Three women from the same family take drastic action over cancer timebomb
THREE of these women face a cancer gene timebomb — and they are all from the same family.
And together they have made the toughest decision of their lives – to face drastic surgery to beat the disease.
Tests have shown that the women have a gene which means they have up to an 85 per cent chance of developing cancer.
Grandmother Cath Gilroy discovered she had the faulty BRCA2 gene after she was diagnosed with breast cancer two years ago.
Mrs Gilroy’s sister, Elaine Price, and daughter, Clare Shaw, have now had the test — and both have the faulty gene.
Thankfully, Mrs Gilroy’s other sister, 49-year-old Joanne Johnson, tested negative.
But while having the gene tests, Ms Price was given the devastating news that she had early stage cervical cancer. Mrs Gilroy says she had to demand the genetic test from doctors and, in the end, was told she would have to pay for it.
She said: “I dread to think what would have happened if I had walked away.”
The 53-year-old wants to make other people aware of the gene and urge them to get tested as it could save their lives.
She does not believe there is enough information and support available.
Now, Mrs Gilroy, her daughter Ms Shaw, aged 36, and her sister Ms Price are preparing to have preventative surgery to have their ovaries, fallopian tubes and breasts removed.
Ms Shaw has already had her ovaries and tubes removed and said, despite the trauma of the operation and the fact it brought on the menopause, the decision had been a “no brainer”.
The mum-of-one said: “It was a choice between an 85 per cent risk or the surgery and it was something I decided I needed to do for myself and for my son.
“The test has identified my aunt’s cervical cancer, she wouldn’t know if she hadn’t been tested so it has ultimately saved her life.”
Ms Price, who was diagnosed with cervical cancer three weeks ago, said she was “quite confident” about her prognosis and said that she had “no doubt” that without the tests she was undergoing to have her ovaries removed, the cancer would not have been discovered.
The 44-year-old said testing positive had not come as a surprise to her as there was “too much cancer in our family”.
Mrs Gilroy, of Montrose Avenue, Tonge Park, asked to be genetically tested as both her mother and grandmother had suffered from breast cancer and her brother had died from stomach cancer, aged 52.
But despite having three close relatives with cancer in her family, Mrs Gilroy was told she did not have enough family history to be tested on the NHS and would have to pay £600.
After she tested positive, Mrs Gilroy discovered there was a 50 per cent chance her daughter and sisters could also have the gene.
She also found out she has an 85 per cent chance of developing breast cancer in her other breast and a 40 per cent chance of developing ovarian cancer.
Her 15-year-old grandson has a 50 per cent chance that he could also have the gene and will be tested when he is 18.
Mrs Gilroy said that after surgery, her 85 per cent chance of developing breast cancer again would be reduced to around two per cent.
She said her grandmother, May Leach, had a mastectomy and lived for 20 years after she was diagnosed with breast cancer aged 70, but her mother, Clare Price, did not have a mastectomy, and died in 1992 from breast cancer, aged 60.
But Mrs Gilroy has been waiting for 10 months to have the operation at Wythenshawe Hospital and said she is not seen as priority because it is a “preventative” operation.
She added: “I would urge people that if they think there is a link, to get tested by Bolton’s genetic nurses.
“I thought this has got to be more than just a coincidence.
“I felt so guilty for my daughter and my sister, and my other sister feels guilty for not having it but at least we know now.
“You need to push to have this done, it is so important.”
Former pop star Michelle Heaton had a double mastectomy last year, aged 33, after she discovered she carried the faulty BRCA2 gene.
The former Liberty X star has raised the profile of genetically-linked cancer and filmed a documentary about her story.
Martin Ledwick, head information nurse at Cancer Research UK, said: “BRCA2 is an important gene that protects us from cancer.
“Women who inherit a faulty copy of this gene have about a 60 to 80 per cent chance of developing the disease, but they only account for around two per cent of all breast cancers.
“Breast cancer is very common and most women who develop the disease don’t have a high-risk gene. Women with a strong family history of breast cancer can speak to their GP, who can refer them to a specialist breast clinic for a genetic test.
“If you’re worried about your risk or have any questions about cancer, you can call Cancer Research UK’s nurses on freephone 0808 800 4040.”
Comments are closed on this article.