I carry a genetic mutation on my BRCA1 gene that puts me at a high risk of a number of cancers that are traditionally aggressive, difficult to treat or detect. Breast and ovarian cancers are two of the more well-known of these.
I first heard about the likelihood of a genetic component to my family’s history of cancers from my mum in about 1999. I’ve always taken a proactive approach to managing my health, so since then, I’ve spoken to many doctors, sought out expert advice, and undergone a considerable number of scans, tests, and check-ups. My goal has always been to manage my risk, to live as well as I can for as long as I can. I see this as the debt I owe to those who have gone before me, and who I know would have given anything for that same option.
I’m not from Australia, so I joined Pink Hope in about 2013 to help me navigate the healthcare system here. After years of self-managing (and funding) surveillance procedures, in 2016 I finally completed a bilateral mastectomy, reconstruction, and salpingo-oophorectomy. This means my risk of developing cancer is now, overall, approximately in line with the general population.
A message from Sarah
What I have found most difficult about living with a BRCA1 mutation has not been the surgeries or the anxiety: it’s been having to fight all the time, for access to relevant, evidence-based information, for affordable and judgement-free healthcare, for understanding and compassion. Thankfully, things are changing as people become more aware of family health risks. Pink Hope plays an important role in that change, and I look forward to seeing it continue to do so.
My focus these days is to model for my daughter that living well is a choice we can re-commit to each day in a hundred small ways, regardless of what the future holds.