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Inspirational calender girl who had op to ward off cancer
6:00am Thursday 26th September 2013 in News
A MUM who lived in fear of developing breast cancer took the drastic decision to have a double mastectomy.
Despite such life-changing surgery, Helen Smith,49, is appearing in a discreetly topless calendar to raise money for a helpline supporting other women tackling traumatic decisions like hers.
Mrs Smith tested positive for the faulty BRCA 1 gene. Up to 65 per cent of people with this gene will go on to develop breast cancer. Celebrities like Angelina Jolie, Sharon Osbourne and Michelle Heaton have made the headlines recently with their decisions to have preventative mastectomies due to being carriers of the faulty gene.
Mrs Smith’s family have been devastated by the disease. Her mum had breast cancer at 47, her sister was diagnosed in 2007 at the age of 44 and two cousins had the disease in their 40s.
After much indecision Mrs Smith decided to have the test in November 2007.
She said: “I watched my sister Julie go through cancer, having chemo, a mastectomy and her veins collapsing. I watched her cry through it. She couldn’t be tested because of the chemo in her system.
“So I knew in the end I had to have the test to see if I was at risk."
Mrs Smith faced a miserable and agonising wait for the results.
The mum of four, supported by husband Martin, underwent surgery in November 2009 and reconstructive surgery in May 2010 and hasn’t looked back since.
She said: "I wasn’t scared I just wanted to be free from knowing I would get it. It was the biggest weight lifted from me when I woke up.”
She found support during her experience through a chance meeting with Wendy Watson who was doing a talk locally.
Mrs Watson runs the National Hereditary Breast Cancer Helpline and it is women who met through the charity who are in the BRCA Babes calendar raising money for it.
It features Mrs Smith, a learning support assistant at Seevic College, and 24 other women all with a link to the gene in various tasteful nude shots. They have bared all to inspire others and to share their stories.
Mrs Smith, of Ormonde Gardens, Leigh, said: “The calendar is amazing and I couldn’t be prouder of it. It goes to show you can still look good after surgery.”
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