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At 21, Jess said her final goodbyes to Mum Joanna. Nobody in their immediate family had breast cancer, so the devastating disease seemingly came out of nowhere.
“My mum had an aggressive triple negative breast cancer which was caused by a faulty BRCA 1 gene,” said Jess.
“She fought through her treatment with the most unimaginable strength, resolution and humour,” she remembered.
Had Joanna been aware she had the BRCA1 gene mutation – that puts you at higher risk of developing cancer – she may have sought medical advice sooner.
At the time of her diagnosis, in 2017, Joanna forked out £1,600 to privately be tested for BRCA.
As she had no close relatives with the condition, Joanna wasn’t eligible for the BRCA test on the NHS.
Facing a shocking breast cancer diagnosis propelled her to do all she could for her children she was leaving behind.
While undergoing treatment, Joanna urged her daughter, Jess, to undergo genetic testing.
Aged 46, Joanna had passed away departing wisdom onto her three kids: knowledge is power.
Jess’s test came back positive, she too has the faulty BRAC1 gene, but armed with that insight, Jess isn’t fearful.
“It has now given me the active choice to seek prevention,” she explained.
“In memory of my incredible mum, I am setting up the Jo Fine BRCA Campaign, which will raise awareness of BRCA genes and inform people of preventive solutions.”
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Jess hopes to set up a trust fund, whereby financial donations enable people to take the BRCA test when they otherwise wouldn’t qualify for free testing.
“Having a genetic BRCA test before her cancer manifested would have saved Mum’s life,” Jess protested.
“And it is my mission to prevent others going through what she went through.”
Jess is now a health research manager at DNA testing organisation Myogenes.
The organisation will be donating 10 percent from the sales of its Hereditary Breast Cancer Tests to the Pink Ribbon Foundation.
This home-testing kit collects DNA from saliva, which is then sent off to a laboratory to be tested for the faulty BRCA gene.
The CEO of Myogenes, Clare Brenner, said: “At Myogenes, we passionately believe that a change is needed in our approach to medicine.
“Genetic testing should be a first step, paving the way for creating a personalised treatment plan for the patient.”
Speaking of Jess, Clare stated it was an “honour” to have Jess on her team.
“Jess is a wonderful young woman with a moving and inspirational story of the heartache caused by breast cancer.
“Via genetic testing, Jess was able to take this experience and make proactive and decisive decisions about her health and future.”
At present, it’s estimated that one in 400 people in the UK carry the faulty gene.
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