CELEB STORY WILL save lives

Tracy Child is raising awareness of hereditary cancer. (d614a240)
Tracy Child is raising awareness of hereditary cancer. (d614a240)

Hollywood star Angelina Jolie’s decision to undergo a double mastectomy will save countless lives.

That’s the claim of a Gomersal woman who underwent the same operation last year after she discovered she also had the BRCA1 gene – and now counsels other woman facing the same ordeal.

Angelina Jolie

Angelina Jolie

Tracy Child, 32, of Gomersal, had surgery in June 2011 when she found she had the faulty gene, meaning she had an 80 per cent chance of developing breast cancer.

This week Jolie went public over her operation and her decision has been hailed across the world.

Tracy, who now works for the National Hereditary Breast Cancer Helpline, says the star’s decision to talk about her experience will help save the lives of many women who might not have heard about BRCA1.

“It’s amazing she has spoken out about it. It will definitely help to save lives – and she is so positive about it.

“I have always seen it as a positive thing to have preventative surgery. A lot of worry for women is how they are going to feel and how their partner is going to be about it, so it’s an added bonus she has had that support from her partner Brad Pitt.”

Tracy and her sister were tested after her grandmother, mother and aunt all developed the disease. Her sister did not have the gene.

She said: “Once I knew I had the gene I decided to have the mastectomy straightaway. It was the obvious decision. There are other options like monitoring but it would prey on my mind.”

Tracy, who was also told she had a 40-60 per cent chance of developing ovarian cancer, had a hysterectomy last June.

During her operations she found support from the National Hereditary Breast Cancer Helpline and as well as working for them now, she also helps out in the charity’s shop in Chesterfield.

She said: “Since Angelina said she had the gene, there have been so many more calls to the helpline. The way she has spoken about it and been so positive is excellent.”