Did you ever wonder as a child what your future would look like? Whether you’d grow up to be a ballerina, or a cardiologist? If you’d bring five kids into the world or live out your days in a secluded cottage?
For Krystal Barter, this picture held just one thing: cancer.
“From a really young age I’ve watched every single woman that I love face cancer,” she said on the podcast Fighting For Fair.
Krystal is in a family that carries the BRCA1 breast cancer gene mutation. The same one made famous by Angelina Jolie. And one that, back then, very little was known about, because a global biotech company owned the rights to test and research the gene.
Listen to Krystal tell her astonishing story on Fighting for Fair:
The BRCA1 is a genetic mutation that is linked to hereditary breast cancer. The disease is not a certainty, but it increases the odds, with around 55 to 65 per cent of women with the BRCA1 mutation developing breast cancer by the age of 70. For those of us without the mutation, the chance is less than 13 per cent.
There was a test to determine whether the gene mutation was present, but for Krystal, ignorance was preferable. Until, at the age of 21, she found out she was pregnant.
“That, to me, was probably exactly what I needed in my life to bring me on the straight and narrow,” she said.
So she gathered her newborn baby up in her arms and without fanfare she took the blood test.
"I was handed a piece of paper that said I was BRCA positive and the geneticist looked at me and said, 'but don't worry Krystal, your outcome will be completely different to that of your mum’s.' And I could only get one word out at the time and it was simply 'how?'"
Krystal's anxiety spread like wildfire. Is that a headache or a brain tumour? Am I having a heart attack? Should I have chemo? But I'll lose my hair? Do I get my breasts and ovaries removed or is that too radical?
After watching more than 20 women in her family get diagnosed with cancer, Krystal decided it would end with her. And it did.