Swimming For A Cause: Kirstie Johnson
I have no boobs. Well, I do but just not the ones I was born with.
Why? Because I chose to the have them removed (yes, just like Angelina Jolie). I am now ready to take on my next life challenge. Here is my story….
My grandmother died of Breast Cancer at the age of 48. In 2012 at age 57, my father fought and won a courageous battle with breast cancer. This history led my father to be genetically tested and subsequently diagnosed with the BRCA2 gene. With a 50% chance of my father passing this mutated gene to his children, I decided that I should be tested.
At the age of 25, I was diagnosed with the BRCA2 gene mutation. This result changed my life forever.
A few statistics I was given with this result were:
· Chances of Breast Cancer increased from 12% to 72%.
· Chances of Ovarian cancer increased from 1.3% to 44%.
· My children would have a 50% chance of inheriting the mutated gene as well.
At the time my only thought was “why me, this isn’t fair”.
Once I accepted that this was my reality, I decided to undergo a bilateral prophylactic mastectomy and breast reconstruction to reduce my risk of breast cancer by 90%. I believed this was the right decision for me, however, I still struggled with many unanswered questions:
· Will the surgery be a success?
· What will my breasts look like?
· Will I lose my female identity?
· Will people view me any differently?
· Am I mentally strong enough for this?
The procedure involved two operations and took 6 months to complete. Two years on and I am doing incredibly well with no complications. I am proud to have become a ‘first home buyer’, tested my endurance in a 104 km kayaking challenge and recently traveled to the USA on a 5-week adventure.
In September 2019, I will attempt to swim solo across the English Channel – a total of 32 kilometres (depending on the current). This crossing should take me anywhere between 10 to 16 hours. I was inspired by a colleague who successfully crossed the Channel over two years ago and decided this was something I wanted to try, however, I had to put my dream on hold after my BRCA diagnosis/surgery. But now, there’s no stopping me. My training has already commenced and will intensify over the next 18 months.
My aim with this swim challenge is to raise as much money as I can to support a little-known organisation named ‘Pink Hope’. I came across ‘Pink Hope’ as I scrambled to gather as much information as possible upon learning I had the BRCA gene. This amazing organisation has helped and supported me through my BRCA journey and I want to thank them from the bottom of my heart.
Thanks so much for your support and I can’t wait to share this exciting journey with you!
Donate to Kirstie’s efforts!
Through this link, you can easily support her efforts by making a secure donation! DONATE HERE!
All donations over $2 are tax deductible and you will be issued with a DGR receipt via email as soon as you make a donation.