"I was doing a science degree way back last century when I realised 'I don't want to be a lab rat. I like talking to people'."
It was this realisation, coinciding with an opportunity to enrol in what at the time was a new course in genetic counselling, that set Bruce Hopper on the path that has seen him serving as the Lower Mid North Coast genetic counsellor for the past 24 years.
Since starting the role in 1998, Bruce's scientific aptitude and passion for working with people has combined to forge a career that has helped countless patients in the region.
As a genetic counsellor we're quite different from most other areas of medicine. We see patients from before conception to after death- Bruce Hopper
It has also seen him compile extensive family medical histories, records that help not just patients, but also their children, and even those yet to be born.
"As a genetic counsellor we're quite different from most other areas of medicine," Bruce said.
"We see patients from before conception to after death in regards to a whole heap of different conditions, like breast cancers, the bowel cancers, pregnancy planning, birth defects, developmental delay, all those kinds of things," he said.
"The question we're trying to help with is, is there potentially a genetic component to the condition, and if so, can we find a gene mutation that's causing it?
"And, if we can, what does that mean for that person, but also, what does it mean for other family members?"
While advances in the field of genetics have helped medical practitioners identify predisposing health issues, there is no escaping the inherent emotional consequences the situation brings to both patient and medical staff.
"The hardest part of the job is when you have to give really crappy news, especially if you're doing pregnancy testing," Bruce said.
The positives, however, are that early diagnosis often means early treatment, providing the best possible outcome in many situations.
"Once we know we can let your GP and your specialist know so they're aware to pick up on early signs, and that's what you want."
Jeans for Genes Day raises funds for the Children's Medical Research Institute, which does significant genetic research into childhood health conditions.
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