Over the last seven years, Aimi had preventative surgeries to lower her chances of being diagnosed with breast and ovarian cancer. She shares why she chose to have surgery and at the times she did, and how the decisions she made were right for her and her plans for a family.
7th September 2017 was the day I said “goodbye” to the last of my womanly parts. The day I lost my womb, cervix, ovaries, Fallopian tubes. Like the day I had my mastectomy in 2013, I try to remember that day not with sadness but with reflection. Do not get me wrong, it’s hard. It is difficult to forget the nerves I felt and the feelings of grief, but now I try to concentrate on the reasons for going through what I have in the last seven years. For life.
Before I had my daughter in 2016, my partner and I had to have serious talks about eggs, embryos, genetics, percentages, options, surgeries. It was draining. We had only been together a year and half, but due to my “situation” we had to, in a sense, speed up that part of our relationship. I think that’s the part of BRCA that I hadn’t even thought about – how it could affect other aspects of your life. It’s not just a case of having surgeries and that be it. There’s the emotional aspect of it all, the psychological impact, the physical stuff. However, we are blessed to have our daughter, we really are. Having a child is a gift not a given.
I had my hysterectomy and BSO in 2017. Some might say I rushed, but when you carry a faulty gene that can turn your life upside down and back to front, you are constantly worrying. Any small pain, any bloating, anything abnormal, you become obsessed, well I did.
Not everyone requires a full hysterectomy but I knew some of the women in my family had been affected by womb cancer. So, in a sense I panicked. I was terrified that this genetic bombshell would yet again take over my life.
I don’t regret my decision to have the full hysterectomy at all but I do wonder if I maybe had time to wait before I was pushed into the world of HRT and menopause.
"I miss the old Me but the new one is brave and strong"Aimi Munro
I started on HRT pretty much straight away. The day after I was experiencing tingling in my face and hands and my god the hot flushes. There I was, age 34 feeling like a 50-year-old. It’s amazing how a simple keyhole surgery can alter your whole person. I am not the same Aimi I was before the hysterectomy. I am irritable, I’m constantly stressed, I’m anxious, I’m sore walking up and down stairs, I have no sex drive half of the time, I have hair and skin as dry as a bone – I sound like a delight don’t I!
But do you know what? I am here and I have met many people who have not had the opportunity to prevent a cancer diagnosis. That has taught me to be extremely grateful. I miss the old Me but the new one is brave and strong (be it a little more ragey than before!).
I grieve for many things - my mum, my grandmother, my breasts, my child bearing womb, the knowledge that I cant have any more children. I even grieve for my periods (never thought I’d ever say that!). And I have had to learn that it is OK for me to upset and angry about these things.
When you carry a faulty gene mutation there is a 50% chance that you could pass this onto your children. Over the years my decision to have a child knowing I carry this mutation has been met with some contempt. But the way I see it, my daughter will grow up with me by her side, supporting her through any decisions she has to make. Something I did not and do not have.
Carrying a faulty BRCA gene is not the end, it is an opportunity to prevent, and a chance to live.
There are no right or wrong decisions when it comes to managing your risk of cancer. If, when or how you take action is a personal choice. Take the time to find out as much as possible and make the best decision for you and your family. Visit our Hereditary Hub for more information.