A woman, 24, has become one of the youngest in the UK to have a double mastectomy – after seeing her mum battle a devastating cancer diagnosis.
Esther Taylor has a gene mutation meaning she is at “high risk” and nine of her relatives contracted the disease.
She underwent the gruelling nine-hour procedure on March 2 this year in a preventative operation to beat the scourge of cancer which has haunted her family.
The paediatric nurse from Preston, Lancs., has also been offered support from Liberty X pop star Michelle Heaton, who also underwent the procedure.
Now, Esther believes she can look with optimism to a healthy future despite many thinking she was “too young” to make such a major decision.
Speaking about the thought process behind the operation, the now 25-year-old said: “It was a difficult decision, it is scary, it is painful, it is risky and it is emotional, but ultimately it is brave, it is beautiful and it is life changing.
“A lot of people I have told think I’m ‘too young’ to make this sort of decision, but if you knew you were living with a high risk of developing breast cancer and you had a choice to significantly reduce the risk, then why wouldn’t you?”
Blood tests had previously revealed Esther had a rogue unidentified gene, putting her at high risk for breast and ovarian cancer.
It follows several members of her family being diagnosed with cancer including aunties, uncles and her mum Patsy Fenning, who was struck down in her 40s.
Esther said: “My mum comes from a big family, I have sadly lost many members of my family to cancer and the majority of aunts and uncles that are still alive have suffered cancer, too.
“It suddenly hit me, there came a time when a cancer diagnosis in the family no longer shocked me.
“I think at that point I realised it was a complete injustice to all these family members dying if I didn’t do something about it.
“Ultimately, I didn’t want the deaths of those so close to me to be for nothing. I wanted to celebrate them with life.”
Having had to watch, care and endure her own mum Patsy’s suffering when she was just eight years old, Esther, says the ‘C’ word was never far from her mind.
Esther’s surgery, a nine-hour operation, took place on March 2 at Wythenshawe Hospital.
Prior to the op, she had a ‘Bye Bye Boob’ party with colleagues from Royal Blackburn Hospital at a friend’s house.
She admits, while the scars of the surgery are healing, emotionally and mentally she still has a way to go with further big decisions to face at a later date and taking confidence in a look that she still finds a little ‘alien.’
“I went for a very like-for-like look, same size boobs and shape,” she added.
“This for me was never a ‘boob job’ or a cosmetic decision. These aren’t my boobs.
“I have a long way to go until I can accept that and my confidence has really taken a hit – more people than I can count have seen my boobs now.
“I do have days of regret when I think I wish I’d never done it.
“And I’m only halfway there to live a cancer-free life. I’m not totally rid of the risk yet but every day I think I’m living life for those people.”
Esther will one day consider a full hysterectomy, too, but says she is not yet in a place to make that decision.
Hannah Fitzpatrick, from Burton upon Trent, Staffs,, is the youngest in Britain to have a double mastectomy.
She chose the preventative operation at the age of 19 after two of her cousins were diagnosed with breast cancer in their 20s.
Genetic screening had revealed that she carried the BRCA2 gene, which meant she had an 85 per cent chance of developing the condition.
To find out more about Risk Reducing Surgery, visit https://preventbreastcancer.org.uk/about-us/.
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