October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and to commemorate it, WeAreTheCity will be profiling a variety of different women who all carry the BRCA1 or 2 gene mutation.
These mutations give the carrier a 75 per cent chance of developing breast or ovarian cancers. It is a hereditary gene, which can be passed down through the male line, as well as the female.
Angelina Jolie famously had this surgery a couple of years ago but the National Hereditary Breast Cancer Helpline say that the message still hasn’t really filtered down to the public yet.
One in 200 people carry a fault in a high risk gene that predisposes them to an increased risk of developing breast, ovarian or prostate cancer.
The hope from these articles is to give a spotlight to these incredible women and to raise awareness of the BRCA gene mutations.
Fiona, 44, is from Staffordshire.
She has a beautiful, 19 year-old daughter and a very supportive partner. She works full time for YSL cosmetics.
She has a strong family structure and lives next door to her parents. Fiona is a happy-go-lucky person and has a great outlook on life.
Her mother, three aunts, two cousins and now her daughter all have the BRCA 2 gene mutation.
How did you find out that you had the BRCA gene?
I found out about the BRCA genes in October 2014 – nine months after my mom had breast cancer.
How have you coped with the challenges that you’ve faced since?
I feel I have coped the best I can do.
However, some days can feel better than others, but maybe that’s the hormone level?
What support have you received? Do you have a strong support network of friends, family etc. or have you been supported by other networks?
I’ve received a huge amount of support – my family and friends are truly amazing. My consultants at The Walsall Manor Hospital continue to offer great support too.
I’m linked with many support networks, which are always there for you.
How did you become involved with the campaign for Breast Cancer Awareness Month?
I became involved by joining The National Hereditary Breast Cancer Helpline. We had an opportunity to help by raising awareness linked with Anita Lingerie. I’ve played a great role with in the making of a journal, which will be given to BRCA /cancer patients and our stories will be published in the journal.
Angelina Jolie famously had risk-reducing surgery – how important was it that she told the world?
This was extremely important, for a known celebrity to show it can happen to anyone.
How important is it for people to see women who’ve had mastectomies in the public domain?
It’s very important for people to see – people need to be made more aware.
What do you hope to achieve from the campaign?
If I can just make one person aware, just one life is saved.
That’s my goal.
What else do you think could be done to raise awareness of the BRCA genes? Should the government/NHS be doing more?
It just needs to be out there more!
Having a BRCA gene month, TV and media campaigns would help too.
How can other people worried about the BRCA genes get the help and support they need?
There’s lots of groups to join, I’m joining new support groups each week. My family are a great support to me.
At the hospital, the level of counselling is high and available, if you need it.
Do you have any advice for anyone going through a similar thing?
Its easier to say because I’m the other side now, but please do not be afraid! You will be completely looked after.
Join groups to talk to and ask lots of questions.
Do not bottle things up!
Anita Care have sponsored the National Hereditary Breast Cancer helpline to produce a journal featuring twelve real women who have had risk reducing mastectomies. The journal will be on sale from 1 October 2017, priced at £9.99 with all proceeds going to the helpline.
You can purchase the journal here.