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At age 29, Laura has lost her entire family – aside from one aunt – to cancer.
Laura’s father passed away from brain cancer when she was just two. When she was 25, her mom – her best friend – died of pancreatic cancer, after twice surviving breast cancer. Today, just Laura and her aunt are left.
Having lost so many loved ones to the disease, Laura became determined to live a long life – and to make sure future generations of her family would also have that opportunity.
In early 2014, she decided to undergo genetic testing for BRCA - a gene that, when mutated, dramatically increases a woman’s chances of developing breast and ovarian cancer. Four weeks after her test, Laura received the call: she had tested positive.
Although it was difficult, she knew she needed to take control of her life. Laura underwent a double mastectomy at Women’s College Hospital, the recommended treatment to eliminate the risk of developing breast cancer, and breast reconstruction. She was going to live – for herself, for her husband and for her family whose own lives were cut short by cancer.
“I knew that if I didn’t do something, if I didn’t get tested and have a mastectomy, that I was going to end up getting cancer,” she says. “I couldn’t let that happen. Women’s College Hospital gave me the option to know my risk and take steps to eliminate it.”
Laura and her husband, Nick, are now actively fundraising within their community to support WCH’s hereditary breast and ovarian cancer research team. Laura has also started a blog, www.laurakellybrca.ca
, to share her story and provide support to other women taking control of their lives through genetic testing and surgery.
“I grieve for the family members I’ve lost, but I choose to use these experiences to help others,” she says. “If I can save even one life through fundraising and raising awareness by sharing my story, then it will all be worth it.”
Visit Laura’s website at www.laurakellybrca.ca
. To donate in support of hereditary breast and ovarian cancer research at WCH, click here
or contact Fiona Bedlington at firstname.lastname@example.org
or 416-323-6323 ext. 2319.