Colette O’Carroll

Colette is taking on the incredible challenge of tackling the longest and fastest zipwire in Europe.

This is Colette’s story:

Like any normal 31 year old I regularly checked myself in the shower etc, and then I discovered a ‘lump’ I rang the doctors and requested a second opinion. At first, because of my age and because I wasn’t overweight, didn’t smoke and wasn’t taking any contraception I was advised it was probably just a ‘cyst’. This was until I mentioned I had a vague recollection of ‘something’ on my father’s side and a connection to St Mary’s Genetic Hospital in Manchester, as I was estranged from my father I didn’t have much more information. On hearing this they contacted St Mary’s for further details only to be informed they couldn’t divulge any patient information because of data protection and needed a direct link to that particular family tree who were already on their records. Luckily I was in contact with my father’s brother who had to give his written consent so the information could be disclosed.

Whilst this was going on to be on the safe side I was sent for an ultrasound, mammogram and biopsy, with the results coming back positive. I subsequently had a ‘lumpectomy’ and chemotherapy treatment and when I was well enough to travel etc., I attended St Marys Hospital for testing for the BRCA1 gene fault (which was positive) and further advice etc. They together with the Genesis Breast Cancer Prevention Research Centre have advised and guided me through the affects of having this gene fault and what complications come with that. I eventually chose to have a bilateral mastectomy with immediate reconstruction with a view to having my ovaries out at a later date (before I turn 40, which is when my risk of ovarian cancer development increases to 80-90%). They recommended an appropriate surgeon and within a few weeks I had the operation.

Many years have passed now and I will be turning the dreaded 40 within a few months and have started to make preparations to have my ovaries removed.