My name is Melinda and this is my story.
I’m 32 years old, I have four children Bailey 13, Liam 11, Kiara 9 and Jet 7. I’m a wife, mother, daughter, sister, aunty, niece, cousin and a friend.
When I was 6 my mum was diagnosed with breast cancer, I was very little and don’t remember a great deal of it but I remember my mum being very ill and in and out of hospital a lot. She had many operations and the last was a double mastectomy as well and her lymph nodes under her arms removed. I know her breast cancer was very aggressive and 5 lumps turned into 15 lumps within 2 weeks when they operated, she went through lots of chemo, lucky for me I had 3 older sisters and my mum and I lived with 1 of my sisters so she was able to take care of me and my mum….. my mum has now been cancer free for 25 years this month. She was very lucky and so were 2 of her sisters but a couple of other family. members weren’t!!
Early 2013 my sister received a diagnosis of breast cancer which once again rocked our world but this time I was old enough to grasp the affect of it, my sister went through chemo and also had a full hysterectomy and in November last year she had a double mastectomy with the tummy tuck (not sure the proper medical term for it). Her strength was truly amazing….. my sister Ann wanted my other 2 sisters and myself to have the gene test as they knew where the gene was coming from and which one it was. I was very keen for the idea I wasn’t phased by it as I thought I was untouchable and that I wouldn’t have the gene fault and I was just concerned for my other 2 sisters Karen and Debbie.
On the 24th of September 2013 me and my sisters met with the genetic counselor to discuss the testing I was really concerned about Karen as she really wasn’t keen on the idea but we did the blood test all on the same day and on the 12th of November 2013 we received our results. I was so positive I even had a text message ready for my husband and best friend saying I was all clear I just had to push send. I remember the day like it was yesterday, the 3 of us all walked into the room with the geneticist and sat down, she said “I have some good results and a bad result” my heart sunk, I was still thinking I was clear and it was 1 of my sisters, we all looked at each other the geneticist looked at me and said “sorry Melinda you carry the BRCA2 gene fault and Karen and Debbie you are clear”.
My heart sank. I felt like I couldn’t breath I turned to my sisters and I saw there faces and they went to pieces, it broke my heart here I was shattered in a million pieces for myself and all I could do was sit there and tell my sisters that it’s going to be ok and I was glad it was me and that they were ok which I was so happy and glad for them and that there was only 2 out of 4 of us that had the gene and Ann had already the cancer and then me with the gene. The next 30 minutes were a blur I was looking at the geneticist and her words were going in 1 ear and straight out the other I couldn’t comprehend what she was saying I could hear but it just wasn’t sinking in I felt like it was an out of body experience and I shut down.
We made it down stairs at the hospital I was trying to relax my sisters and telling them it was ok, the text I was going to send I had to delete and I had to call my husband and he was lost for words as I was so positive that made him positive and he was truly heart broken.
I finally made it home and went into overdrive. I had to tell my parents and my kids which was heart breaking. All my daughter could say was “Mummy does that mean I have the gene? Am I going to get cancer?” How do you explain that to a 9 year old??
I called my mum and told my mum who still to this day hasn’t come to terms with it and blames herself which is totally unfair. It’s not her fault it’s the luck of the draw. She couldn’t even talk to me on the phone and had to hang up. Then I had to tell my other sister Ann who was so mad at cancer and was mad at the world and to hear her crying on the phone was devastating. The rest of day I got through. I don’t think it really sunk in until the next day when I cried and cried and cried. Still to this day the only way I can look at it is that I have this ticking time bomb in my body that can go off at any time; it could go off slowly or it could go off with a massive explosion.
On the 6th of January I went and had my first lot of scans. I had an MRI and a mammogram which I hadn’t had before. I did these on my own as I wanted to do this by myself I didn’t want to put my family through anymore pain of having to watch me. I remember laying on my belly in the MRI machine and my tears were flowing and I was trying to pull myself together thinking there is are a lot more people worse of then me. I only have the gene fault and knowing my sister was in an appointment upstairs about her up coming surgery I had to think about her not myself. I walked out of the MRI and my sister and brother inlaw were sitting waiting for me and all I could do was smile knowing they were waiting for me when they had so much of there own grief to deal with.
I went for my mammogram and I have never felt so out of my comfort zone. I felt violated to be sort of flashing myself which I know is normal but so isn’t me to do that. I get done and then the anxious wait begins, 2 weeks after I get a call to go into the hospital I was absolutely packing myself. I remember the surgeon saying my results were so far all clear, he went over some options and wanted to know what path I wanted to take. I couldn’t tell him I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do or what I should do as my head was spinning and all I could think about was my kids. The surgeon said come back in 6 months and tell him what I wanted to d,o which road I wanted to take….
So today, 7 weeks since my last appointment, I have finally made my decision to go for the double mastectomy and hysterectomy. It has been a long 7 weeks and so many tears between me and my husband and endless amounts of late nights discussing our options and what is best for us and our family. I have gone over everything a million times. Speaking to family members I realized the affect it had not only on myself and this amazed me. I didn’t realize it still affects them as much as it does me, if not worse, and all I can think about is trying to reduce the risk of this time bomb going off in my body. A part of my decision was helped by watching my sister’s strength through her battles and my families unlimited amount of support, and watching the amazing women at the Pink Hope fun run that was held on the 2nd of March that my family and I participated in.
Thank you to my beautiful family and Pink Hope. I know I have a long stressful and emotional time ahead of me but I will be sure not to let this time bomb go off in me…