My name is Sacha and I am 25 years old.
I am a New Zealander who is currently living and working in Australia. In the two short years I have lived abroad, my world as I knew it, has changed dramatically. It all started when my beautiful Aunty Lucy was diagnosed with breast cancer. This came as a massive shock because I had always considered us to be one of those ‘lucky’ families. You know the ones, the families that seem to have no incidence of cancer whatsoever. Naturally we were upset and concerned and so were the medical practitioners whom she dealt with during the early stages of her diagnosis. After genetic testing, it was found that she carried a BRCA1 mutation.
Following this test result, Lucy’s siblings (my father included) were tested for the same mutation. I still remember the phone call from my parents last year, they informed me that Dad had also tested positive for the mutation. This is one of the hardest conversations to ever have with your parents, but having it over the phone when you are both in different countries made it even harder.
I put this knowledge to the back of my mind as I knew this didn’t mean I definitely had the mutation, it simply meant that there was a chance I might carry it also (a 50% chance to be exact). It wasn’t long ago that I had studied biology in High School, I knew about dominant and recessive genes, I knew about punnet squares and how to predict the likelihood of offspring carrying specific traits. The only difference was I was no longer in high school looking at dominant and recessive eye and hair colour anymore. I now was a young woman, thinking about my own risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer in the future. Not to mention my father’s risk and possibly my brothers too (they are still waiting on their results).
From this point, I had months of appointments. Initially it was genetic counselling, then genetic testing, then a results appointment, then several ultrasounds, an MRI, a referral to a breast specialist, an appointment with a fertility clinic… You probably realised from reading that last sentence that I also received a positive result for the BRCA1 mutation along the way. During this time I was lucky enough to have the support of my fiancé, a visit from my Mum and many chats with my cousin who was going through exactly the same thing.
At present, I am on a wait list at Fiona Stanley Hospital in Perth. I am waiting for a preventative double mastectomy.
- I know what is involved in the process,
- I’ve heard about how uncomfortable expanders are,
- I am aware of how my implants are likely to look & feel but the decision I have made was a no-brainer for me.
A chance to preserve my life, yes please!