New Years Eve 2014 was a day that Carly Mackie from Lee-on-Solent will always remember. When everyone else was preparing for the festivities to unfold, Carly was reading a letter from her doctor which detailed her being a carrier to the cancerous BRACA 2 gene, giving her a 90 per cent chance of developing breast cancer and 40 per cent ovarian in the future. Considering Carly’s mother was fighting the same disease it was a frightening letter to receive. But not for Carly who says having a double mastectomy and hysterectomy just five months after receiving the letter was a no brainer!
“Mum was diagnosed with Ovarian Cancer in October 2013, and because her mother had died of breast cancer and I have two cousins that have had breast cancer the doctors suggested for myself and my sister to be tested to see if we carried the same cancer gene,” says Carly as she sips her coffee in the QA Hospital coffee shop where we have met to discuss her story.
“To my relief my sister was not a carrier, but when I told my mum that I carried the gene she was naturally upset and blamed herself, which I thought was unnecessary but as a mother to two daughters I could understand it. I am terrified that my daughters will also carry the gene, but as they’re six and two I’m convincing myself that by the time they’re 18 there will be some kind of futuristic pill that they will take instead to eliminate getting cancer.”
Carly says watching her mum battle cancer over the last two years has been tough and that sadly she is now losing the battle. “Seeing what mum is going through made me realise how important it was to reduce that high statistic the doctor gave me and just do away with my breasts and ovaries, as no matter how hard it is to remove my womanly parts it would be much harder to deal with a cancer diagnosis.”
Talking to Carly it’s clear that she’s a glass half-full kind of person. “Yes I am very pragmatic and pick myself up very quickly,” laughs Carly. “But my mother is dying of ovarian cancer so how I can mope about having to have surgery that at least gives me the chance to live my life and not catch it. And for that I’m incredibly lucky,” says Carly extremely candid.
Carly says she is fortunate that she was able to have both the gene detected and both operations at aged 35. “I’m the perfect age for it. I have had my no responsibilities fun years; I’m married and have two children. My daughters could be tested at 18 and then have to make the mastectomy and hysterectomy decision before they have even lived, and I’d hate to think they may change their path in life because of carrying the gene. ”