Jude Baines

I’m Judith, I was diagnosed in 2018 with triple-negative breast cancer. I had never even heard of this particular type until then!  Cancer has meant that I have totally re-evaluated my life and to take nothing for granted

My sister had breast cancer several years ago which lead to genetic testing. It transpired that I also carried the BRCA2 gene.  I was in my early 50s at the time so elected to have an oophorectomy which led to a tumour being discovered and my first real brush with cancer. 

A full hysterectomy followed plus chemotherapy.  I was so grateful that it had been picked up early on and went on to make a great recovery both mentally and physically.  I continued having annual mammograms and breast MRIs as a further safeguard. Once again it paid off as in August 2018, at the age of 64, something showed up on an MRI. 

After 2 biopsies and a lumpectomy, I eventually had a double mastectomy in November 2008 followed by Chemotherapy. I’d like to say I bounced back afterward just as I did the first time but I haven’t.  Almost 2 years on I’m still on an emotional roller coaster.  I feel my body has ‘ let me down’ and I have no control over what it may do in the future.  I have lost my ‘carefreeness’ and struggle to stay positive. Having said that I remain grateful that testing meant the cancer was picked up in both cases.   

So whilst some may view having the BRCA gene as a curse, I feel the extra testing made available to me was in fact a blessing.  I had had no symptoms in either case and without the tests I may have been considerably further down the road before it was picked up.  I am thankful for the extra years I believe I’ve had because of the tests. 

The moral of the tale is to not shy away from testing (at the hospital or manually!).  Catching it earlier rather than later can literally save your life.