is as I had to do physical therapy after my surgery.  CFR was founded in Vermont by two women, one a reconstructive surgeon and the other a professional fly fisher.  I may apply and learn to fly fish.  Why the hell not–looks to be a totally fun, Zen-like, tranquil experience.

I was worried I might cry at parts of the film, with it matching so closely to my own experience, and I was having a bad day emotionally yesterday anyway.  I didn’t cry though, and actually laughed at a number of moments.  I wish more people would see this film, just to have a better understanding.   Starring Samantha Morton and Helen Hunt, this film is based on true events.  “Decoding Annie Parker tells the life affirming story of two remarkable women; the irrepressible Annie Parker, a three time cancer survivor and the geneticist Mary-Claire King whose discovery of the breast cancer BRCA gene mutation is considered one of the most important discoveries of the 20th century,” (taken from 

I related overwhelmingly to so many parts of this movie, specifically to what Annie Parker went through.  I laughed at the parts where she constantly gave herself breast exams–checking for lumps.  While watching a movie with her husband or at the dinner table with friends.  You can become obsessed with “feeling yourself up” on a highly frequent basis when you know BC runs in your family or find out you have the gene mutation.  I thought, omg, that was totally me too!   I almost felt this was my story and I’m glad such films are being made and recognized today.  It creates so much more awareness around the reality surrounding women with BRCA mutations.

They had a question and answer session afterward with a genetic counselor and a hematologist/oncologist.  I sat quietly and listened as several questions were raised about genetic testing for BRCA mutations, new drugs on the market, statistics and family histories.  While listening to the questions asked and feeling a majority of attendees were of the general population (meaning not having and likely not remotely in danger of having a mutation like mine), I realized at that moment how fairly unique I was.  Not that anyone wants to be unique in this way, of that I can assure you, but it is what it is.  One woman asked what the ratio of having a BRCA mutation is in women.  In the general population (excluding the Ashkenazi Jewish population) it’s 1 in 400. 


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