Chloe & Jade (aged 29 & 28)
We are BRCA1+ sisters in our twenties and we have undergone mastectomies within seven months of each other. Here are our stories…….
Chloe – I’m a busy mum of two beautiful children and currently work in Adult Education at a Forensic Mental Health Hospital in Somerset, England. My BRCA journey started back in 2009 at the age of 19; just six weeks into my first year of University, along with my father, Aunt and sister, Jade. It was confirmed that we were all BRCA 1 carriers after quite a shocking family history of breast cancer and prostate cancer spanning over five generations. Being so young, Jade and I were told time and time again that we’d “have nothing to worry about for a long time” but preventative surgery has always been at the forefront of our minds.
In 2011, I became pregnant. I panicked. I was going to risk passing on this gene when I could put a stop to it. What should I do? So I called the genetics centre to ask for their advice as they had talked about how the latest technology could now test embryos for the BRCA. I was advised that I could have the embryo tested on the grounds that I had an abortion afterwards (regardless of the result), as it wasn’t my human right to know the results. Confusion, distress and guilt were only the beginning as to how I felt but myself and my partner decided not to go ahead with the embryo testing and we couldn’t have been happier at becoming parents for the first time.
In March this year at the age of 28, I underwent preventative surgery and had a skin-sparring double mastectomy with Braxon reconstruction. And when I hit 30, I plan to get the ball rolling for a preventative hysterectomy.
Jade – I work as a Clinical Supervisor for a leading Optical company, in Somerset too and I live with my ever supporting husband and our gorgeous dog, Roo. Like Chloe, my BRCA journey began in 2009 and I was 18 years old. As well as being BRCA1+, I have lived with Type 1 diabetes since I was just 10 months old, being the youngest person on record in the UK with Type 1 diabetes at the time of my diagnoses back in 1992.
However, my journey took a very different turn in 2018 after suffering a miscarriage and very soon after, finding a lump in my right breast. My GP didn’t hesitate to refer me to the breast clinic at my local hospital where I was seen within a fortnight. Everything seemed to spiral downwards very, very quickly; from having numerous biopsies, to being told the words “you have breast cancer”, and then having a double mastectomy and reconstruction – all within an eight week period.
Things couldn’t get any worse, right? A secondary lump was discovered inside my breast tissue that was triple negative cancer and a different cancer from the primary lump that had been discovered. I was then left with the decision regarding treatments, but being a type 1 diabetic adds a few more complications to such things. The surgeons were confident that they’d removed all harmful tissue but the oncologist insisted that I had treatment as a precaution.
After seeking a second opinion and with the possibility of me losing my limbs due to the complications of chemotherapy and radiotherapy with diabetes, I decided not to go ahead with treatment and I am pleased to say that I am officially six months cancer free!