Breast cancer has been a common diagnosis in our family for many years. My mother, grandmothers (from both my mother’s and father’s side) and several other family members have bravely battled breast cancer. I am beyond thankful to my beautiful Mother who took the first steps in understanding our family’s risk by undertaking genetic testing after beating breast cancer in 2010.
My risk was something my younger self had avoided thinking about as much as possible, I just wasn’t ready to face it. Though, the truth was, ignoring something that was almost always at the back of my mind was near impossible. I figured, ignoring it wasn’t going to change my risk, and the fear of the unknown terrified me. In February 2018 I booked my first consult with a genetic doctor and counsellor. It was an emotional decision but in June 2018, I went ahead with genetic testing. At age 22 with the support of my Mother and partner we were told that I too carry the BRCA2 gene mutation. Certainly, it was not the news we had hoped for but in fact the daunting news I had prepared myself for several months prior.
Initially my reaction was fear and anxiety, I thought my life would be different. And it was different, but I also quickly realised, after discovering Pink Hope that I was far from alone and that in fact I had already taken the first steps to taking control of my health. Pink Hope has been an essential part of my support system – as I learn more and better understand my risk, attend their events and connect with some amazing people. Pink Hope also inspired and has given me the confidence to begin sharing my story which has been incredibly empowering and allowed me to see that I am braver than I thought. I am so thankful for the work that Pink Hope does and am beyond excited to be giving back to them by hosting my first fundraising event in May this year.
Despite having the BRCA2 gene mutation, I am healthy and extremely grateful to have the knowledge and power to understand my risk, create awareness, be more vigilant, know my options and have the support of the Pink Hope community.
A message from Ashleigh
I believe that whatever decision you choose throughout your journey, do it for yourself and the ones you love. Take control of your own health, take on as many opportunities that come your way, surround yourself with positive and supportive people, be kind and show love (you never know what someone else is going through), live life to the fullest and do more of the things that make you happy!