My name is Sarah. This is my story.
I was diagnosed with breast cancer in August 2006 when I was 29 years old. It was a big shock as I have no other family members who have had breast or ovarian cancer so it was assumed that my cancer was just unlucky not genetic. I had an aggressive type of breast cancer called triple negative and had to undergo chemotherapy and radiotherapy. I finished treatment in March 2007 just after my 30th birthday.
Once that was all over I was told not to get pregnant for 2 years, as my chance of a relapse was much higher in that time. In April 2007, I found out I was pregnant! It honestly wasn’t planned but I suppose because I had been told that chemo may stop me being fertile (we even froze embryos as a backup) we just were a little careless! For my husband and I it was a great ending to a not so great year and our daughter Mikayla was born in December, just over a year from my initial diagnosis.
Once Mikayla was 6 months old I started to think about whether I did have a genetic mutation. I did some research and found out that women with BRCA mutations often come from Ashkenazi Jewish backgrounds and are diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer (my family on my Dad’s side are Jewish). I went to Peter MacCallum for counselling and testing and found out a few months later that I have a BRCA1 mutation. We believe the reason I am the first one in my family to show any sign of the mutation is due to my Dad’s family being very small and my Dad’s siblings never having their own children.
I found out about my mutation at the end of 2008 yet it took until I had a check-up in a year later to realise that I was just a ticking time bomb. With my odds of getting breast cancer again as high as 40-60%, I was crazy to think that screening is adequate. At that check-up, they found a lump they wanted to biopsy and while I was waiting for the results I made my mind up to get a mastectomy. Thankfully that lump was benign and I had a bilateral mastectomy and reconstruction in 2010.
Since I am also at high risk of ovarian cancer we decided to try for another baby so I could start thinking about removing my fallopian tubes and ovaries. It took a while and a bit of help due to the damage chemotherapy had done to my eggs but my son Jackson was born in October 2012.
In 2013 I had my fallopian tubes removed and in 2015 my ovaries to help reduce my risk of ovarian cancer. I recently celebrated my 10 year cancerversary and 40th birthday which were both very exciting milestones for me and my family!
I feel lucky that even though I had breast cancer at a young age, I have still managed to have 2 beautiful children. I have a very supportive husband who has always been there for me and has helped me through 12 surgeries in the past 10 years. I have no family here in Australia, my Dad passed away when I was 20 and my Mum died in 2013 from Lymphoma. My brother and sister live in London and my husband’s family live on the Gold Coast so it’s been challenging for us however we have some great friends here in Melbourne who help us out.
I now organise a fun run every year called Run for Hope, www.runforhope.com.au, to help raise funds and awareness for Pink Hope.
Ever since I found out about my BRCA1 mutation, Pink Hope have been there for me and my family and I know that whatever happens in the future, when my children are old enough to be tested, Pink Hope will be there for them too.