Michelle Heaton shares her story…
Singer and television presenter Michelle Heaton is a carrier of the mutated BRCA2 gene and underwent a preventative mastectomy and hysterectomy to reduce her risk of developing breast and ovarian cancers. Here, she shares her story and tells us why prevention is so important to her family.
Growing up, I was aware that there had been a number of cases of both breast and ovarian cancer in my family, and that my dad was a carrier of the mutated gene. I’d never been tested for the gene until after I gave birth to my daughter, Faith, and realised that she could be at risk, too.
Discovering I had the faulty gene was completely devastating and turned my world upside down, especially when I learned that Faith – who’s now six years old – would also have a 50 per cent chance of carrying it. There was never any doubt in my mind that I would have preventative surgery – it was a no-brainer for me: I had to do anything in my power that could ultimately save my life, so when Faith was just six months old, I had my mastectomy.
After having my second child, AJ, I decided to undergo a hysterectomy to reduce my risk of ovarian cancer, too – a massive decision at just 35 years old, especially as it would trigger early menopause.
Now, as a mum, I’m dreading the day I have to sit down with Faith and talk about our family history and the links to cancer. She’s already started to ask questions about why she won’t have any more brothers or sisters and I know the day will come when she has to make the decision on whether to be genetically tested. If she has the gene mutation, I’ll naturally blame myself and that’s why I’m so passionate about protecting future generations from breast cancer.
Not everyone is ‘lucky’ enough to know their risk and be able to take the steps to protect themselves, but the work that Prevent Breast Cancer is doing gives me hope that we’ll all eventually be able to know what our risk level is and know what we need to do to reduce that risk.
Whether it’s through leading a healthier lifestyle, attending more regular, personalised screenings or taking preventative drugs, I’m passionate about my daughter’s generation – and beyond – being protected from breast cancer.