Since 11, I lived with the two words, 'breast cancer'. I was very close to my nanna, who was diagnosed then and began her battle to live. She died two years later.
Some years later it was mum's turn. The lump was discovered early enough for her to recover relatively quickly. But she worried about the other breast and decided to have it removed. Mum is now the happiest and healthiest she's been in her life.
When mum donated her healthy breast to KConFab research my journey began. After her genetic test results came through, the rest of the family was asked to participate. I decided I would. I took the decision to be part of research quite flippantly as my life was so busy raising two teenagers and working full-time.
I received counselling to alert me to the feelings I could encounter and the options available should I carry the mutation.
More counselling, then the news that I, too, had the BRCA2 mutation. Only snippets of that meeting are in my memory. My husband attended with me, and later filled in the blanks.
When I told mum, she cried. She said she was so sorry and felt so guilty.
But I feel that in donating her breast to research, mum gave me a wonderful opportunity to manage my future. So many advancements in research are being made that I'm confident one day there'll be options for my daughter if she's a carrier.
These days, I'm not so afraid of the words, 'breast cancer'. Knowledge is power! Thanks mum.