Several members of my family have been diagnosed with cancer including my Dad who passed away from breast cancer at 49 when I was just 12. Two years later my Mum was diagnosed with breast cancer – she is a survivor and currently in her late 70s.
As a teenager and young adult I was very aware of the family history of cancer in my family and thought there may be a genetic link. In my 30s I was having my family and focussed on that stage of my life. In the back of my mind I knew the hereditary risk of cancer was something I would need to determine and deal with. Last year I undertook genetic testing and found that I carried the BRCA2 gene mutation. I was first in my family to get tested and this has now opened the door for other family members, although we don’t know which side of the family it has come through. To reduce my risk of cancer I have had my ovaries removed and plan to have a mastectomy later this year. I feel that now is the right time for me to be taking these proactive steps with my health.
I was only told shortly before he died that my Dad had breast cancer and was very sick. My Dad was a very private and proud man. If I could say something to my Dad it would be “I wished you had been able to talk to me about your cancer and your feelings.” Looking back I can see that, as a man in the 1980s, he really struggled with his breast cancer diagnosis. It is great that there is more awareness now about male breast cancer.
I feel my Dad is present in my life. He was a huge part of my life before he died and still is in many, many ways. I have so many lovely memories of spending time with my Dad, especially going to the beach. One of my fondest memories is of him taking me to the movies and, and sitting on his lap with him holding me watching movies at home.
I feel that I’m in a good place. I have been able to do something both my parents couldn’t – take charge of my life, ensuring I am there for my son for a long time.