‘Mum’s an in­spi­ra­tion’

Woman (UK) - - Telling It Like It Is -

The day af­ter mum’s mas­tec­tomy I went to visit her in hospi­tal. She’d warned me she might look a lit­tle dif­fer­ent, but apart from a few wires and a flat­ter chest, she was still mum.

I was too young to un­der­stand how unique her de­ci­sion had been. But a year later, keen to raise aware­ness of pre­ven­ta­tive mas­tec­tomies, Mum’s story hit the head­lines. That’s when teach­ers would come to me in the play­ground, gush­ing about how in­cred­i­ble she was. And that’s when I started to re­alise that I may have to fol­low in her foot­steps. If Mum was a car­rier of the BRCA1 mu­ta­tion, it was likely I would be too.

I knew if I was, I’d have to take ac­tion – but bring­ing my­self to have the test was still nerve-rack­ing. I put it off as long as I could, but by 22, when my cousin was di­ag­nosed, I knew I couldn’t wait any longer. The risk of de­vel­op­ing breast can­cer only in­creased as I got older.

When the re­sults came back pos­i­tive, Mum felt guilty. I held back my tears as I ex­plained that if it wasn’t for her, I may never have been able to have the test any­way.

Un­like when Mum had her surgery, I was of­fered ex­ten­sive coun­selling. And, I’d be able to have a re­con­struc­tion at the same time as my breasts were re­moved. I had my surgery in Jan­uary 2006 – at the time, I was thought to be the youngest per­son in the UK to have a pre­ven­ta­tive mas­tec­tomy.

From that day, I rarely thought about can­cer. I met my hus­band Alex in Septem­ber 2011, and we had our daugh­ter, Eva May, two years later.

We kept her sex a sur­prise, but I re­ally wasn’t wor­ried when we had a girl. I knew that, thanks to my Mum’s ac­tions, Eva May could get tested. I like to think that med­i­cal ad­vances mean that she’ll have even more op­tions when she gets older.

Now, I’m preg­nant with my sec­ond baby, and af­ter I give birth, I’ll also con­sider hav­ing my ovaries re­moved.

But for now, Eva May is four years old, and she adores her grandma. It’s the first time in decades that three gen­er­a­tions of women in my fam­ily have been alive at the same time. And that’s all thanks to Mum and her brave ac­tions.

What she did hasn’t just changed my life, and that of my daugh­ter’s, it’s helped women across the world.

‘i put off The Test as long as i could’

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