My name is Kristy, I am married with four beautiful children. In October 2020 at the age of 35, I discovered I inherited the faulty BRCA1 gene from my mother. The decision to undergo testing was carried out promptly, having had two cousins diagnosed with breast cancer, at the ages of 29 and 40. Thankfully, both cousins are now breast cancer survivors.
I was pregnant with my fourth baby when I undertook genetic testing. For some reason, I had a feeling that the result was going to be positive and my feelings were confirmed after receiving a call from the genetic counsellor. None-the-less, the news still came as a shock.
Admittedly, before talking to the genetic counsellor I knew very little about BRCA and genetic predispositions to cancer. So while I was waiting for my results, a lot of time was spent researching what it would mean for myself and my family if I did test positive. As a mum, I have obvious concerns for my children (Aged 18, 14, 2 and a 3-month-old) who may have inherited the faulty gene but for now, I am just focusing on being here for them in the years to come.
Through this process, I was also extremely concerned about my mum. She had only found out at the age of 63 that she was a positive carrier and was still waiting on further tests to clear her of any existing cancer. Thankfully, after a few months, she was cleared and underwent a salpingo-oophorectomy to prevent ovarian cancer and is taking the breast surveillance method with annual mammograms. Our common worries have brought us closer and she has been a great support so far.
My biggest fear at the moment is simply not knowing if, or when, I may have to face the challenge of actually having cancer. Knowing the chances are so high is an unnerving feeling and frankly does scare me at times. But the upside to that is – with knowledge, comes power. Knowing I have the chance to take charge of my health and make informed decisions to reduce my risks is empowering, and for that knowledge I am thankful. I lost my dad at the age of 10 to an unrelated rare syndrome that could have been prevented only if we had known about it. Unfortunately, that’s a very real and painful reminder of the need for more health awareness in our community.
I have an appointment at a high-risk clinic in April and have already decided to undergo both the preventative double mastectomy and salpingo-oophorectomy as soon as I can. Some days I do not look forward to what is ahead with those surgeries, my biggest fear being surgical menopause and the unknown of how my body will respond. Thankfully I have a very supportive family, including my husband who I know will be with me through every step of the process.
The biggest thing I have learnt about myself on this journey so far is my inner strength when it comes to making some big decisions. I’m usually a procrastinator over the day to day decisions but this has shown me how capable I am of facing these scary battles head-on. There has never been any doubt about what I need to do and I want to show my children that I am strong, brave and resilient and they can be too. Pink Hope has helped me to feel like I am not alone and that there is support and information out there for women like me.
I look forward to spending the next few months getting fit and healthy as I prepare for what’s ahead and I hope to use my story to raise more awareness about BRCA and cancer.
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