A WOMAN who opted for a double mastectomy after being told she had an 80 per cent chance of developing breast cancer is now helping others facing the same ordeal.
Tracy Child, 31, of Gomersal had the elective surgery after being told she had the BRCA1 gene.
Both she and her sister had undergone tests to see if they had the rare gene, after several members of their family developed the disease.
“My grandmother had breast cancer at 47 and died aged 51. My mum got it when she was 36, fought it but it came back. She fought it again and it came back three years ago,” said Tracy.
“Thankfully she is now doing well again, but because my aunt also got breast cancer at 36, my sister and I were tested to see if we had the faulty gene.
“Last June I found out I did have it, though thankfully my sister did not, and straight away I knew I wanted preventative surgery.”
After extensive counselling, Tracy had a double mastectomy with reconstructive surgery in December, and because the BRCA1 gene means she also has a 40-60 per cent lifetime chance of getting ovarian cancer, she also chose to have a hysterectomy, which was carried out in June.
Tracy said the decision to have surgery was relatively easy once she knew she had the gene.
“I couldn’t sit round moping. It was a no-brainer, if I didn’t have the surgery I would definitely get breast cancer, and I would have spent every day thinking, is this the day I find a lump in my breast?” she said.
“A few people were concerned I might want to start a family, but the way I saw it was that if I did have children, the worry then would be that I’d pass the gene on to them.
“My husband Dean has been absolutely brilliant, and family and friends have been so incredibly supportive. I’ve also had lots of help from the National Hereditary Breast Cancer Helpline run by Wendy Watson and am now working with the charity to spread the word about hereditary cancer so people are aware they can be tested.
“Then if they have the faulty gene they can look at the options available to them, and the helpline is there for anyone with concerns about any cancer, though mainly breast or ovarian.
“I’ve never felt upset or frustrated, and have been open about what’s happened. My future is bright, whereas before I did not know what it would hold,” said Tracy.
The charity is holding a support group meeting on October 24 at 7pm at the Old Post Office, Barnsley, and on December 8 there is a fundraising night at the West End pub in Gomersal.
For more information visit www.breastcancergenetics.co.uk or call 01629 813000.