“Decoding Annie Parker” portrays hunt for breast cancer genes.
Based on true events, the movie tells the life affirming story of two remarkable women; the irrepressible Annie Parker (Samantha Morton), a three-time cancer survivor and the geneticist Dr. Mary-Claire King (Helen Hunt) whose discovery of the breast cancer BRCA mutation is considered one of the most important discoveries of the 20th century.
Waged on both scientific and emotional fronts, they are drawn together not just by the disease but by their shared determination and unconventional approaches to their research and to their lives.
When Anne Parker was diagnosed with first breast cancer and later ovarian cancer, she knew “there was something more than bad luck in my diagnoses”.
Having lost both her mother and sister to the disease, she had grown up in the shadow of breast cancer, convinced that her family shared a deadly link. As she confronted her own diagnosis, her search for answers about the role the disease played in her family became “all consuming and obsessive”.
In 1998, Anne underwent genetic testing and discovered that she carries a BRCA1 genetic mutation.
Armed with what she considered invaluable information about the role of genetics in predicting cancer risk, she felt compelled to share her story and educate other families about the value of genetic testing.
I wanted to write about the advantages of being tested for the BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations, with the hope it would inspire women to be tested.
In 2007, Anne Parker met Steve Bernstein, an award-winning cinematographer and writer. He was looking for a strong story for his first film as a director and was inspired by her story and that of geneticist Dr. Mary-Claire King.
So, his script melded Ann’s personal journey with the scientific story of geneticist Mary-Claire King’s work to discover the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genetic mutations.
“Decoding Annie Parker” offers a rare window into the world of cancer treatment and being a female patient in the 1970s and 1980s.
It features a cancer survivor’s personal mission to educate others about genetic testing.
Anne Parker hopes the film will both entertain and provoke discussions that will lead to early detection and cancer prevention screening:
“It is my wish to arm people with information that could help them either dodge the cancer bullet or at least have it diagnosed in early stages before it spreads”.
Hereditary cancer screening is the key step in actual cancer prevention. Screening for mutations allows for appropriate and timely decision on patient management by a medical professional.
Early detection of BRCA1 and BRCA2 variants predisposing breast and ovarian cancer saves lives.
Today, leaders in science advocate for BRCA1 and BRCA2 genetic screening for every woman above the age of 30 as part of routine medical care. To say it with one of the protagonist of the movie, Mary-Claire King: “to identify a woman as a carrier only after she develops cancer is a failure of cancer prevention. They should have the choice to learn if they carry an actionable mutation in BRCA1 or BRCA2. It is time to offer genetic screening of these genes to every woman”. (JAMA 2014)
Early detection of BRCA mutations is today possible through an easy-to-perform genetic test: Serenity by Genoma.
Non-invasive and painless, it enables early preventive action and personalized treatment best-suited for the specific mutation identified.
To know how it works, please check out Serenity test page.