Jewish Health

Michelle - Interview 31

Age at interview: 41

Brief outline: Michelle was diagnosed with breast cancer and had a mastectomy and chemotherapy. She was shocked to discover she has a mutation on the BRCA2 gene and has since had another mastectomy and her ovaries removed.

Background: Michelle is a tutor and housewife. She is married and has 3 children. Ethnic background/nationality: Jewish

Audio & video

 Michelle was diagnosed with breast cancer a year ago and describes it as a huge shock, as there was no cancer in her family. The treatment was a mastectomy with a dorsal latissimus flap reconstruction and chemotherapy. Her consultant suspected she may carry the BRCA mutation but decided not to test her at first. She eventually was tested during her chemotherapy. As there was no family history of cancer, Michelle describes her approach to the genetic testing as ‘flippant’. She, and other family members, did not think she could possibly carry it. To find out she did was “horrendous” and Michelle describes how she has battled with the choices of preventive surgery. After much thought, Michelle chose to have her ovaries removed, a decision that she describes as worse than having her breast removed. She didn’t want to go into an early menopause and worried that she could experience depression. 

Michelle has also decided to have her other breast removed but this time have an implant rather than the latissimus flap reconstruction because she found that procedure very painful with long recovery period. Michelle feels she has “fought tooth and nail to keep her body intact but BRCA won”. She is very worried about whether she has passed the mutation onto her children.


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