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Understanding BRCA

Living with the breast cancer gene

By Clarissa Foster


Do you have a close relative who has died from, or is experiencing, aggressive breast, ovarian or prostate cancer?

Have they been tested for the BRCA (pronounced ‘bracka') gene mutation? Haveyou?



[image]At the age of 35, mum of two, Clarissa Foster, was found to carry a harmful mutation in the BRCA2 gene, which drastically increased her risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer. She was given statistics such as a 45-85% lifetime risk of breast cancer and 10-30% lifetime risk of ovarian cancer. "I felt overwhelmed and scared of the future that lay ahead," explains Clarissa. "I desperately wanted to connect with other women who were going through the same thing as me and to find answers to my many questions. I looked for a local BRCA group, but there were none. I felt very frustrated, alone and frightened that there seemed to be so little support and I wanted this to change. I decided that once I had come through my own journey, I would write a book with the aim of helping others."

This deeply personal, incredibly helpful book is the result of that research and of the decisions Clarissa took based on it. Within the context of her own painful experience of family cancer and of elective surgery, Clarissa 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 sexual functioning. Clarissa opens the book with ‘How it began', revealing the circumstances that led to the loss of her mum, aged just 48, to ovarian cancer. Medical terms are explained in an accessible manner, and readers are led through the journey, so they can make decisions from a more informed position. This book is also an invaluable resource to friends and family of BRCA carriers and those involved in related medical and healthcare professions.


[image]About the Author

A few weeks after Clarissa Foster found out she was a BRCA2 mutation carrier, Angelina Jolie bravely shared with the world her decision to undergo a risk-reducing mastectomy, due to a mutation in her BRCA1 gene. After many appointments and expert opinions, Clarissa underwent a risk-reducing bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy (removal of both ovaries and fallopian tubes) which resulted in a surgically-induced menopause. Three months later, in February 2014, she underwent a bilateral, nipple-sparing mastectomy, with immediate reconstruction with implants and two weeks after surgery, her surgeon advised she start HRT.


Clarissa Foster is a qualified Human Biology teacher at FE level and an experienced medical writer. She is also a health blogger and an 'expert patient' in relation to the BRCA mutation. To produce Understanding BRCA Clarissa worked with Consultant Gynaecological Oncologist, Alasdair Drake and Consultant Plastic & Reconstructive Surgeon, Michael Taylor. Clarissa lives in the Midlands with her husband and two children.


"Although each patient's journey is unique, we are all human and anyone carrying a BRCA gene mutation will probably go on a remarkably similar journey. A shared approach to risk reduction involving patients and their doctors is essential. Reading this book places the patient and their family support in an ideal position to achieve that.- Mike Tyler, Consultant Plastic & Reconstructive Surgeon


‘The faulty BRCA genes occur in around 1 in every 400 people, but as many as 1 in 40 people of Ashkenazi Jewish (Eastern European) may carry a faulty gene. In the US, about 1 in every 300 women carries a BRCA1 & 1 in every 800 carries a BRCA2 gene mutation.' - Understanding BRCA




Title:Understanding BRCA

Author:Clarissa Foster

Publisher:Hammersmith Books

Publication date:10/11/17

Category:Health, Cancer, Medicine, Oncology


Price: £14.99


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