My name is Annabelle and I’m 29. My journey began in 2007. I was standing in an oncologist’s consulting room with my grandma and grandpa when he told us that my grandma had breast cancer. The news literally made me fall into a wall. The woman who raised me had cancer. Why her? Why us?
So her journey began. Chemotherapy, surgery, radiotherapy… it was appointment after appointment. 2 years later, after being cleared of breast cancer, we were again told some hard news. She had ovarian cancer this time. So it started again, but one appointment caught my grandpa’s attention- when the doctor asked about our family history.
My great-aunt, great-grandmother and 2 of my grandma’s cousins all had breast and ovarian cancer. The youngest, only in her 30’s. All lost to this dreadful disease. So we were then referred to Peter Mac for genetic testing and we finally understood where this line of cancer was coming from- we all carried BRCA1.
My beloved grandma lost her battle in 2011. She was a fighter all her life and her love and strength lives on in us everyday.
After my dad tested positive for BCRA1, I was tested in 2012 and thus, started my own journey. I’d had my little girl a few months earlier and decided that I didn’t want her to lose me like I lost my grandma.
I started the yearly MRI and breast checks. However, every year I grew more and more anxious that my “deadline” was looming. My husband and I had decided before even getting my results that if I was positive, preventative surgery was the way to go. I decided to have 1 more child before I started that process. So in 2016, my son was born and I began looking at my options.
The double mastectomy was first. I went to a Pink Hope Information & Support Day for some answers and got them! I was booked for my mastectomy 6 months later. In February 2018, I had a double mastectomy and immediate reconstruction. I was so nervous. I didn’t know what to expect at all. Because everyone is different and nobody could give me definite answers of what would actually happen.
Fast forward, I was out of the hospital and back on my feet within 3 weeks. It was amazing. The relief that showered me after I woke up came out as a sob. I was so happy. I don’t regret my decision for even 1 second.
Given my age, my doctors want me to keep my ovaries for a little longer. So this year sometime, I will be having my Fallopian tubes taken out and this time I’m not even a little bit nervous! This year has been the best year of my life. It means so much to look at my little ones and know that there is more of a chance that I’ll get to see them grow up. I’d urge other women in my predicament to look at their options and see that just waiting for cancer to come isn’t your only option.