This is a resource page for the BRCA gene mutation (BRCA1 or 2) and cancer awareness. I was diagnosed with a BRCA2 gene mutation in February 2020. Since then I have had risk reducing prophylactic surgeries. I have written a number of blog posts about BRCA2, cancer awareness and my recovery post surgery. I am a Registered Nurse and have helped care for many patients with cancer, as well as had many close relatives diagnosed with cancer. The Link to my podcast is on the sidebar.
Note: this article is for informational and educational purposes only and should not be substituted for professional advice from a Registered Medical Practitioner. Please see the full disclaimer statement by clicking on the heading Disclaimer on the Home page. I am unable to answer specific questions from readers – if you are concerned, please see your doctor.
My Personal Journey
- BRCA2 – How it has affected my life A personal account of how the BRCA2 gene mutation has affected my life. BRCA2 causes an increased risk of certain cancers including breast, ovarian, prostate, pancreatic cancers and melanoma. This has had far reaching consequences throughout generations of my family.
- Being a patient in the midst of a pandemic A personal account of being hospitalised for surgery during the Covid-19 pandemic. How lockdowns and cancellation of elective surgery impacted my hospitalisation. Surgery is stressful at the best of times but during a pandemic it is even more upsetting.
- I will Go Pink for Breast Cancer Awareness A personal account of why I raise money for breast cancer research. Cancer has affected my family dramatically because of the BRCA2 gene mutation. Breast cancer research has meant that my family now is able to be tested and take preventative measures.
- We went pink for breast cancer awareness I dyed my hair pink to raise funds for Breast Cancer Research. Raising awareness of breast cancer improves treatment, screening and support.
- Staying Positive despite setbacks No matter how hard life seems, it is important to stay positive. Motivation and inspiration during a tough time in the history of mankind. List all the positives and compare with the setbacks – seeing a pattern will help in keeping a positive mindset.
- YouTube interview with Sue Loncaric – Staying Positive Despite the Setbacks in Life Staying Positive Despite Setbacks was the subject of my YouTube debut interview with Sue Loncaric for Women Living Well Over 50. Despite health issues, it is possible to remain healthy if your mindset is positive. Don’t let health problems and setbacks in life hold you back from living a healthy and productive life. Watch the full interview at this link
- Women of Courage guest post A guest post for Denyse Whelan Blogs on what courage means to me. Inspiration and motivation for women struggling with life’s challenges.
- 2020 – My unpredictable year My personal account of my unpredictable year. “Life is What Happens to Us When We’re Making Other Plans” Allen Saunders.
- My Word of the Year 2021 is Resilience My Word of the Year 2021 is resilience, which is the ability to rise above challenges and continue to persevere despite lack of progress.
- Update on Resilience – my word of the year The goal for 2021 was improving my resilience. How I am doing this a year post my diagnosis with the BRCA2 genetic mutation and my recovery from surgical complications.
- Reaching a Goal and Setting New Goals I reached an important goal which was returning to work after long term sick leave. Now I have set some new goals for myself including staying fit and healthy.
- How My Mastectomies Changed My Life … For the Better Although I had complications after my mastectomies, my life has changed for the better. This is my personal journey after after recovering from bilateral risk reducing mastectomies.
Cancer Awareness Posts
- How to Perform a Breast Self Examination (and why) Breast Cancer Awareness – early detection saves lives. Learn how to perform a breast self examination and why it is important to do it monthly. Early detection leads to higher survival rates from breast cancer. Your full guide to performing breast self examination correctly, and what symptoms to look for.
- October is for Breast Cancer Awareness October is for breast cancer awareness. The first of every month is when you should perform breast self examination. Know how to perform it properly, and what symptoms to look for.
- Guide to the regular health checks you should be having Regular health checks ensure you remain healthy. The most important reason to have regular health check-ups is the early detection of diseases such as heart disease and cancer. Treatment is much more successful if caught at an early stage, before complications have set in. Read more to find out which health checks you can do at home and which ones must be done by your doctor
- Health tips for Women’s Health Week Women’s Health Week was 7 – 11 September in Australia. It was a week dedicated to promoting women’s health with daily social media posts. Women’s Health Week is dedicated to all women to encourage them make good health a priority.
