Tania's Story

"I knew in my mind I would have it"

My Mum had breast cancer in her early 40’s and then again in her lymph nodes a couple of years later. It was awful watching her find this out and going through the treatments twice. Luckily she had the strength to go through all of the treatments she needed to beat this and be around for me, my sisters and our children today over 10 years later.

After all of this happened I read somewhere about a genetic test you could get for two genes linked to breast and ovarian cancer - BRCA1 and BRCA2. I decided to see if I could get tested as I would rather know and do something about it.

When I got to the genetic office I found that there was already people from my mums side of the family on the genetic register for ovarian cancer, so because of that and the fact my mum had breast cancer so young I was able to be tested. First though my mum was tested to see if she had the gene, the test came back positive. Mum was worried about giving it to us, but as we said she had no idea and now (if we had it) we could do something about it. Next it was my turn, just a simple blood test then wait (2 months) for the results. I knew in my mind that I would have it, and when I went to get my results I was positive for the BRAC1 gene. My husband was awesome and was behind me whatever I decided to do.

That was about four years ago. My eldest sister had since had the test and it was negative so that was great. My next elder sister has had the test and hers has come back positive like mine, not so great news but now we know. I have had breast checks, mammograms and ultrasounds to check that I’m healthy. But now my husband and I have two gorgeous boys that we have added to our family, and it is time to get serious about this. I know a lot of people don’t want to know the information, but for me it’s easy, I have a loving husband and kids, I would do anything to be around for them for a long, long time. I don’t want them to have to watch me be so sick if I can help it at all.

Last year a genetic meeting came up in Wellington and my mum, sister and myself went to it to find out more about preventive mastectomies and reconstruction, it was very informative and helped my mum and sister understand why I wanted this and what would happen. I met a young woman with kids who had had the surgery. We have been in contact and she has been answering questions about surgery which has been great.

Now I have started the ball rolling with appointments to the breast surgeon who will do the mastectomy, and MRI and mammogram to check I am all healthy before the surgery. I’m also about to have a gynaecology appointment to see how we will monitor my ovaries and discuss having them out when am older.

Now I’m just waiting for what feels like the most important appointment, the one with the plastic surgeon to discuss what reconstruction he thinks will be best for me and explain the surgery to us. Then we wait for the surgery to actually happen.

I am scared of the surgery, but not everything else, I know it’s going to be a rough few weeks. When it’s done I know my body will look different, but they do amazing surgery now and my husband and family will be there every step of the way for me. They are the reason I’m doing it, it’s that simple.

I’m sure when it’s done there will be a big weight lifted off me...

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