Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors
Laura Price

GET UPDATES FROM Laura Price
 

Why I Want to Get Rid of My Breasts

Posted: 01/11/2012 00:00

I'll just come straight out with it: I want them gone. I don't mean I want to be flat-chested forever - I want a full reconstruction, but I want rid of my natural breasts and the risk of getting cancer again.

You see, my cleavage is like a ticking time bomb. Don't get me wrong, I love my breasts, but they are pesky little things with a cancer risk. I know a double mastectomy will be a long and painful process, but what's a year or so of my life compared with a possible 60+ years of worry and the chance of having to go through the whole chemotherapy, surgery and radiotherapy process a second time?

Three weeks ago, I took a test for the breast cancer genes, known as BRCA1 and BRCA2. I was diagnosed with breast cancer this year at 29 years old and, because my maternal grandmother also had breast cancer in her 30s, the chances of my having a genetic mutation seemed high.

The Manchester-based geneticist started by drawing a family tree with coloured-in circles for the instances of breast cancer in my family. Based on this, he said there was a 50% chance that I have an inherited condition that caused my breast cancer, and a 20% chance that I have the mutated BRCA1 or 2 gene. The percentage is relatively low because of the absence of cancer on my father's side of the family, and the fact that my mother and aunt have lived to their 60s with no sign of the disease.

Unfortunately, the results of the blood test take a couple of months because the analysis involves extracting my DNA and going through it with a fine-tooth comb in search of a genetic 'error' - a process the geneticist likened to "Going through War and Peace in search of a spelling mistake." So, while I wait, I have no choice but to consider my options.

If I test positive for a fault in the gene - most likely BRCA2 because of the type of breast cancer I developed (oestrogen receptor positive and HER2 negative) - I will have a 50-85% lifetime risk of breast cancer. That risk is dramatically reduced on my left side because of the chemotherapy treatment I am currently undergoing and the Tamoxifen drugs I will take for five years to reduce my oestrogen levels, but my right breast would still face a 30% lifetime risk of developing cancer, even with Tamoxifen. A positive result would mean I would be foolish not to undergo a bilateral mastectomy - a decision that seems very clear to me.

But what if I test negative? The overriding feeling I have right now is that I may want a double mastectomy regardless of the result. You see, so far, my boobs have caused me nothing but problems. I don't want to have to live in fear of lumps and bumps for the rest of my life, forever worrying that one day I'll wake up with cancer again. It would be a shame not to be able to breast feed if I am able to have children, but I am sure the advantages of not getting cancer again outweigh the disadvantages of using bottled milk.

Testing positive for the BRCA2 gene mutation would also give me a 20-30% lifetime risk of developing ovarian cancer. Fortunately the ovarian cancer risk is only significant from my mid-to-late 40s, so I wouldn't need to consider removing my ovaries for another decade or so. That said, if I test positive for the gene, I would have a 50-50 chance of passing it on to my children, and I feel it would be irresponsible to knowingly have kids in that case.

I can't make a decision until I have all the facts in front of me. All I can do now is wait, but at least once I know whether I have the faulty gene, I will then have the knowledge and power to act accordingly. Let's just hope those doctors crack on with War and Peace and get me an answer as soon as possible.

Also on HuffPost:

Loading Slideshow...
  • Breast Cancer Screening Bra 'Catches 90% Of Tumours In Tests'

    A bra which hope to detect breast cancer in wearers, before it can be seen in traditional scans, has shown promising early results. In a series of clinical trials, the bra successfully detected over 90% of breast tumours at a very early stage. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2012/10/25/breast-cancer-detect-bra_n_2016369.html" target="_hplink">Click here to read full story</a>

  • Women With Bigger Breasts Have Higher Risk Of Breast Cancer, Finds Genetic Study

    According to new research, a genetic link has been made between breast size and breast cancer risks. Medical News Today reports that genetics company 23andMe has identified seven single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) - or genetic variations - significantly associated with breast size. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2012/07/05/health-bigger-breasts-higher-cancer-risk_n_1650466.html" target="_hplink">Click here to read full story</a>

  • Stress Speeds Spread Of Breast Cancer, Suggests Study

    Stress can hasten the spread of breast cancer to the bones, research suggests. Studies of mice showed that responses to stress made it easier for tumours to take root in the bone. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2012/07/18/health-stress-speeds-spread-breast-cancer-women_n_1682069.html" target="_hplink">Click here to read full story</a>

