My name is Bree and this is my Pink Hope story.
I am 31 and have just had my prophylactic double mastectomy in August, 2015. I am still not quite used to saying those words!
My story begins with losing my Grandmother a month before I was born to Breast Cancer. Her sister also passed away 2 weeks before her of the devastating disease. It then showed up in the next generation, my Aunty was diagnosed with Breast Cancer at 37 and then again in her 40s in the breast that she didn’t have removed. Luckily for our family my Aunty undertook genetic testing due to this significant family history and was found to be carrying the BRCA2 mutation. My Dad also tested positive and my diagnosis was not long after.
It was 2009, I was only 25, just married to my husband Ryan and new Mum to our son Angus. What was I to do with such a burden?? After an initial consult at the Peter Mac Familial Cancer clinic, I was told to go on living my life, finish my family and come back in my early 30s to make some decisions. The Breast surgeon I saw then said that I had been given my breasts for one reason and that was to breastfeed my children. Now looking back, that is the positive my breasts have brought to my life, being able to feed and nurture my babies. For that experience I am eternally grateful.
So after my 30th Birthday I returned to the Peter Mac to discuss my options and make plans. After 2 more babies, our family was complete and I was ready to face what lie ahead. One of my mantras is “Knowledge is Power” and I knew that I needed to use my BRCA2 diagnosis to beat cancer before it got the chance to beat me.
I chose to have my operation in Adelaide, to be close to friends and more accessible to my family. I wanted the best surgeon possible and after a lot of searching the Internet and advice from fellow Pink Hope members I had a consult with Dr Melissa Bochner.
For me, the lead up to my PBM was definitely the worst part. Planning on leaving my husband and children for a whole month was a logistical nightmare. I stressed and lost sleep over the smallest of details. One day I realized that if I were to go overseas for a month, I probably wouldn’t care so much. Children are resilient and husbands are very capable when they need to be!
I had a Bye Bye Boobie party with my closest friends and a Boudoir Soul photo shoot to capture my body before surgery. I chose to celebrate my experience and the fact that I was making a positive decision.
On the 20th August I had my bilateral nipple sparing, skin reducing prophylactic mastectomy. I was lucky enough to go direct to implant and was so excited to wake up with boobies. My surgeon has done an amazing job, not only has she saved my life, but given me beautiful breasts.
I spent the next month in Adelaide recovering and trying to do as little as possible. Such a task for a busy mum, but I do believe the rest and not overdoing it resulted in my near problem free recovery.
There are positives in every situation and for me it was the awareness that I have created through my journey. Through sharing my story, I have been contacted by women who feel that they may also be at risk due to a significant family history. I am so please that my experience may also benefit other women and change their fate.
I am so grateful that I have been given the opportunity to change my own fate, but hope that if my daughter, Alice, is BRCA2 positive, she will follow an easier path.
The thing about being brave is that it doesn’t come with the incense of fear and hurt. Bravery is the ability to look fear and hurt in the eye and say; move aside, you are in the way.