Carrie's aunt Sonia was 47 when she passed away in 2014, after being diagnosed with stage 4 ovarian Cancer in 2010.
“Never did we think that less than six months after the ‘all clear’ we would lose the life of such an amazing woman. Sonia fought hard but in the end her bowel became obstructed and there was little that could be done other than to make her comfortable.
Sonia’s journey opened so many doors for the rest of our family. After her diagnosis and the passing of her dad, who was diagnosed with prostate cancer, she was given the opportunity to be tested for genetic mutations. The results showed that she had the BRCA2 gene mutation.
Her brother and six sisters could now all have the simple blood test to see if they carried the same mutated gene. Two of her sisters, one being my mum, had the gene mutation. If your parent has a BRCA gene mutation there is a 50/50 chance that you will inherit it, so I made the decision to be tested when I was 20. Fortunately my test result was negative.
Through Sonia’s journey, my mum made the decision to have risk-reducing surgery. She had her ovaries removed in May 2012 and in Feb 2014 she started her journey to have a double mastectomy, making the decision to go ahead in March 2015. However, in the May she had an infection in one breast and the implant was removed. A year later she is still waiting for a new implant.
"I wish we'd known sooner about BRCA gene mutations; this knowledge has potentially saved mum’s life. There is still a risk, but a reduced one."Carrie Sellings
There was very little information given or advertised in hospitals regarding BRCA or the risk-reducing surgery that is available. Looking back I wish there was. Mum’s journey, on top of the loss of Sonia, was all too much to cope with. I went into a deep state of depression. No one could have warned me how hard it would be to lose someone you love, after witnessing the things they endured, whilst fighting another day.
But to also watch your mum break down at the thought of only having one breast was hard. To me she was still my mum. To her she felt she was an ‘incomplete’ woman. Now, two months before her operation, we try and talk positively about it. I call it her ‘granny boob’ and she laughs at me, but inside I know she hurts.
I have decided to become a Voice for Ovarian Cancer Action as I found grieving for Sonia was hard. I wish we'd known sooner about BRCA gene mutations; this knowledge has potentially saved mum’s life. There is still a risk, but a reduced one.
I want to help raise awareness. For months, even years, I thought how I was feeling was wrong; angry, confused, lost and broken - the list went on.
I want to be a voice for all those who wish they could speak up about what they have been through, whether as a patient or family or friend. If the story of my aunt or even mum helps one person I will feel like I have done something good.”
If you would like to share your story or become an ovarian cancer voice, please contact Ross@ovarian.org.uk