Kate Page, 40, lives in Western Australia and found out that she carried the BRCA1 variant when she was 39. In April 2022 Kate elected to have a risk-reduction total hysterectomy and bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy, followed in September by a non-nipple sparing double mastectomy with immediate DIEP reconstruction.
Online Facebook groups, like Pink Hope’s, helped Kate come to terms with her genetic testing results, inform her treatment path and prepare for her surgeries, both mentally and physically. “I found it really empowering to share and to connect with other women at all stages of the journeys with BRCA and cancer. Because in those times where I did feel quite lonely, I was never actually alone. I think that's really important to realise because it could become overwhelming, this journey. And there's so much to sort practically, so much to sift through emotionally. So, if you are willing to just become that little bit vulnerable and to share, then other people will also share with you and hold that space for you to be able to say what's happening for you and what you need. Sharing is one step in a wider process that will take you to the places where you need to be on your recovery journey”.
Kate has shared her journey in a detailed document in Pink Hope’s closed Facebook ‘Before and After Photos’ community group. It includes information about referral processes, procedures and financial costs, along with how to prepare and support yourself emotional and physically.
“This has been such a transformative experience where I’ve gone from being that girl who feared cancer knocking at the door, to feeling quite empowered about it. I’ve really changed and metamorphosised in this time. I found it really hard and challenging at first, and I’ve come out of it feeling really strong. So, it’s possible that other women might feel that way in the future about it too. So, how can I share some of that energy to help support someone without assuming or saying, ‘You're going to feel really great, it's going be wonderful’? There’s such a multitude of experiences being shared and it’s important to stay empathetic”.
“It felt positive to share all the information [in the document]. It is my natural disposition to try and be generous and share my story because other people offered help to me when I most needed it. And so, it’s like this big ‘Karmatic Account’. And it feels really good to be generous like that. I know people can choose to accept or reject that information and that’s OK. For me, what’s important is to make that offering and know that it might have a positive impact for someone, somewhere down the line. Also, for me, everything I do in my work and in life is about connection and community as well. So, it’s not just an offering, it’s an invitation to connect too. And I think there’s real power in that connection because you always see yourself reflected in someone else”.
“And I always think of it like a ladder. There are some people further up the ladder than you and they’re kind of extending a hand backwards and saying, ‘That’s how you get your leg up’. And now I’m looking down at some ladies that are a bit further down the ladder than me and saying, ‘Yeah, you can do it. Just put your leg up there’. It makes me feel really great about sharing, because it’s not just me sharing. It’s a whole bunch of people sharing. It’s amazing. I know it’s obviously been challenging and difficult for everyone. And certainly, for me, a prophylactic journey is very different to someone who has actually had a diagnosis of cancer, and I recognise that. It’s just really nice to be able to connect with everyone and to feel part of this. Like, whoa, we’ve done this! We could do anything!”