My name is Hannah and this is my story.
I am 22 years old and have undergone a preventative double mastectomy.
My mum was first diagnosed with breast cancer at 28 years old when I was nine months old and my sister was two. The cancer was aggressive but thankfully she beat it. In 2000 at 34 she had a recurrence and once again she beat it. In 2007 when I was 14, doctors found pre-cancerous cells in her remaining breast, this prompted my mum to have a mastectomy and a full reconstruction. No one ever thought it could be a genetic predisposition that was causing this because our family didn’t have an obvious history of cancer.
At 16 I started to question her situation more, to me it didn’t make any sense that a healthy mother of two would develop cancer so young and I started to think ‘why has this happened and am I next?’
I started using the internet to research genetic breast cancer, although there wasn’t a lot of information at the time I came across some sites with information about the BRCA gene mutations. My mum had never heard of the BRCA genes, I urged her to get tested and she came back positive for a BRCA2 mutation. This gave my sister and I the option to receive the testing (at no cost) as well. I was 19 when I finally got my results; just like my mum I carry the same BRCA2 mutation.
Because I was so young I was recommend to undergo annual breast MRI’s until I could make an informed decision. I did this for two years but personally found the anxiety of waiting for results too much and at 21 after A LOT of appointments, research and feeling as though the timing was right, I felt comfortable making the decision to book in my risk reducing surgery for June 2016.
While writing this I am seven weeks post-op and although it’s been very difficult at times I have no real regrets about my decision. Any problems I’ve had pale in comparison to the thought of going though what my mum did.
People often question my age tell me I am to young to make such big life altering decisions, although I may be young I have been mentally preparing myself for this since I was 16 years old, it was not a snap decision at all and I have taken charge of my own future.