Christina Pacitti found out that she carried a BRCA gene mutation in 2015 after losing a loved one to ovarian cancer. She shares her story and the challenging decisions she has had to face...
"After losing a dear cousin to ovarian cancer, genetic testing was offered to immediate relatives and myself.
Before finding out the results of the genetic test, my partner and I had discussed the options should I carry the mutation. As we have two young children, we thought it best to go ahead with risk reducing surgery. Hopefully they are too young to remember mummy being in the hospital and won't have to lose me to breast or ovarian cancer.
That was the right choice for us as a family but not necessarily the right choice for other women.
I asked to be referred to the breast and gynaecology departments, and from January 2016 I attended a BRCA related appointment every month!
"The bruises and the scars are fading but emotionally I'm still raw"Christina Pacitti
My initial operation was lipomodelling in March before having my bilateral mastectomy with reconstruction in June. Physically, I'm recovering well. The bruises and the scars are fading but emotionally I'm still raw.
Since finding out I carry the BRCA1 mutation in September 2015, it’s literally consumed my thoughts. I think I’ve cried every day since. Not because I feel sorry for myself, but because I feel this immense guilt for my children.
I hope that by the time they are old enough to be tested for the genetic mutation, there will be alternatives available – medical advances that mean they won’t need to face the decisions I have.
It’s made me realise how precious life and health are and just how blessed I am to have so much support from people around me.
I’ve been given this path for a reason. I am absolutely determined that I’m going to support as many people as I can who are going through similar experiences and in turn, raise awareness about genetic testing. As a result, I've started writing a blog.
I hope that it will help me come to terms with the craziness that is my BRCA life."