- Know your family and personal health history This post explains in detail the reason you need to know and record your personal and family medical history. Knowing your family’s medical history can show if there is a pattern of diseases such as cardiovascular disease and cancer. This includes a free printable Personal and Family Medical History Form where you can maintain a record of illnesses, operations, vaccinations etc.
- Signs you need to see a doctor Have you ever wondered whether you need to see a doctor? This article explains the signs that indicate that you need to see a doctor. Don’t delay your visit to your doctor because you are not sure whether you’re sick enough to go. Some health signs should not be ignored
- Coping with loss and grief after major life changes Grief can be experienced after any major life change, not just the death of a loved one. This post discusses coping with loss and grief after major life changes.
The BRCA Gene Mutation and Cancer Awareness Podcast is currently under production. Transcripts of each episode will appear here as they are published.
- Episode 1: What is a BRCA Gene Mutation and How Does It Increase Cancer Risk?
- Episode 2: Being Diagnosed With a BRCA2 Gene Mutation – My Story
- Episode 3: How to be Tested For a BRCA Gene Mutation
- Episode 4: What to do if you are diagnosed with a BRCA Gene Mutation
- Episode 5: Melanoma: Are You At Risk?
Finding out that you have an inherited genetic risk for cancer or other diseases can be a huge shock. There are inevitably many questions. I have found the following to be excellent sources of information:
Please note: Midlifestylist.com contains links to external websites that are not provided or maintained by or in any way affiliated with us. This website does not guarantee the accuracy, adequacy, relevance, validity, reliability, availability, timeliness or completeness of any information on these external websites.
Pink Hope (Australia) Preventative Cancer Health Hub
List of Cancer Genetics Clinics in Australia (Family/Hereditary Cancer Clinics)
Cancer Council (Australia)
Pancreatic Cancer Foundation Australia (Pankind)
Articles of Interest Online:
Genetic Test Results – What to do if your genetic test results are positive – National Breast Cancer Foundation (U.S.)
Informing Family Members About Hereditary Cancer – Cancer Institute NSW
Men, Too Can Have Breast Cancer: Symptoms to Look Out For – The Health Site (doesn’t mention BRCA gene mutations which are a risk factor as well)
Genetics and Prostate Cancer – Centre For Genetics Education NSW. Other fact sheets from the Centre for Genetics Education may be accessed here.
5 Things to Know About BRCA Mutations and Pancreatic Cancer – Pancreatic Cancer Action Network
Familial Malignant Melanoma – Cancer.Net
Family History and Cancer – Cancer Council
Resurrection Lily – The BRCA Gene, Hereditary Cancer and Lifesaving Whispers From The Grandmother I Never Knew by Amy Byer Shainman (Link to Amazon Kindle where you may buy). This book is excellent as it is from the point of view of someone with BRCA gene mutation. I learned a lot from it.
The Guide to Breast Reconstruction by Patricia O’Grady (Link to Amazon Kindle where you may buy). Discusses breast reconstruction including the pros and cons.
Understanding BRCA: Living With The Breast Cancer Gene by Clarissa Foster. Clarissa Foster has a BRCA2 gene mutation and has lost family members to cancer. In this book she explains what the BRCA mutation is, what it signifies, what the individual’s choices are and what the fall out can be in terms of a woman’s body image, identity and sexuality. I learned so much reading this book – it is highly recommended.
Pink and Blue: Colors of Hereditary Cancer. PINK & BLUE takes a profound look into the BRCA world examining what it is and how this genetic mutation puts both women and men at a higher risk for potentially developing numerous cancers. (Link to Vimeo where you may rent or buy). This is an excellent documentary – I learned a lot from it. I like how it brings in the perspective of males who have BRCA gene mutations as well.
BRCA Mutations and Pancreatic Cancer Dr. Karp and Dr. Kim Reiss Binder discuss BRCA mutations associated with pancreatic cancer, personalized medicine, platinum therapy, and PARP inhibitors (Recorded November 10, 2019).
Pink Hope Community National Online Support Group (Australia)
BRCA1 and BRCA2 Support Group (Australia)
HIS Breast Cancer Awareness – Male breast cancer and hereditary cancer
Reddit.com/r/BRCA/ The community on this subreddit is very supportive. Even if you aren’t normally on Reddit it is good to take a look at all the different questions and answers from BRCA gene mutation carriers.
These resources are by no means a complete selection of information available about the BRCA genetic mutation. If you have found any other resources to be useful, please contact me and let me know.