JESSICA Braude found out she had aggressive stage-three breast cancer on her 30th birthday.
“I knew that I had the BRCA2 gene [mutation] before I was diagnosed so I knew there was a risk,” she said.
“I just didn’t think it would happen at that time in my life.”
Braude’s paternal grandmother had succumbed to breast cancer aged 34. Because of this family history, Jessica and her younger sister Nicole had both been tested and found to have the BRCA2 mutation, which increases the risk of both breast and ovarian cancer.
“I knew that my grandmother passed away, which then led me to find out I had the gene, which then [meant] I got an early diagnosis,” she said.
“The most important thing is really to know your family history, because that’s what saved my life.”
Jessica’s treatment involved an initial lumpectomy followed by four months of chemotherapy, then a double mastectomy and a reconstruction. She and her now husband also did a round of IVF in case her treatment left her infertile. She also plans to have a hysterectomy after she has had children.
“Physically, you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do, but the mental and emotional side is like a rollercoaster and one that I probably still haven’t got off, and don’t know when I’ll get off that one,” Jessica, now 32 and cancer-free, said of her journey.
But she said, “I genuinely see myself as so lucky that I have been able to deal with this and now I’ve got an opportunity to not pass this gene on to my children by doing what’s called PGD testing through IVF.
“I have the opportunities that my grandmother didn’t get, because treatment was less sophisticated in those days.”
Both sisters will be speaking at Pink Hope’s information and support day, this Sunday, October 20.
“Things like the Pink Hope information day are just so important because that’s where you can get all the information you need to manage your risk according to the latest research and the latest thinking,” Jessica said.
“I’ll be there on the day and I’m very happy to talk to anyone further, and help them understand this process, because it can be quite isolating.”
Pink Hope’s information and support day is this Sunday, October 20 from 9am to 4pm at the Langham Sydney. For more information, visit pinkhope.org.au.