For as long as I can remember, cancer has been a subject present in my life. When I was five, my mum was diagnosed with Breast Cancer, and then again when I was fifteen. It was around this time when we were aware that my mum carried the BRCA1 gene. My mum told both my sister and myself that we had a high chance of carrying this gene too. As a teenager, the enormity of this information didn’t really hit home.
When I turned 22, the conversation of genes came up again and my sister and I decided that we would both get tested. Luckily for us, due to my mum having been tested previously, the genetic counsellors were able to test our genes for the exact mutation our mum has.
The genetic counsellors at the Royal Adelaide Hospital were so amazing. They made me feel so comfortable and relaxed. They took the time to explain to me exactly what the BRCA1 gene is, and how, if I test positive, this will increase my risk of Breast and Ovarian Cancer.
After a few weeks, I received a phone call from the genetic counsellor explaining to me that I carried the same gene as my mum. The news hit me hard in the moment, but thanks to my amazing support crew, my mum, my husband and my sister, I was able to gather up my courage and not allow this diagnosis to define me.
Now that I am aware of my increased risk, I can be more vigilant in getting regular check-ups.
I now visit a breast surgeon annually, and I have a full future plan to try and reduce my likelihood of having cancer. For anyone in the same situation as me, I believe that knowing your risk is important.
This isn’t a life sentence. This is a medical heads up, so you can be more aware.
The idea of getting genetically tested can be scary, but having the support of your family really helps you through. I feel so lucky that I have some amazing people in my life, who I know will support me through whatever comes in the future.