I was diagnosed BRCA 1 in 2012 aged 18, after my paternal grandmother passed away in 2009, having fought various cancers over the years starting with breast cancer aged 32. During her long battle with cancer my grandmother opted to be part of a research programme and it was then she discovered she was BRCA 1. I always knew as soon as I was old enough to be tested, I wanted to know either way. A decision I have never regretted despite the positive result. Being the first person in the family to be tested, even with the incredible support from my now husband and family, I felt without any female relatives who knowingly had the gene I had so many questions. What really is BRCA? What does it mean for me? What do I do now? I soon established there are very limited options for somebody of such a young age. I felt in limbo and wanted to know everything there was to know about BRCA, surveillance and the surgical options.
I was incredibly fortunate to meet the late Caroline Langman who invited me along to a support group meeting. It provided such a huge support network and knowledge you really wouldn’t find anywhere else. It was here that I met Elizabeth and subsequently started attending the BRCA Kent support group meetings. In the beginning I found it difficult to properly process the fact I was too young to do anything about my diagnosis, despite having already decided I would like preventative surgery. Attending the support group meetings, understanding the surgeries and what was involved really helped me come to terms with the fact for the next 10 years, if not longer, I needed to follow my dreams and enjoy life. There was no need to rush into such a huge life changing decision.
Earlier this year I was very honoured to be asked to play a more active part in the group. I am extremely passionate about supporting other women and hope together we can continue to spread the word and support the ladies of Kent.