  • Breast Cancer Screening Led To 4,000 Women Undergoing Unnecessary Treatment - Study

    Breast cancer screening leads to thousands of women undergoing unnecessary treatment despite saving lives, according to an independent review. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2012/10/30/breast-cancer-4000-women_n_2042664.html" target="_hplink">Click here to read full story</a>

  • Breast Cancer Treatment That 'Melts' Tumours

    Cancer Research Technology (CRT) has launched a spin-out company that will develop a next-generation of High Intensity Focused Ultrasound (HIFU) surgery to treat - and melt - cancer tumours. <strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2012/01/25/new-cancer-tumour-melting-device-coming-soon_n_1231308.html?ref=uk-lifestyle" target="_hplink">Click here to read the full story...</a></strong>

  • New Genetic Test Could Save Thousands From Chemotherapy

    Almost half of women with the most common form of early breast cancer could be spared chemotherapy thanks to a genetic test, research suggests. The Oncotype DX test involves the examination of genes taken from a sample of a tumour removed during surgery. <strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2011/12/16/genetic-breast-cancer-test-to-cut-chemotherapy_n_1153475.html" target="_hplink">Click here to read the full story...</a></strong>

  • Breast Cancer Could Be Detected In Seconds Using Anti-Landmine Technology

    Breast cancer could be detected in seconds using new, anti-landmine technology. British scientists have developed a revolutionary breast-screening system that uses anti-landmine technology to detect cancer in seconds. The radio-wave scanner is safer, cheaper and less painful than traditional mammogram X-rays, and unlike the current system, can be used on women of all ages. <strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2011/12/02/new-scan-detects-breast-cancer-in-seconds-anti-landmine-technology_n_1125166.htm" target="_hplink">Click here to read the full story...</a></strong>

  • Low GI Diet Reduces Breast Cancer Risk

    According to new scientific research, eating a low glycemic index (GI) diet could drastically decrease the risks of breast cancer. <strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2012/01/16/low-gi-diet-may-reduce-breast-cancer-risks_n_1208477.html " target="_hplink">Click here to read the full story...</a></strong>

  • Fresh Doubts Over HRT Treatment And Breast Cancer Risks

    The controversial link between hormone replacement therapy and breast cancer has resurfaced, with health experts claiming that there is no solid evidence that HRT increases breast cancer risks. <strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2012/01/16/fresh-doubts-over-hrt-treeatment-breast-cancer_n_1208863.html" target="_hplink">Click here to read the full story...</a></strong>

  • New Paraben 'Link' To Breast Cancer Risks

    New scientific evidence has indicated that common preservative chemicals found in underarm antiperspirants and thousands of other everyday products, can be detected in breast cancer tumours. <strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2012/01/12/paraben-chemical-linked-to-breast-cancer_n_1202144.html" target="_hplink">Click here to read the full story...</a></strong>

  • Cancer Drugs Might Help Tumours Spread, Rather Than Preventing Them

    Cancer drugs that are designed to shrink tumours by cutting off the supply to their blood may be doing the opposite and helping them spread to other parts of the body, a study has warned. <strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2012/01/17/cancer-drugs-might-help-tumours-spread_n_1210647.html" target="_hplink">Click here to read the full story..</a>.</strong>

  • Boiling Breast Cancer Tumours 'Kills Them In Minutes'

    A new treatment for breast cancer has been discovered after scientists found that breast tumours can be killed in minutes - by boiling them <strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2011/11/22/boiling-breast-cancer-tumours-kills-them-in-minutes_n_1107632.html" target="_hplink">Click here to read the full story...</a></strong>

  • Alcohol Warning To Women With Family History Of Breast Cancer

    Women who have a strong family history of breast cancer should avoid drinking alcohol, a new study suggests. Health experts warn that women whose mothers, grandmothers and aunts have had breast cancer, are more than twice as likely to develop the disease than non-drinkers. <strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2011/11/15/alcohol-warning-to-women-with-family-history-breast-cancer_n_1094409.html" target="_hplink">Click here to read the full story...</a></strong>

  • Britain Lagging Behind In Breast Cancer Survival Rate

    The UK is lagging behind other countries on survival rates for breast, bowel and cervical cancer and has much higher hospital admission rates for asthma, research shows. <strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2011/11/24/britain-fall-behind-on-cancer-survival-rates_n_1111590.html " target="_hplink">Click here to read the full story...</a></strong>

 

Follow Laura Price on Twitter: www.twitter.com/bigscaryCword

FOLLOW UK LIFESTYLE