‘Kiss this cancer, it’s my body’

“So thankfully I’ve never had breast cancer. But, I have had both my breasts removed with a double mastectomy, and had them reconstructed. You might think that’s an extreme measure – but for me it’s not worth risking the alternative.

“I lost my mum to breast cancer when I was just three years old. Sadly, I have no memories of her, but I’ve since learnt all about her, and how amazing she was. Luckily, family friends, my Dad and my Grandma were all there to bring me up to be the person I am today.

“I knew a little about a gene that some people carry, that can show that you’re more likely to develop breast cancer, and I knew that before she died, my mum was sure that there was something present in our genes. She wanted me to be aware of this, and wanted to protect me, even though she wasn't here. Due to my family history, I was eligible to get tested for this gene. I went for the test, and it turns out that yes – I do carry the faulty BRCA1 gene, and they told me I had an 80% chance of developing breast cancer. It was probably one of the hardest days of my life.

“I had to do something about it – I couldn’t spend the rest of my life worrying when breast cancer was going to turn up, and I couldn't let my family go through that too. I had the opportunity to change my future and potentially save my life - a chance my mum didn't have, given her hard fight couldn't save her.

“In February 2016, after a tough year, I decided to take control of my own fate and I made the decision to have a preventative double mastectomy with full reconstruction. I was 22, and with my dad and my amazing boyfriend by my side, I knew I could do it. I am so grateful to have had them there throughout the whole experience. Sure, my new boobs aren’t the same as they were before, but I’d rather this than waiting the rest of my life for breast cancer to appear, and have to begin a cancer fight.

“It’s taken three operations to adjust them. Physically, I’ve made a full recovery now, and I’m really happy with the decisions I’ve made. I now spend my time trying to raise awareness of the genetic test that some, especially younger, women can take, and supporting others through the operation if they decide to have preventative surgery like I did. I will not let cancer destroy my, nor my family’s lives, any more than it has. Preventing it is the best way to kiss this, cancer, as far as I can see.”

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