My name is Crystal and my journey began at just 10 years old.
My parents sat my brother, sister and I down to tell us that Mum had breast cancer. She was just 32 years old and it was aggressive. For me, cancer meant one thing, my Mum was going to die. Fortunately for us, Mum beat it.
We knew that my Nanna had also had breast cancer at 42 so we were aware that it was in the family.
When I was 18 the subject of genetic testing came up about which lead me to contact our local genetics centre and they sent me the relevant paperwork to start the genetic testing process. When I received the papers, I had to contact my Nanna to try and delve into our family history. It was then that I learned that distant relatives on Nannas side had also had breast cancer.
The realisation that I could very well have a BRCA gene fault that increased my chances of getting breast and ovarian cancer was too much for me to handle at such a young age and I chose not to go ahead with genetic testing.
Several years later, I had a pap smear test come back as a possible low grade abnormality. I had to retest in one year which coincidentally was just after I had my second child. The new pap smear came back as a Level 2-3 high grade which meant I urgently needed laser surgery on my cervix to kill the problem cells.
In January 2012, after I came home from my honeymoon, I received a call from my Aunty (Mum’s sister). Straight away I knew something was wrong but when she said that my other Aunty (mum’s youngest sister) had breast cancer, my world as I knew it was once again rocked by this horrible disease. We learnt that her cancer was stage 3b and she was in for a rough time if she was to beat it. Fortunately, she did and she’s currently having her regular checks. Because of our history, she was offered genetic testing for the BRCA gene mutations for which she tested positive to the BRCA1 gene mutation.
This lead to myself, my Mum and my Aunt (Mum’s sister) undertaking genetic testing for the BRCA1 gene mutation. My Mum and I tested positive and thankfully, my Aunt did not. My sister also tested negative and my brother is yet to be tested.