ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — A Rollins College graduate and Central Florida entrepreneur’s life took a turn when she learned her genetic history could impact her future.
What You Need To Know
- Businesswoman Lindsay Muscato's father has a gene that makes cancer more likely
- She tested negative for the gene, but wanted to help people with hereditary cancer
- In the past two years, Muscato's company has given $160,000 to Facing Hereditary Cancer Empowered (FORCE)
While she built her business, she also built a platform to give back to families affected by hereditary breast and ovarian cancers.
Lindsay Muscato, the founder of Teleties, looks fondly at black and white photos depicting a woman she never knew, yet, never expected would have such a profound impact on her life.
“I never was able to meet my grandmother," said Muscato. "I’ve heard amazing stories about her, but just knowing that she passed away at such an early age, and there was nothing she could do about it, it’s heartbreaking.”
Muscato’s father, Paul Phillips, carries his mother's legacy.
About 10 years ago, he learned he also carries a genetic mutation that predisposes him to cancer.
Phillips said he will never know for sure if his mother had it, but he feared for Muscato.
“As a parent, you want to pass on good things to your kids," said Phillips. "You want to pass on some intelligence, hopefully a sense of humor, maybe athletic ability. You don’t want to pass on genes that are going to potentially affect their life.”
“He said, 'Unfortunately I’ve been tested for the BRCA 1 Gene and my results came back and they’re positive,'" Muscato said.
If Muscato tested positive for the BRCA 1 genetic mutation, she would be at a significantly higher risk for breast and ovarian cancer.
She had mixed feelings when her results came back negative.
“I was personally relieved, but it made me realize that I had to do something. I had to get out there," said Muscato. "I had to talk about it. I had to talk about my story. So many people don’t realize that you can be tested for this gene. And so at that moment, it was the first thought that I said, ‘Some way, somehow, this will be a focus in my life, and I’m going to make it happen.'”
In 2017, Muscato started a company that quickly turned successful: Teleties.
Her telephone cord-shaped hair ties started selling all over the country, and as profits rolled in, Muscato knew it was time to revisit her family history.
She partnered with an organization called FORCE, dedicated to helping families with hereditary cancer.
“Karen, who we work with, literally said to me, 'Lindsay, what you’re going to be able to give back will literally be saving lives,'" said Muscato. "At that moment I had chills throughout my body.”
She and her father, to this day, believe knowledge is power.
“To make awareness of a problem that has opportunities for treatment is fantastic, so this is letting women in particular know that if you have the risk, you can be tested, you can be treated," said Phillips.
Muscato says over the past two years, her company has given nearly $160,000 to FORCE.