With more than 50 members strong, the Basser Center’s Young Leadership Council (YLC) is an active forum for young adults to become more engaged with the mission of the Basser Center, stay informed about the latest advances in BRCA-related cancer research, and advocate and raise awareness about BRCA mutations and the Center. Through personal philanthropy and fundraising events, this committed group supports innovative BRCA-related cancer research, patient care, and educational priorities. 

In this month’s profile, get to know YLC member Shannon Hennessy Pulaski.

Where do you live?

I live in Millstone, New Jersey with my husband, twin daughters, and son.

What do you do for a living?

I am an attorney. I operate my own practice that focuses primarily on small businesses, contract review and drafting, employment law, trademarks, copyrights, and domain name disputes.

What do you do when you’re not working?

When I am not working, I am running around with my kids and enjoying life. Between karate, soccer, swim, Girl Scouts (who wants cookies?!), and baseball, we always have something to do to keep busy. When I have some extra moments, I try to fill them with art and writing. 

Why did you join the YLC?

Over the years I have volunteered with a number of BRCA-related organizations and was really excited to learn about the YLC. I was particularly drawn to the YLC because of its focus on funding research that is meaningful to the BRCA community. I am eager to play an active role in the YLC and help be part of a solution-based organization.

What areas of BRCA research are you most interested in?

I am most interested in the development of vaccines for BRCA carriers, particularly for previvors [individuals with a hereditary genetic mutation predisposing them to cancer, like BRCA1/2, but who haven’t yet had the disease]. I desperately hope that there are better options in the future for our children so they do not have to be faced with the difficult decisions and challenges the mutation brings.  

What is the most challenging part about having a BRCA mutation?

The most challenging part about having a BRCA mutation for me—hands down–is worrying about my children. Even with all the steps I can take to be proactive, there still is so much uncertainty and concern that the mutation will be passed on.

What makes you laugh the most?

My family. We know how to laugh even in the darkest moments, and I could not be more thankful for that!

What do you want to be when you grow up?

Growing up I always wanted to be an author. Even though I won’t grow up anytime soon, I am so excited to say that this will come to fruition very soon! I hope it will be a helpful tool to the BRCA community.  I promise to keep the YLC posted!

What do you think is the most important thing to communicate about BRCA?

Learn as much as you can; control as much as you can; then let go and breathe as much as you can. Having a BRCA mutation can be really overwhelming at times, but having knowledge allows you to have options. Having options allows you to take control of your health, be proactive, and feel empowered.

Opinions of the Basser Young Leadership Council members are their own personal opinions and do not necessarily represent those of the Basser Center.