CANCER WARRIOR OF THE MONTH
DIANE WHITE HARDESTY
“Knowledge is power. Information is liberating. Education is the premise of progress, in every society, in every family.” ~ Kofi Annan
For Diane Hardesty, knowledge has not just been powerful, it has been life saving for both her and her family. After many of her family members succumbed to cancer at young ages, including her own mother and 19 year old nephew, Diane was ultimately diagnosed with Lynch Syndrome. Similar to the BRCA Gene, Lynch is a familial/inherited syndrome that places Diane and others with Lynch at an 82% risk of developing colorectal cancer in their lifetime, along with an increased risk for many other types of cancer.
The Gloria Borges WunderGlo Foundation is pleased to share the story of an inspirational woman with a generous spirit and passion for sharing her family’s legacy in order to save others, as we proudly honor July’s Cancer Warrior of the month: Diane Hardesty.
Diane grew up in gorgeous, sunny Southern California and has been happily married to her loving husband, Walter, for almost 28 years. Combined- they have two sons, Chris and Stephan, two daughters “In-Love” (as she refers to them), seven beautiful grandchildren, and six great-grandchildren. Diane and Walter enjoy traveling to see their children and grandchildren as much as they possible can.
Diane Hardesty has been a patient speaker and advocate for hereditary cancer awareness, in particular, Lynch Syndrome since 2010. Last year, after 29 years of working as a bookkeeper and in the income tax practice, Diane retired, so she could devote more time to her advocacy work for hereditary cancer awareness and also to spend more time with her family. She is a patient speaker for Myriad Genetics and she travels nationally – sharing her family’s story and encouraging others to “know their genes”.
Prior to her family discovering that they had a hereditary cancer gene, known as Lynch Syndrome, ten family members had died from cancer. Diane’s mother passed away at age 56, her aunt at 58, and a cousin at 31, from colon cancer. Tragically, her 19 year old nephew died from brain cancer shortly before Diane was advised by her doctor to see a genetics counselor.
At first, like so many others, Diane was apprehensive about seeing the genetics counselor, fearing what she may learn, frightened to hear that she may test positive for Lynch Syndrome. Diane had already been doing what she could to prevent colon cancer by getting annual colonoscopies but she wasn’t ready to hear that she could actually have Lynch. A selfless and caring mother, Diane’s greatest worry was the possibility that she could pass this gene to her son, Chris. It took Diane’s doctor three years of urging her to see the genetics counselor, before she actually went.
When Diane finally had her genetic testing run, she learned the news that she had feared: she had tested positive for Lynch Syndrome. Armed with this knowledge, Diane went into “battle mode” and she educated herself as much as possible. She learned that most of the cancers that she is at highest risk for contracting are actually PREVENTABLE. Diane realized that her “knowledge” of having Lynch Syndrome was truly a gift, as it gives both her and her doctors the necessary tools to either prevent or detect cancer at its earliest onset. Diane has had more than 40-colonoscopies in her lifetime and because of her vigilance and that of her doctors, precancerous polyps and tissue have been removed six times: SIX TIMES that Diane could have developed colon cancer and because of her awareness and proactive behavior, she did not. The knowledge about her familial gene has given her the opportunity for preventative surgery, regular surveillance, and cancer screening.
This has earned Diane the title of “Previvor”: a word describing someone with a hereditary cancer mutation who was able to prevented a cancer diagnosis.
Diane has educated all of her family members about Lynch Syndrome and most of them have already been tested for this genetic mutation. Diane is so proud of the fact that since her family’s Lynch Syndrome gene was diagnosed, from her findings, there have been ZERO cancer deaths in her family, as compared with the ten that occurred prior to their familial genetic diagnosis. This has truly been life saving information.
Diane’s greatest relief came when she learned that her son, Chris, did not inherit Lynch Syndrome from her. This also means Chris’s children will not have Lynch and this news has brought Diane tremendous peace of mind of which she is so grateful.
In January-2017, Diane and her son were filmed about Lynch Syndrome for a heredity show from Lifetime Television. She brings an extremely important support and awareness aspect to both The WunderGlo Foundation and to the world by sharing her knowledge through blog postings on The WunderGlo website and by educating the countless patients that reach out to her.
Diane has taken her “gift of knowledge” about her family’s hereditary cancer and genetic mutation and has turned it into her passion to share with others. Through her tireless and selfless efforts, she does everything within her ability to make sure that undiagnosed individuals are provided with the information and tools to prevent their cancer and to save lives.
With the increased risk of developing colon cancer in herself and having had seven cases of colon cancer in her family, Diane feels very connected to The Gloria Borges WunderGlo Foundation’s mission of finding a cure for colon cancer. Together we educate, support others and bring hope to fearful situations. This year, WunderGlo proudly honors Diane White Hardesty as one of our Cancer Warrior Award recipients at our Foundation’s 6th Annual Gala in September.
Cancer, Your Time Is Up!