Thursday, 29 October 2015

Breast cancer awareness month: So my boobs are trying to kill me...

Author: Katie

I'll start my story on a hot summer's day in July 2014. I'd gone alone to my appointment at Broomfield Hospital's Breast Clinic as I wasn't feeling too concerned about my results. As Emma, the genetic counsellor, delivered the results that I had tested positive for the BRCA2 gene mutation I didn't really know how to react. In fact it's taken nearly a year to know how I feel about it enough to start this blog.

For me, being told I have the BRCA2 gene mutation feels a bit like a half-diagnosis. Yes it does mean that I have an 86% chance of developing breast cancer and over a 40% chance of developing ovarian cancer but day-to-day it doesn't actually change anything. I'm not ill. I'm not sick. I don't have cancer. I don't want sympathy and ultimately the only thing that has changed is my knowledge of my risk, which I now view as an incredibly good thing. 

I think my family's history with breast cancer is a big reason for my lack of panic over my diagnosis. My half-sister was diagnosed in 2010 aged just 30 and a year later my Mum was diagnosed aged 48. Both went through gruelling surgeries, chemotherapy and radiotherapy and suffered greatly through their battles with the disease but happily both are now safety in remission. I think that seeing both my half-sister and Mum survive breast cancer it means to me that I don't automatically view it as a death sentence, although I do realise there are many who aren't as lucky.  

The Jolie Gene

Google 'BRCA' or 'breast cancer gene' and you'll undoubtedly find hundreds of articles on Angelina Jolie. I love Angelina and admire greatly what she has done to raise awareness. She's gorgeous, strong and positive but she's hardly someone you can call up for a chat and discuss her fears about Brad seeing her post-mastectomy body. That's one of the reasons why I'm writing this blog.

I hope that by putting my feelings, thoughts and fears out there I help someone else going through the same thing. I'm 27, I'm a bit vain, I have a good career, I'm worried what I'll look like in a bikini after my surgery, will it affect my sex-life, will today be the day I feel a lump, will I still feel feminine? I don't have all the answers but if my blog brings a smile to just one person going through something similar then that would make me so happy.

Fight like a girl

Over a year on from my news and I'm actually feeling very positive. 1000 women a month die from breast cancer in the UK alone and I'm very lucky that I have been given this warning. I have a choice to save my life before I'm even diagnosed and for that reason I will be undergoing a full double mastectomy by the end of the year.

Cancer is such a horrible spiteful illness and makes us all feel powerless. The fact that I have a choice makes me feel so empowered. I'm one of the lucky ones and I'm going to fight this like a girl. 

You can follow Katie’s journey through her full blog here:

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Write for the blog! This blog is one of a series being shared on the Young Women's Breast Cancer Blog UK during October, breast cancer awareness month, but the blog is here year round. If you are a young woman in the UK who has/had a breast cancer diagnosis and you would like to be a part of this blog, please have a read of the additional information here.

Check your breasts
Breast cancer can happen to any of us - regardless of age. Information about how to check your breasts can be found on the Coppafeel and Breast Cancer Now websites.
Further information and support:
Younger Breast Cancer Network UK - an online chat and support group for women under the age of 45 in the UK who have had a breast cancer diagnosis.
Baldly Beautiful - a YouTube channel with make up demonstrations, created by Mac makeup artist Andrea Pellegrini who went through chemo herself in 2014.
Take A Moment - This is a group for women (all ages) who have/had breast cancer who want to explore, reflect on and express their feelings and experiences through photography. This is a link to the public page - to join the group, send them a message.
The Osborne Trust - Providing children of parents with cancer the opportunity to access time out recreational activities whilst their parents undergo operations and treatments
Jen's Friends - Free heart-shaped pillows for women (and men) with Breast Cancer. Designed to provide comfort and protection after a Mastectomy operation.

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