Member of the Month – January

06 Feb 2018 by Krystal Barter

Michelle´s Story
I have no idea if anyone really wants to know or can relate to my story but here it is anyway. September 2015 my older (18months) sister came home early from an around Australia family trip and told my mum and I that she has cancer. At that stage, the doctors had found the secondary lump under her arm but didn’t know where the primary lump is or was. She was due to have more tests performed that week. That’s pretty much where my boring, ordinary life went into a tail spin. All those unanswerable questions came to mind, ie what caused it, where did it come from and so on. At that point, there was absolutely no question of any family history of cancer. My mum’s brother’s wife had passed away a few years earlier from breast cancer (no blood relation to us) but that was it. I was told by my doctors “go have your tests (mammogram, MRI, ultrasound) done, just to be sure”. My sister’s doctors told her that her cancer “was not the genetic type” so mum and I shouldn’t be too concerned.

Mum and I continued on with life as per normal, we did have to sit by and watch my sister endure 6 bouts of chemo, surgery and then 6 bouts of radiation, the tests she had done earlier showed the primary lump in her left breast. Tiny it was but the secondary lump was in her lymph nodes. The surgery was to have most of her lymph nodes removed as the lump in her breast had shrunk to nothing after the double doses of chemo she had done. The doctors gave her extra, their reasoning “you are so young and fit”. She was 48 at the time.

December 2015 her doctors changed their mind and that her tumour was the genetic type so tested her for the BRCA mutation. Bang BRCA 1 Positive. WTF !! I was tested, mum was tested. My worst nightmare, I tested positive, phew mum tested negative. No, this is not happening. I was told by the doctors “you will need to have your ovaries out and a double mastectomy”. Nooo, you are NOT taking anything off or out of me, this is not happening to me. Dad tested to positive for BRCA 1. Thanks, dad you left us when we were little and now once again you have broken our little hearts. After an MRI in August 2016, I was undergoing a lumpectomy. I have now just had a double mastectomy and am absolutely heartbroken. My much-valued ovaries will most likely be next.

At the moment my sister is all clear but her doctors are encouraging her to have a double mastectomy as well. We were both the same age (48 at diagnosis) and had tumours in the left breast, hers triple negative and mine HR2 positive. We can only find 4 generations on my dad’s side but no long living females (passed away from other issues). This god damn disease is now in my family.

I have since had the privilege to be able to meet and chat to some strong, brave and amazing ladies through Pink Hope, you have all done a fantastic job with giving strength and support, it’s a bittersweet thing to belong to such a great group.

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