Mum’s cancer gene advice

BRCA cancer mastectomy decision

A mother-of-one carrying a deadly breast cancer gene says she is ready to advise her baby daughter to have a mastectomy once she is old enough.

Becky Measures, 32, who underwent a preemptive double mastectomy in 2006, knows her 16-month-old daughter Eva May Menzies is also likely to be carrying the BRCA gene and will face the same impossible choice she did.

In 1992 Miss Measures’s mother Wendy Watson, 59, became the first person in the UK to have a preemptive mastectomy. She was later made an MBE for services to people with cancer.

Miss Measures said: “If Eva gets the same diagnosis I and my mother did, she will be ready for it, and our family will be there to support her.

“I’ll be there to remind her that a surgery isn’t as bad as she might imagine. I survived it, my mother survived it, she’ll be able to survive it too.”

Miss Measures had a preemptive double mastectomy when she was just 24 years old.

She said: “When I got the test results telling me I carried the BRCA gene, mum told me she felt incredibly guilty. She had nothing to feel guilty about, of course, but it’s the natural reaction you get when you feel that your baby is in danger.

“I’ve seen other people go through cancer and it can be horrendous. The idea of my daughter contracting cancer scares the mittens off me.

“The fact that women in my family are at high risk is frightening, but we are also lucky to have each other, and to know to get tested.

“One day I may have to tell my daughter that she has contracted the BRCA gene from me, and that she needs an operation to remove her breasts. If she has a scan when she turns 18 she will be going through the same experience that my grandmother did 40 years previously.”

Miss Measures and her partner and Eva’s dad, sales representative Alex Menzies, 28, did not conceive their daughter through IVF which would have presented an opportunity to screen out the BRCA gene.

It is possible the toddler is not carrying the gene. A screening, available once Eva reaches adulthood, will determine whether or not she faces the same dilemma as her mother and grandmother.

Miss Measures, a radio presenter of Chesterfield, said: “If she is affected then I hope she gains the same strength and empowerment as me and my mum.

“I hope that she doesn’t have the gene at all, but if she does we can do something about it – that leaves us in a privileged position.”

Miss Measures, who receives regular blood tests, yearly ultrasounds, and comprehensive scans every six months, said she intends to use her experiences to help her daughter through tough choices.

She said: “Discussions about cancer are a big part of our lives. My mother runs the hereditary breast cancer helpline and I help her raise awareness of breast cancer as well.

“Our experiences have brought us closer as a family. I hope that Eva will see the positives in me and her grandma that have come out of our experiences.”

More high resolution pictures are available on request. To discuss rates for using pictures and copy, contact news editor Tom Knight on 07815 004413 or tom@medavia.co.uk.

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