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Claira Hermets’ Story
My name is Claira Hermet. I’m a presenter on BBC Radio 1Xtra and BT Sport. I’m also the carrier of the BRCA 1 gene which gives me an 85% life chance of getting breast cancer.
So, on 15 January 2015, I’m having my boobs removed and reconstructed. I’ve chosen to share my story and my journey with as many people as I possibly can and the beginning seems like a good place to start.
When I was nine years old my mummy died of breast cancer leaving a big hole of mine and my families lives. I know her death changed the course of your lives forever.
That’s not where my story with breast cancer ends because my big sister, who was my best friend, was diagnosed with breast cancer at 25 and died six and half years later after a gruelling battle with the disease.
Sadly, my mum hadn’t been tested for the BRCS gene mutation which is recognised hereditary gene mutation that gives the carrier an 85-87% life chance of getting the disease. However my sister, once she had cancer, could be tested for the gene and when her test came back positive for BRCA2 I was then asked if I wanted to have the test.
I honestly thought I would never have the gene. Even my sister said she doubted I would because I took after my dad’s side of the family and she took after mum’s. I had the test and a few weeks later went back for the results. I was so confident I wouldn’t have it despite offers from people to come with me I went on my own.
When I was told I had the gene I said I was fine. As I sat there listening (I say ‘listening’ …to be honest I didn’t hear a word) to the lady tell me about my choices I was just focused on holding back the tears.
I left that day wondering how, with my sister so ill, I would tell my family. I did tell them. I attended a BRCS clinic where I met a surgeon and other gene carriers. I found out a double mastectomy was pretty much the only preventive measure.
Armed with this information I went and got on with my life. I always said to myself I would be in a steady, stable and loving relationship when I did this. That way no matter how I looked afterwards that person would still love me.
But instead I’m single. I don’t have kids, in fact, I won’t have kids until this done. My worse fear is having children and having to leave them.
Removing my breast tissue will reduce my chances of getting breast cancer from 85% to around 4 %. I want to SHARE the journey with as many people as possible.
As the operation draws closer I have had doubts and fears. I felt confused and scared but mostly I have felt overwhelmingly that this is the right choice for me. I worry about the petty things like, ‘How they’ll look?’ or ‘Will I still feel sexy?’ and then I smile.
I smile because in comparison to being alive these kind of thoughts really aren’t a big deal. I love those thoughts. They remind me exactly why I’m doing this and how very important it is for me to share my story with other people in the hope they too can rationalise their fears and feel empowered, in control and confident.
One thing I have learnt is that we get this life once. I’ve spent a lot of it feeling sad and unhappy.
My sister’s death was a turning point. She doesn’t have her life but I have mine. I have and will continue to strive to make my life one of happiness, positivity and purpose.
Peace, love and positivity.