Elizabeth Leech

How it all started

Back in October 2008, at the age of 41, I discovered that I had inherited the BRCA2 mutation from my mother, who was suffering from ovarian cancer.  Little was known about the gene from the patient's perspective back then, and there was little support available outside the hospital environment. As I had completed my family, I decided to have risk-reducing surgery and opted for a hysterectomy in April 2009, followed by a skin-sparing bilateral mastectomy with reconstruction in November 2009.  I felt incredibly lucky that I had found out that I carried the gene, and could do something positive about it.  I was also in the privileged position of being married to a hospital consultant, who could explain things in a simple way to me and could get the best advice off his colleagues on certain topics, ie, HRT options.
Although I was fully supported by my husband, immediate family and close friends, I still felt isolated as nobody really knew what I was going through and how I was feeling.  This is when I started to think of ways that I could help other women in the same situation as me.  I knew that I had come through my surgery relatively smoothly and thought I could offer other women some useful tips.  At this time, I received a call off a friend who told me that she knew of a lady who was in the same situation as I had been in and asked if I could talk to her and try and comfort and reassure her - that lovely lady was Jo Considine.  Since that day, I have met up with many ladies to share my experiences and to help them get through their BRCA journeys, usually round my kitchen table with a cup of tea.  I have met some wonderful people along the way, many of whom have become great friends.
In November 2015, I linked up with one of my husband's colleagues, Miss Anne Henderson (Consultant Gynaecologist & HRT Expert), to organise a BRCA Awareness Day for local health practitioners and patients living in Kent.  From listening to people's experiences over the years, I realised that there was a lack of information for health practitioners, especially GP's on all the various topics surrounding the BRCA gene.  Everyone was astounded by the amount of interest we received and the fantastic numbers in attendance on the day.  It was certainly apparent that there was a great need for a local support group in Kent, and this is when it was decided to formalise a support group independent of any NHS Trust.
Anne and I have managed to rope Jo into coming on board and she has been working extremely hard on creating this wonderful website for us all.  She has also been responsible for the amazing Facebook group which she set up in 2014, a truly professional avenue of support for local BRCA patients.  Jo also helps me run the BRCA Kent support group meetings, which are held on a monthly basis at KIMS Hospital.
Like Jo, I am also a fully-trained volunteer for Breast Cancer Care's initiative "Someone Like Me".
We are all excited about the future of BRCA Kent, and hope that you enjoy being part of our family and sharing your BRCA journeys with us.

A special thanks to Macmillan, Whitehead Monckton Charitable Foundation, and Rotary Maidstone Dawn Patrol whose grants and donations have supported our group.