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‘I was BRCA tested as I wanted to be in the driving seat’

11 July 2016

Cath Chamberlain

Since testing positive for the BRCA gene mutation in 2013, Cath Chamberlin has had both breasts, her ovaries and her fallopian tubes removed. She shares her story...

"My mum beat breast cancer four years ago and sought out BRCA testing given a high frequency of breast, ovarian, skin and pancreatic cancer in her father (my grandad's) family.

Mum was found to be BRCA2 positive. I chose to be tested too as I wanted to know what my choices were and be in the driving seat. I tested positive for BRCA2 three years ago.

My sister also chose to be tested and does not carry the BRCA gene mutation and my brother has been advised not to test until he turns 40 in a couple of years’ time.

In December 2013 I had a double mastectomy and reconstruction and in November 2015 I had a salpingo-oophorectomy (my ovaries and fallopian tubes removed).

But this isn’t what defines me. I have three amazing children (the youngest, James, was born a month before I embarked upon this journey of discovery and action), and I live an active and full life without fear and foreboding.

I can’t say the path I have trodden has been easy or smooth. Highs have included meeting some amazing, highly-dedicated and talented surgeons, having a pair of ‘to die for boobs’ and, touch wood, swerving cancer.

Lows have included loss of control (particularly in relation to the salpingo-oophorectomy, which was reactive rather than proactive), fearing a lump in my right ovary might be cancerous, and adjusting to HRT (an ongoing process).

BUT (and it is a big BUT) I am here! I have survived with only a few small battle scars. I want to shout as loud as I can about my experience and share what I have learnt with other men and women who learn they are BRCA positive.

My mantra is: take control, be BRCA positive and live, laugh and love as if every day could be your last."

Would you like to find out more about BRCA gene mutations and inherited risk? Visit our BRCA hub for information, advice and support