By KRYSTAL BARTER
There is always a story behind a charity, why and how it came to be. In the same way, there is an inspiring reason Pink Hope’s #brightpinklipstickday campaign was created.
It’s a story that is largely thanks to Mia Freedman and a simple introduction.
I come from a family where breast and ovarian cancer is so entrenched in my family tree that is has become a way of life. Hereditary cancer has taught me lifelong lessons of compassion, empathy and passion… it ultimately led me to create Pink Hope, a charity for families at high risk of breast and ovarian cancer who needed support and resources to manage their risk. It was Mia that provided the connection to get our vision of Bright Pink Lipstick Day off the ground.
At 22 years old, I found out that amongst all the things I had in common with my Mum and Nan was the BRCA1 gene (something I also have in common with Angelina Jolie as well- didn’t see that one coming!). I spent the next three years navigating the maze of choices I then faced. Despite being supported by my friends and family, a lack of information left me feeling isolated and alone. I sought out charities overseas and found them to be incredibly supportive, but still they were not unique to my situation and were not based where I lived.
After three years of stress (largely caused by ‘doctor Google’). I decided to have a preventative double mastectomy. At just 25 years old I became the youngest woman in my family to have her breasts removed by choice. I was by no means an easy choice to make – but I had witnessed generations of my family be diagnosed with breast and ovarian cancer, each younger than the next. Knowing this heartache and my risk I believed it was the right decision for me.
I remember the exact moment I knew that my story could be turned into something positive. It was two days after my surgery and as I lay in hospital sore, flat chested and emotional I began to feel sorry for myself. My Mum pointed to a photo of my sons, Riley and Jye, “You are lucky, Krystal,” she told me, “Most women go into this surgery and start chemo straight after.” As usual, Mum was right – I was walking away cancer free, able to go home and get on with life.