HAYLEY ELLERY, 33, MUM TO SIENNA, 3 AND BENJI, 5 WEEKS (QLD)
A family history of cancer, including her mother passing away from the disease when she was only nine years old, prompted Hayley to undergo a test for the BRCA1 gene. Women who have this gene have a greatly increased chance of developing breast cancer. When Hayley tested positive for the gene, she was faced with the real possibility that she might not be around to see her daughter, Sienna, grow up. So she made the difficult decision to undergo a double mastectomy.
“I couldn’t bear my daughter living the life that I lived. It was quite hard but it’s been worth it,” she says. Although Hayley and her husband, Robert, live in rural Queensland, she chose to have surgery at St Vincent’s Hospital in Sydney, where her mother-in-law had undergone treatment for cancer. Robert and Sienna made a temporary base in Sydney and Hayley’s extended family also flew in from Melbourne to be with her.
Hayley spent her 32nd birthday in hospital recovering from the mastectomy and reconstructive surgery. “There are days when I look at myself and I don’t like what I see,” she says. “There are certain clothes I don’t wear. I’m more conservative.” But she has no doubts that it was the right decision for her and her kids – Sienna and new baby brother Benji.