The Journey Begins

BRCA or no BRCA?

With losing a lot of family members to ovarian cancer it became apparent there was a genetic link. After I lost my mother when I was 17 I needed to be tested for the BRCA1 gene, I later did this aged 25. I am one of three girls in my family and two of us inherited the mutated gene…

You are the wind beneath my wings




My mum was diagnosed in 2004, here are a few days in her dairy that year. “Don’t forget book for nurse “the smoke jumper” being one entry and “still feeling good” another. My mum was diagnosed with terminal cancer and still held down a job and the family all on her own.

She was whizzing down to London with me at the weekend to watch the lion king, I guess to distract me from the devestation that was ahead.



 

Gorgeous poem my sister wrote 
A bit about me

 

My name is Charlotte Wood, most people call me Charley. Im a normal 26 year old girl with a lovely boyfriend who I have been with for years. My mum passed away when I was 17 which was a very difficult time for me. I have two sisters of which I am extremely close to. I have the most amazing set of friends a girl could ask for, even though we are now spread across the country and in fact the world we always remain in contact. We organise trips away abroad and have an absolute ball. These friends have helped me through many a difficult time in my life, especially the most recent hurdle, a double mastectomy.


 



 
  
  


  

  
  
  
BRCA gene
This gene makes you 85% more likely to get breast cancer and 65% more likely to get ovarian cancer, these are astonishing figures. In comparison to the general population who have a 12% chance of getting breast cancer less than 1% of ovarian cancer.

Take a genetic quiz if you want to look at your risk..

http://pinklotusbreastcenter.com/risk-assessment/

To know more about risk have a read of this Facing our risk

After some counselling and various appointments I had the blood test and nervously went to receive the results with my sister. There was a 50% chance that I was to inherit this gene. The words “I’m sorry Chatlotte” left the doctors mouth and I just knew it, I burst into tears the news couldn’t have been worse.

The process of wanting to know if you have the gene to meeting a surgeon takes well over a year. I lost count of how many different people I had to go and have appointments with! I found the appointment with the psychologist quite emotional as they really delved into my experience when my mum died. The psychologist asked if I thought I was going to get cancer, she even asked if I have ever thought about killing myself.

24 thoughts on “The Journey Begins

  1. Charlie, your story so far shows your fun loving sprint for life, family and friends…. The photographs tell a million stories themselves! 😊❤️

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  2. Such a upbeat read of what can be such a scary time, as a nurse at the nightingale I think a lot of our ladies could be encouraged by your positive but honest story! Brave lady x

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  3. I stumbled across this blog whilst looking for some advice on what to expect with my upcoming preventative mastectomy. You are so brave sharing your story I can’t believe how similar our stories are. I am having the surgery aged 22 and I’m a little nervous so thank you for sharing your story! All the best for the future xx

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  4. You are a very brave beautiful young women , I wish you a full recovery and all the happiness in the world , you have a great team of family and friends and yr mum is with you 24/7 , lots of love
    Regards Tina 😘💞

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  5. I am so glad that I have stumbled across your blog tonight! Our stories are practically identical however I am on the waiting list for surgey at the moment. It’s so difficult to find someone else this age going through the same thing. I’m always researching and looking at blogs and yours has been the best read, the way you have written with such strength is amazing. I wish you all the luck in your BRCA journey and I will definitely be following you along the way x

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  6. Thank you so much for sharing your story. I am 24 and have BRCA1. I am trying to decide when and which mastectomy and reconstruction to have. Its scary being young, and Im hoping it turns out relatively normal looking..!

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  7. Pingback: Brave young woman undergoes double mastectomy after finding out she is at high risk of developing breast cancer | Share4post

  8. Dear Charley, thank you for this fantastic story which is still helping many many ladies like yourself in their battle to restore their lives after dealing with cancer diagnosis or BRCA gene. I am grateful to yourself for raising awareness among patients about Natural Tissue Breast Reconstruction which is something I really want to help you promote as it is the best way to restore breasts with patients own tissues that look and feel like their normal breasts. In addition, many ladies develop Lymphoedema-chronic swelling to their arm after mastectomy(+/- lymph-node clearance), which can be treated or even prevented by free-lymph node transfer – a sophisticated technique that I am now offering in Manchester to all patients from UK and abroad. Patients with Lymphoedema often require breast reconstruction and this can be done at the same time. I would encourage your bloggers to learn more about it on my website and contact me with if they have any questions.
    Thank you and take care,

    Damir Kosutic MD PhD FRCS (Plast),
    Consultant Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon, The Christie Clinic HCA Manchester/Wilmslow Hospital Cheshire/The Christie NHS Foundation Trust

    http://www.lymphedema.org.uk

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  9. I am currently deciding whether to have risk reducing double mastectomy after having radiotherapy to my chect as a teenager the doctors told me my chances of getting breast cancer are much higher. I am really struggling with the concept and worrying a lot but your story has helped me gain some confidence in my decision. I am going next week to hopefully get my operation date and meet my surgeon! scary times ahead. Thank you for shedding some positive light on this, I havent found anything else as helpful on the internet.xx

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  10. For a moment I though I was alone in the world. My mother and aunt died of breast cancer and my grandmother is a survivor. I took the test once only to have a negative result. Got married, had two beautiful kids. I have recently retaken the test and have gotten my results. Positive. It is a whirl wind of emotions, thoughts and lonely decisions …. Thank you for being a trailblazer! I commend you for helping others see that there is life after testing positive for the genetic mutation.

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  11. Glad you did the step to have your breasts removed before having breast cancer and you shared your experience. You did a very wise movement against bc. However, others are not “so fortunate” and suffer even more in the long run, so a bit of sympathy and understanding when bc patients complaint it would be grateful. I also have a family history of breast cancer. I also lost my mum and an aunt due to cancer. My BRCA1 and BRCA2 results were negative, so a preventative DMX was not mentioned at that time. I was diagnosed with bilateral breast cancer years later. I had to have both breasts removed with modified bilateral mastectomies. No option to have skin-sparing mastectomies or nipple sparing mastectomies as cancer was close to nipple, also natural breasts were small and I had extended microcalcifications with cancer. So, both breasts had to go. After that I had to have chemotherapy because one of the cancers was invasive. This brought more worries and more side effects. I understand your point when you say breast cancer patients would have scared you with their comments about breast reconstruction because some of them might have had a bad outcome and experience, but there are also thousands of them who have had a good result and look pretty good as I do. All of us, PDM and DMX due to cancer patients lose breast feeling. So, comparing ones to others is would take us to nowhere. So, please, don’t give your back to breast cancer survivors and facebook bc support pages. Those pages are there for a reason. For giving support to breast cancer patients when they are not having a good time, when they fear of cancer coming back or they already have mets and fear to die. Giving your support to all those woemen, bc patients and those with genetic mutations is a good thing to do. Thank you for reading my words. I hope you are fine and ejoying life free of cancer. Cheers!

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  12. Hi please can you show Pictures or how much your drain dollies are I’m going to my masectomy in June already has the implants fitted but I gave brca2 xxx

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  13. So your sister did not inherit the BRCA1 gene? This is a very emotional and sentimental post and I thank you greatly for sharing it with us all. I think you are very brave in being proactive with your double mastectomy. One of my son’s teachers recently underwent the same procedure and was back to work in 6 weeks. Do you know if there is any way to prevent ovarian cancer aside from a full hysterectomy?

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