Lisa was a newlywed when she was diagnosed with breast cancer at 33 years old. Tests confirmed she had estrogen receptor-positive (ER-positive) breast cancer. Lisa had a mastectomy and breast reconstruction to treat the cancer. She also chose to have her eggs frozen and had hormone therapy should she decide to start a family in the future.
Knowing she had a family history of breast cancer, Lisa decided to get genetic testing to find out her own breast cancer risk. The tests revealed she had the BRCA 2 gene, putting her in the ‘high risk’ category for breast cancer. She elected to have a mastectomy on her other breast so she wouldn’t have to live in fear of developing breast cancer. Read her letter below.
Lisa, Lisa, Lisa,
It’s 2030. You’re turning 45 years old this year. What a hell of a journey you’ve been on.
You and Nick still do what we did nearly every weekend in summer 10 years ago. Swimming in the crystal-clear water at Parsley Bay, taking the dog for long walks around Balmain or catching up with our friends. You’re also with the children you have always yearned for. The ones you so desperately wanted in 2020 but weren’t allowed to have then. There’s something different about you in 2030. There’s no fear.
See, over 10 years ago, you had to face something so horrible and so life-changing. Something that no woman should have to go through. Something that, in 2020, 53 women were told every day. You’ve had breast cancer. You were diagnosed eight weeks after the wedding. Not only that, you carry the BRCA2 gene mutation. So, in 2020, you girl, were a high risk. You could be forgiven for wondering why that should scare the sh*t out of you. Because for you, it’s 2030 and no-one actually dies from breast cancer anymore.
See, the National Breast Cancer Foundation reached their goal and you now live in a time where there are zero deaths from breast cancer. Breast cancer still exists but people aren’t dying from it anymore. And so that fear has gone, and right now I can’t begin to imagine what that feels like.
When you were told you had breast cancer, no one could have prepared you for what was to come, not just physically but mentally too. You, in true Lisa style, bottled your emotions a lot of the time and put on a brave face. But deep down you were so incredibly scared. You still were one year on, but as each day passed, you became a little less scared. And although you had a mastectomy to remove the 9cm tumour and a preventative mastectomy and hormone therapy to reduce your chances of recurrence, there wasn’t a day that went by when you didn’t think that it could come back and that next time you might not win the fight.
I’m not writing this letter to scare you, really, I’m not. I’m writing it because you ought to be celebrating, girl! You don’t have to fear dying from breast cancer anymore. Do you know how lucky you are? It means you are going to live a long and happy life. You are going to get the chance to do all the things you’ve wanted to do. It means you’re going to get old and grey with Nick, you’re going to watch your children grow into incredible humans, you’re probably going to become a grandparent. You’re going to have a life where breast cancer is not a death sentence anymore.
And if it does come back, and it’s only if, you will take it head-on because if breast cancer has taught you anything, it’s that you are bloody strong and resilient. You have the greatest support around you but more than that, you’ve beaten it once. You can most certainly do it again. But here’s hoping you won’t have to.
So, when it comes time to celebrate your 45th birthday this year, take a moment to stop and remind yourself of the enormous hurdle you’ve overcome to get to this point. Don’t take it for granted.