Kirstie Johnson didn’t want to be another statistic so she decided to take her health into her own hands.
The 27-year-old, from Brisbane, has a strong history of breast cancer in her family.
‘My grandmother died of breast cancer at the age of 48. In 2012, at age 57, my father fought and won a courageous battle with breast cancer,’ she told FEMAIL.
‘This history led my father to be genetically tested and subsequently diagnosed with the BRCA2 gene. With a 50 per cent chance of my father passing this mutated gene to his children, I decided that I should be tested.’
After finding out she had a genetic mutation that significantly increased her chances of cancer, Kirstie Johnson, 27, (pictured right) had a prophylactic mastectomy
At the age of 25, Kirstie was diagnosed with BRCA2.
The genetic mutation, which actress Angelina Jolie also has, drastically increases a woman’s lifetime risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer.
Kirstie said she was told her chances of breast cancer increased from 12 per cent to 72 per cent, while the likelihood of her getting ovarian cancer rose from 1.3 per cent to 44 per cent.
Two years on, Kirstie is gearing up for her next challenge – swimming across the English Channel
‘At the time my only thought was “why me, this isn’t fair”,’ she said.
‘I had one question running through my mind and that was; ”Do I really want to wake up one day and find a cancerous lump?
‘Once I accepted that this was my reality, I decided to undergo a bilateral prophylactic mastectomy and breast reconstruction to reduce my risk of breast cancer by 90 per cent.’
The procedure involved two operations and took six months to complete.
‘I decided to undergo a bilateral prophylactic mastectomy and breast reconstruction to reduce my risk of breast cancer by 90 per cent,’ said Kirstie
‘I was lucky enough to have an extremely smooth procedure with a quick recovery,’ Kirstie told FEMAIL.
‘I knew within myself that I was strong enough to get through such a big procedure and focused on one day at a time.’
Two years on and Kirstie is preparing to swim solo across the English Channel – a total of 32 kilometres – in September 2019.
‘The crossing should take me anywhere between 10 to 16 hours. I was inspired by a colleague who successfully crossed the Channel two years ago and decided this was something I wanted to try, however, I had to put my dream on hold after my BRCA diagnosis/surgery. But now, there’s no stopping me.’
Kirstie hopes to raise money to support Pink Hope – an organisation that aims to educate and support people who are at risk of hereditary breast and ovarian cancer.
‘I knew within myself that I was strong enough to get through such a big procedure and focused on one day at a time,’ she told FEMAIL
Kirstie (pictured) has already begun training for the endurance swim and hopes to cover up to 50km each week in the pool to prepare her body for the gruelling event
‘I scrambled to gather as much information as possible upon learning I had the BRCA gene,’ she said.
‘This amazing organisation has helped and supported me through my BRCA journey and I want to thank them from the bottom of my heart.’
Kirstie has already begun training for the endurance swim and hopes to cover up to 50km each week in the pool to prepare her body for the gruelling event.
Donations can be made here.