Sharon Osbourne and BRCA Interviews
The beginning of this week has started with a bang. Sharon Osbourne has just revealed that she has had a double mastectomy after learning that she carries a breast cancer gene. As always, there has been a media frenzy around BRCA and preventative mastectomies. I have been part of the media hype by sharing my story, this week with BBC World News and BBC Essex Radio.
Yesterday I was asked to be interviewed, live, on BBC World News whereby I was asked specific questions relating to my decision to have a double mastectomy. I, along with another BRCA lady Emma Parlons, regularly share our story with local, national and international TV news stations, radio, magazines and papers in a bid to create awareness about the BRCA gene and in an attempt to address some of the misconceptions people have when they learn you have willingly opted to have a double mastectomy. By highlighting the issues we have faced we hope to make the journey easier for others and to say to our daughters that we fought to change their future. We both work closely with Breast Cancer Campaign to highlight how important their work to us is. We hope that by supporting this charity and the research they do into breast cancer and BRCA that we can stop our daughters having to make the same heartbreaking decision that we have had to make.
Watch Charlotte's BBC World News interview:
By writing this blog and by appearing on news channels live around the world (which in itself is a nerve wracking experience) I hope that I can also help other women in my situation. I hope my positive outlook makes it somehow more bearable for women (and men) to face up to the cancer that may have blighted their family and consider their future.
When somebody as high profile as Sharon Osbourne, Christina Applegate and Michelle Heaton come out and say they have a breast cancer gene and that they are having a double mastectomy the whole world takes note and a procedure that is sometimes frowned upon by some and seen as being ‘radical’ and ‘drastic’ becomes a serious topic for discussion. The difference this time is that people look at things slightly differently than when I tell them. All of a sudden they see a lady that has a significant amount of money, is a part of one of the most successful families and so could easily meet with all the top oncologists and surgeons anywhere in the world yet she too is having to have a preventative double mastectomy. In this situation people really take note. The 85% chance of breast cancer that I have been mentioning for years suddenly rings true to them; not because I am having a double mastectomy (they always thought that it was a strange choice) but if Sharon Osbourne has had one then it must be serious.
Sharon Osbourne ‘coming out’ (so to speak) as BRCA positive is undoubtedly inspiring to women all over the world. It reconfirms to me that my decisions are very much correct and it most definitely reiterates the importance of risk reducing surgery when faced with this gene. Hopefully it will enable women to speak more freely about their options, their fears and their futures. It will open that line of communication between husbands and wives, parents and their children and friends and family members. Some may discover breast and ovarian cancer has littered their family history and so may ask to be tested whilst others may just have had the nudge they needed to call the genetics councillor and say ‘yes’ I would like to go ahead with the test and know my risk.
Today I went shopping and overhead a gaggle of women in a changing room at a department store. One lady was trying on a dress and said by the time she wears it she will have red hair and really likes the colour of Sharon Osbourne’s hair and with that a whole conversation entailed all about BRCA, Sharon’s double mastectomy and Michelle Heaton’s double mastectomy. A year ago that conversation would not have been had as no one in the public eye had come out as having BRCA and from my experience the majority of people had not even heard of breast cancer genes. Today is a different story. By sharing a heartbreaking, yet brave story like ours it has huge impacts on women everywhere and whilst I may not be high profile like Sharon or Michelle I still feel it is important to let others know what being BRCA is all about; what our choices are; what decisions we face and I will, as my double mastectomy nears, be detailing every part of my surgery and hopefully answering some of the questions so many women are scared to ask.