My name is Natasha and this is my story.
My Pink Hope journey began when my oldest sister Vikki was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer. After a mastectomy and chemotherapy, Vikki went on to have genetic testing to find out that she carried the BRCA2 gene mutation. After several years of courageous fighting, multiple rounds of chemotherapy, radiotherapy and clinical trials she lost her battle and we laid her to rest on Bright Pink Lipstick Day 2013.
My sister was determined that nobody else in her family would have to go through this; she was okay with being the ‘fall guy’, but was determined to ensure that everyone was vigilant with their surveillance, testing and prevention.
Close to a year after Vikki passed away I booked into the Familial Cancer Clinic at Peter Mac to undergo testing. If I’m really honest I was doing the test so I could get my negative result and feel comfortable expanding my family (I already had a toddler) knowing I wasn’t carrying the gene defect. I guess I was kind of floored when the results came back positive. It’s so much easier to know what your plan of action is when you don’t think you will have to see it through. That said, I’m not the sort of person who could sit on that kind of information for too long without taking action, so within weeks of receiving my results I’d booked in my risk reducing surgery for March 2015.
I’d opted for a double mastectomy with nipple removal. For me if I was going to go to this extent to avoid cancer I wanted my odds to be as low as possible.
After some complications from the initial surgery I underwent several surgeries in the coming weeks as a result of an infection. I was unlucky enough to leave hospital with only one expander and had to wait six months to be fully rid of infection before I could go back and have my right breast reconstructed. I returned to hospital in August 2015 for a lat dorsi reconstruction and was blissfully grateful to have two breasts again! One side an implant, one side an expander.
During this time I had the privilege of connecting with so many Pink Hope women initially online and through the conference. Pink Hope and so many of its members have been such an amazing support during what has been a challenging time for me. I’ve found some true companions that I will always feel a connection to.
What was meant to be my final surgery in February 2016 was postponed because I unexpectedly found I was pregnant. With my second baby due in September I’m exited to be continuing what I would call a new phase of my journey, baby after BRCA.