Run the risk of dying an early death from cancer or take the drastic step of having both breasts surgically removed.
That has been the dilemma facing 26-year-old Emily Ranoble for nearly a decade, having lost all but two women on the maternal side of her family to the illness over two generations.
She has grown up surrounded by breast cancer. Her mother Shelley was first diagnosed when Cambridge-born Emily was just seven, before passing away two years later.
Her grandmother fought the condition when she was in her 30s, as did the Birstall resident’s auntie – the only two women to survive had drastic double mastectomy surgery to remove both breasts.
Spurred on by her family history, Emily, who is a home care manager, has decided to take her future into her own hands.
She will go under the knife for the operation and reconstructive surgery at Pinderfields Hospital on April 13 – her second wedding anniversary.
“It’s either have a mastectomy or die from cancer,” she said. “It will be quite unpleasant but it’s a minor disruption to my life compared to what developing cancer would be. It’s definitely the lesser of two evils.”
Living with the shadow of the illness looming large, Emily decided to leave any thoughts of assessing her chances of developing cancer until she was 25 given that the common age among her family for diagnosis was around 30.
In 2013, as her 25th birthday approached, she finally began to take steps to look at her options.
Emily was tested for a BRCA gene mutation, which puts women at much higher risk of developing the disease, but tested negative although doctors labelled her as high risk. About five per cent of breast cancers are thought to be hereditary.
She said: “Being given my operation date was a bit of a shock, I thought I would get more notice. It’s a really good day for me, it’s got good memories and good things have happened to me on April 13.
“I’m taking it as a positive omen but I’m definitely thinking about it more – now it’s real.”
Doctors expect Emily to leave hospital within a week, although her recovery is likely to take around a month.
As part of her journey back to full health she hopes to take part in a Cancer Research UK Race for Life run this summer.
CELEBRITY’S BREAST SURGERY INSPIRES RAISING AWARENESS
News broke of Hollywood star Angelina Jolie’s preventative mastectomy in 2013, as Emily Ranoble tried to find her own solution.
Jolie was told she had the BRCA1 gene that gave her an 87 per cent chance of developing breast cancer, sparking global media attention and a surge in referrals to breast cancer clinics worldwide.
Last week it emerged the star has also had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed for the same preventative reason.
Kelly Osbourne, son of rockstar Ozzy, has also revealed she has tested positive for the gene and will undergo surgery.
Becky Ranoble, 29, who is Emily’s wife, said: “It’s great that she’s raising awareness, although it’s difficult to relate to someone so high profile.
“There are more and more girls like Emily getting it done that need to talk about it.”
In 2011 around 50,000 women in the UK were diagnosed with breast cancer. There is a lifetime risk that one in eight women in this country will be diagnosed with the disease.
Emily said: “My message is go and get tested if you think you’re at risk. I realise for some people it will take a lot of courage but you’ve got to look at it as a positive thing if you are being given the opportunity to save yourself.”
For further information on breast cancer and Cancer Research UK’s Race for Life fundraisers visit www.cancerresearchuk.org.
SEE EMILY’S NEW YEP BLOG
The agonising wait for her operation, the nerves leading up to it and the rest of Emily’s journey will be documented in a new blog on our Health Living page every Monday.
Starting today, on page 27, Emily will write about her journey in her own words every week as her life-changing double mastectomy surgery approaches.
The blog, which will also be published online, will reveal her thoughts and feelings both before and after her operation. Emily hopes it will inspire others to seek the right help.