My name is Brodie and this is my story.
First of all, I truly consider myself extremely lucky even though I carry the BRCA 1 gene mutation. I’m 22, I’ve recently completed a Bachelor of Paramedicine and Nursing and I’m about to commence my graduate year!
My mum was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 29 and ovarian cancer at 45.
It wasn’t until several other family members including my Auntie and Grandpa were diagnosed with cancer and subsequently underwent genetic testing, that I realised that I too might be at risk. Luckily, my mum fought cancer with a down to earth, no fuss and positive attitude. I may have inherited a crappy gene but I also inherited her positive attitude to life. Unfortunately although I wanted to be tested immediately, I had to wait until I was 18.
Once I was able to be tested, my suspicions were confirmed- I was BRCA1 positive. I would have preferred to dive-in to preventative surgeries, straight away although with being full time at university, it wasn’t the right time for me. I felt that taking a break from uni would completely alter my momentum and chance of graduating on schedule.
After attending some information sessions regarding both surgical and monitoring options, the decision slowly became clearly to me. It wasn’t exactly perfect timing, but when my name came up on the wait list, I was as ready as I was ever going to be. With the support of my family and family I underwent my nipple sparing, bilateral mastectomy with DIEP (deep inferior epigastic perforators) reconstruction.
I was lucky enough to be allocated the surgeon that performed mums breast surgery. It was somewhat comforting and reassuring to have been able to have Dean Trotter as my plastic surgeon. Let me just say- he was AMAZING. Thank-you Dean Trotter!
It wasn’t exactly an easy procedure as it felt like half of my body parts had been relocated. It has definitely taken a little bit of getting used to. It was a long recovery process but I was well supported by some special people. Monique, a Breast Care Nurse and Jenny a Wound Care Nurse deserve a mention as without them my journey would have been much more difficult. They were able to answer ANY questions I had, honestly and openly, and provided emotional support on days when I was feeling down.
I believe that I’ve made big decisions and undergone big surgeries, but I don’t necessarily agree when people call me brave. To me, I simply feel empowered by my decision to have preventative surgery. What is clear to me is that talking to other women who openly shared their experiences both good and bad helped me through this entire process. I was younger than most of the women I met but their words of advice supported me in my decision-making.
I attended Pink Hope’s meet-up with the amazing Paige More in Sydney. I was lucky to have been contacted by another Breastie, Tess, heading to Sydney. Tess and I met at the airport, and instantly bonded!
I think it’s really important to reach out to others as you’ll never know what journey they’re on, or if you’re possibly on a very similar one!
I’m so fortunate to have had such a great support system and medical team throughout this entire process. I truly believe those voices of encouragement and understanding is what got me through. My aspiration moving forward is to advocate for younger women who are going through this process and let them know we’re all in this together.