Brave fight to beat cancer

By Amelia Wade

Emerald Reid (with daughter Summer, 2) has the same BRCA1 gene that led Angelina Jolie to have her breasts removed. Mrs Reid did the same. Photo / Michael Craig
Emerald Reid (with daughter Summer, 2) has the same BRCA1 gene that led Angelina Jolie to have her breasts removed. Mrs Reid did the same. Photo / Michael Craig

Emerald Reid is among the seven NZ women diagnosed with breast cancer every day.

She went to the doctor after having a dream in which her great-grandmother told her to check her breast.

Physicians told her to have chemotherapy rather than a double mastectomy because she was just 29.

It wasn't until tests confirmed this year that she had the inherited BRCA1 gene - which greatly increased the chances of the disease returning - that her treatment plan changed to include the removal of her breasts. It was the same choice actress Angelina Jolie acted on this year.

"I just didn't want them any more, they were tainted. I just wanted them gone," said Mrs Reid.

Now she is getting ready for a reconstruction.

She is one of seven women who have spoken to the Weekend Herald about their battle with breast cancer.

Thirty years ago, it would have been seen as a death sentence.

But as medicine develops, the survival rate of the disease improves every year and is now greater than 80 per cent. Experts are even predicting a cure within a decade.

Breast cancer can strike anyone at any time - though the majority are female and older than 45.

And many will have thought they were safe because they don't have a family history of breast cancer, but 90-95 per cent of such tumours are unrelated to family history.

October is Breast Cancer Month and this year, the big push by the Breast Cancer Foundation is to get women to look for changes to their breasts and talk to their doctor about them.

Those changes could include unusual pain or changes to the skin, shape, size or nipple. This is the first year the campaign has focused on signs and symptoms.

Tonight is the foundation's Pink Star Walk in the Auckland Domain, which aims to raise money for research, potentially including two projects looking at new treatments for triple negative breast cancer, which many of the younger patients get.

- NZ Herald

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