Back in 2019, Gift was awaiting the results of a BRCA gene test, which would tell her whether or not she had inherited the same genetic mutation as her mother and a heightened risk of cancer. The decision to have a test was not an easy one to make, but Gift decided it was the right thing for her. Almost two years on, Gift shares her story of what happened next and reflects on the results.
It’s almost two years since I was tested for the BRCA gene mutation and a year since I got my results. I still recall the mixed feelings I felt on both days; anxious, calm, tears of joy for making a life decision that will save both my life and generations after me. Or perhaps they were tears of regret because it was too late to walk away from this tough life decision. At one point I even thought of holding back from getting results until my 30th birthday – it’s safe to say I went through a rollercoaster of feelings.
I vividly remember the sigh of relief that came after hearing the genetics counsellor say, “Your results came back negative”. I was relieved to know that I will no longer have to live with the fear of the unknown and what-ifs. I remember uttering the famous words of Angelina Jolie, “My kids will never have to say, ‘mom died of ovarian cancer’.” I cannot find the right words to explain what the test meant to me, but to be told I tested negative despite the odds being against me is something I will forever live to thank God for.
Not having a faulty BRCA gene means my risk of developing ovarian cancer is much lower, but it does not eliminate the whole risk (2%). I now have peace of mind knowing that there is a plan in place to help me manage the risk. I have also made several lifestyle changes to hopefully manage my average risk and being symptoms aware has helped me to pay extra attention to my body and listen when it speaks.
I cannot find the right words to explain what the test meant to me, but to be told I tested negative despite the odds being against me is something I will forever live to thank God forGift Hamisi
Life has in so many ways moved on, from relocating to a new city to being dedicated to living life boldly. Both my mother and grandmother’s fight with ovarian cancer and my BRCA experience have changed my attitude towards life. Before I was the girl who lived to follow the direction of the wind, naïve on a number of issues, and thought our time on earth was guaranteed. The above experiences have pushed me to being committed to live intentionally, not to take a day of being alive and well for granted, actively engage with causes that are close to my heart, do my part to make a difference in my community, nurture relationships with loved ones, and I have even created a bucket list of what I want to do or achieve. But above all else, the experiences above have helped me find my purpose and shaped the woman that I am today.
In the words of Jojo Moyes, which I have adopted as my life mantras, “You only get one life. It’s actually your duty to live it as fully as possible” and “Push yourself, don’t settle. Just live well Just live.”
We don’t often hear the stories of people who have tested negative, that is why I live to share mine, hoping that it encourages anyone who like me has a family history of ovarian or breast cancer and afraid of going for the BRCA genetics test. Knowledge is power, being aware of your family history and knowing your BRCA status can help you to take the necessary precautions at an early stage to manage your risk and prevent future cases of cancer.
It’s not an easy decision to make but I hope you find the courage in you and once you are through with the test process, no matter how your results turn out to be, you too will share your story so we can all raise awareness to contribute towards a future where no woman dies of ovarian cancer.
To understand and find out if your family history puts you at risk of ovarian or breast cancer, use our Hereditary Cancer Risk Tool.