A mother–of–four has praised a Dales–based advice line for helping her to get a double mastectomy in a bid to prevent her from developing breast cancer.
After seeing several women in her family fall prey to breast cancer over the years, Helen Ruckledge, of Baslow, was concerned that she might be next.
She decided she wanted to do something to prevent developing the illness, however when tested was found not to have the BRCA one and two genes, which are linked to hereditary breast cancer.
“I was initially told I couldn’t have any surgery because I didn’t have the gene, but I didn’t feel comfortable with that because it was obvious to me that breast cancer ran in my family,” Helen said.
She was told she could have yearly mammograms which would catch the illness early if it was found, however this was not enough for Helen.
“They supposedly caught my mum’s breast cancer early, but she still died,” she said.
Helen turned to the National Hereditary Breast Cancer Help Line, founded by Wendy Watson, of Bakewell.
“They were absolutely fantastic,” she said.
The help line explained to Helen that doctors working in St Mary’s Hospital in Manchester were at the cutting edge of research into hereditary breast cancer, and recommended she approach them for a risk assessment.
The doctors took into account factors such as family history and lifestyle and found Helen to be at a high risk of developing breast cancer, so she was booked into Christie’s Hospital, in Manchester, for a double mastectomy.
Helen had a mixture of emotions leading up to the surgery.
“It had been 15 years since my mum and aunty were diagnosed, and it had been hanging over me like a black cloud since then,” she said. “I was sort of excited that I was going to get the surgery, but also very nervous.”
Helen underwent six hours of surgery which included reconstruction work.
Three weeks later, she is recovering at home and is hopeful for her future, however is conscious that her three daughters may be faced with the same decision one day.
She gave special thanks to Wendy and the help line for helping her. The help line is available on 01629 813000.