My name’s Miranda and this is my story.
I am nearly 38yrs old, and I live in Wollongong NSW with my partner and our 2yr old daughter, with another little girl on the way.
I lost my Mum to breast cancer when I was 11. She was way taken from us way too young, passing away at the age of 41, after fighting for many years prior. The loss of your Mum is a loss you never recover from. Time does heal, however nothing will fill that void in your life. I then lost my Nan to breast cancer a few years later.
I was diagnosed with BRCA1 when I was 18yrs old. This was long before it was as known as what it is today- long before Angelina.
It was my Aunty (mum’s sister), that first spoke to me about genetic testing. Again, little was known, but she had discovered that she had the gene. And once tested, I was with her. I was diagnosed with the gene young, and at the time, there felt like was little to no support for someone like me. I left to travel the world and came back to Australia, many years later, after losing my beautiful Aunt, also to cancer.
It was at that point I was ready to act on my diagnosis.It had wiped out most of the women in my life and I was determined to not be the next. At the age of 26, I opted for a prophylactic bilateral mastectomy with reconstruction. That time in my life is still hazy, I was on a mission. A mission to not be another member of our family lost to cancer. To not be someone to await what seemingly felt like my fate. I didn’t want to succumb to a statistic.
My decision for surgery, albeit the hardest decision in my life to date, was the right one. It was a long journey back after surgery, the recovery physically and emotionally was tough. It has taken me many, many years to be comfortable in my own skin again.
That was nearly 12 years ago now. Looking back, I didn’t have anywhere close to the support that I wish I had. And the support I believe everyone should have, in this type of journey. I muddled through and kept telling myself that I had made the right decision. But ultimately, it was that decision that has enabled me, to be around for longer. I will have a better chance to be able to watch my daughters grow up, something my Mum didn’t get to do.
One day, my girls will be tested for the gene, they will be aware. They will know their risk. As I believe everyone should. But the difference being, they will know their risk, in a community of individuals, that support, educate, that love, and that hold each other up high.