My name is Lauren and this is my story.
I found out at 24 that I carried the BRCA1 gene fault. The year prior my Mum found out she carried this gene fault also. It wasn’t a big surprise, my mother had breast cancer when I was 4 and my nan (my mother’s mother) died of cervical cancer when my Mum was just 14.
My mother was so strong throughout her treatment, with three children under seven and a husband who travelled a lot for work, it must have been so incredibly tough for her. You wouldn’t have known she was fighting this awful disease. She is an inspiration.
When I discovered I was BRCA1 positive I had just got engaged and my fiancé and I were excited about starting a family. After talking to the Genetic Counsellor and my specialist (the same one who saved my mother’s life) we agreed we would have a family first and then start thinking about the preventative surgeries I could have. I underwent six monthly check ups and regular mammograms, ultrasounds and MRI’s.
When I was 25 I got married and then at 27 I had my daughter and at 30 I had my son. During this time I found living with the gene fault a lot harder than I thought it would be. It appeared in my thoughts when I least expected it and now having children I worry that I have passed this fault onto them.
As planned after completing our family I went for my six monthly check up and told my specialist my husband and I were happy with two children and were ready to start a preventative plan. This is when having the BRCA1 gene fault started seriously impacting my life. First he gave me a script for tamoxifen which we had spoken about in the past. Then he gave me a referral to the plastic surgeon he works with to have a chat about what reconstruction I wanted as part of my preventative double mastectomy.
So in August 2012 I started taking the tamoxifen with a low dose pill as my specialist didn’t want me getting pregnant by accident while taking it. It took me a while to realise that I was experiencing side effects like night sweats, major mood swings and fatigue and I thought it was just me! I did want to stop taking it but my specialist said no. I persevered and they slowly went after six months. By this time I had booked my preventative mastectomy with diep flap reconstruction.
To add to this my specialist gynecologist said that with my family history he would like to remove my ovaries and tubes before I had the mastectomy. So in August 2013 I had this surgery and in September 2013 I had my prophylactic double mastectomy with diep flap.
I am now on the other side and feeling great. I only have to go for yearly checks and don’t have the worry of cancer being around the corner anymore. Hopefully by the time my daughter is old enough to get tested a cure will have been found.
Pink Hope has been a fantastic support. Just to know that you are part of such a wonderful, loving, caring community who are all on the same journey.