After losing her my mum, grandma and great aunt to ovarian cancer all at very young ages, Charley knew there must be a link.
When I was told the news my lip started to go and I was in flood of tears – why me again?
Although they like you to wait and think it over, during that appointment I was referred for a bilateral double mastectomy. I knew it would be my choice if the results were positive.
Why wait? What will I gain by carrying round the ticking time bombs for a few more years?
So at 26 I had my breasts removed this year and it's probably the best decision I have made yet.
"Why wait? What will I gain by carrying round the ticking time bombs for a few more years?"Charley Wood
The main two concerns with BRCA1 are breast and ovarian cancer, now at least one is out of the way. I had reconstruction with implants and they look great, my surgeon was lovely and really helped me feel comfortable with my decision.
They still feel quite alien to me, and I have basically no feeling in them at all. But who cares? I've lowered my risk of breast cancer by so much, what a gift to be able to do that.
Many women are diagnosed with breast cancer and are then told they carry a faulty BRCA gene. That's why it is so important to look at your family history; if there's a pattern look into it if you can.
Next stop ovaries – being 26 I have a little time to think about this.
The thing that plays on my mind daily is that ovarian cancer has no proven regular screening, and no real symptoms I don't carry already anyway (I also have Crohn's disease.)
I'm constantly bloated and get abdominal pains. So ovarian cancer to me is the ultimate fear, as I lost my family members all to ovarian cancer I am at the highest end of the scale into going on to develop this.
I nursed my mum when I was 17, this fear is something I live with everyday for my future.
I underestimated the impact of having the BRCA gene mutation would have on me. It has impacted me psychologically a lot more than I anticipated. It really does play on my mind daily, I also risk passing this onto children when I have them and may have to watch them endure the same process.
Fortunately because I found out about my mutation I will hopefully be around to watch my children grow up; a chance my mum unfortunately didn't get.
I find the hysterectomy a lot more scary than the mastectomy. Losing my breasts hasn't had any consequences other than psychological. But having a total hysterectomy at 35 will fling me straight into the menopause, which I dread.
Even though I have been faced with such tough decisions I still feel incredibly lucky. I have two breasts that nobody would ever know have been through such a journey, a journey that has potentially saved my life and I will be eternally grateful for.
They may have a few scars but they are scars that show determination and courage. I feel lucky to have been armed with knowledge I have and to have been able to act on it. I feel empowered that I made a life changing choice that in no way diminishes my femininity and confidence.
Even though I have been faced with such tough decisions I still feel incredibly lucky
A few days after my double mastectomy I started a blog which has been viewed all over the world over 100,000 times. I did this to try and help other women going through a brca journey.
I have also started up a project providing surgical drain bags for patients undergoing double mastectomies.
Breast and ovarian cancers take lives everyday – knowledge and action can help the premature loss of those who love us, and those we love in return.