My name is Elisha and this is my story.
I am a wife and a mother to two beautiful girls. I lost my gorgeous mum when she was only 58 to ovarian cancer which metastasised to her brain. She was diagnosed in 2007 not long after she was given the all clear from her 2005 breast cancer diagnosis.
When given the news of her breast cancer mum did not hesitate to opt for a mastectomy. I had always thought that if they were trying to kill you it would be an easy choice. But the day she went in for surgery I suddenly became very aware of my own femininity and what a huge step that was.
Having two daughters of her own mum chose to pay for the genetic testing. The results for the BRCA gene mutations came back negative. A slight relief but given her two primaries in related cancers it still left me with concerns. After having my children I was considering having a preventative mastectomy and after years of challenges with chronic endometriosis which mirrored mums life, I was also intending to have a double oophorectomy.
My husband and I had our girls and were about to try for another baby when I found two breast lumps, clear as day. My husband was working overseas so I didn’t want to worry him unnecessarily. The scans and biopsies returned inconclusive or negative results but I just wasn’t comfortable. My husband returned and I had the lumps removed. I will never forget the call from the surgeons office……come straight away and bring someone with you. They couldn’t look at us while we waited. There was music playing and I decided the last song I heard as I walked in would be my theme song. A good omen played loud…The Only Way Is Up!!!
I was lucky, it was a very early catch and the prognosis was great. A further surgery confirmed the lymph nodes were also clear. Then came the choice of radiation or mastectomy. A conversation with a genetic counsellor cleared the air on the right choice for me. Although mum was clear from the BRCA gene mutations there was clearly a gene mutation in our family. It just hasn’t been identified in research yet. So without that information I am placed in the same risk category as someone with a BRCA1 gene mutation.
So without any doubts I chose to proceed with a double mastectomy and reconstruction. It’s funny how easy the decision actually was when it came time. One thought of my children and it was simple. And what a choice….pathology showed a 6cm DCIS was found buried deep and had remained hidden until that moment. The surgeon could only say it was truly a life saving decision.
The journey has been challenging and incredibly rewarding at the same time. I believe I have had wonderful luck and been given a beautiful insight into those that rallied to my side and those that fled. I’ve become a very vocal advocate for self breast checks every month and knowing your risk. But most importantly I have gained knowledge and in turn power to help my girls live without fear.
My hope is that my girls continue to be armed with more options and answers throughout their lives.