When sisters Michelle May and Julie Gaspero found out they carried the BRCA1 gene mutation, only one of them burst into tears.
While Michelle struggled to hold back her emotion as they were told they had a 70 per cent risk of getting breast cancer in their lifetime, and a 40 per cent risk of developing ovarian cancer, Julie knew this knowledge gave them power.
They'd had a gut feeling it would be a positive result given the history of breast cancer in their family. Their paternal grandmother was diagnosed in her early 40s. Two aunts, one in her 50s, were also diagnosed. And their father had only recently been told he had prostate cancer at 60.
But they were being given the opportunity at the age of just 28 and 26, to look into a potential crystal ball, and as Julie told Mamamia, "being able to take control of something and look at ways to eliminate that risk of developing cancer ahead of time was empowering".
Their options however, were limited.
For the next few years, the sisters were vigilant in monitoring their breasts and getting yearly MRIs and checkups. Michelle would travel two hours from regional Victoria to attend appointments alongside her sister in Melbourne, and they'd make a day of it. They were in control and safeguarding their futures through risk management. The other option on the table - invasive preventative surgery - felt too daunting and drastic to consider.