WE ARE told that more than one in three people will develop some form of cancer during their lifetime.
But for some people, including Dorridge-born Katie King, this figure is much higher.
With an 88 per cent chance of contracting breast cancer, the account manager is preparing to undergo a preventative double mastectomy – just years after her own mother went under knife of controversial ‘cleavage-sparing’ breast surgeon Ian Paterson.
Katie decided to get tested for the ‘cancer gene’ after both her mother – former St Alphege School teacher, Cheryl King – and grandmother were given secondary, unrelated cancer diagnoses after already beating the disease once before.
Testing positive for the BRCA2+ gene Katie was told she has a one in ten chance of not getting cancer.
But rather than face her diagnosis alone, the 31-year-old has created an online platform for other men and women in the same position.
“When people find out they have the gene it is very frightening,” Katie said.
“Someone is basically telling you that if you don’t do something, you’re going to get cancer.”
Katie set up ‘Previvour’ – an online blog, vlog and social media pages where other people with the gene, including men and women undergoing mastectomies, can meet and share their hopes, fears and experiences.
Speaking about the inspiration behind ‘Previvour’, Katie told the Observer: “Firstly, I want to raise awareness that anyone can get tested for the gene.
“It was only a few years ago that the NHS allowed anyone to take the test, as it used to be that you needed to have living relatives with a history of cancer to be eligible for it.
“Secondly, I want to provide people with information which will empower them through the same process.
“Often when people find out they can become depressed and overeat like I did – so I’m very open about my good and bad experiences and try and guide people through that with recipes, exercise routines and fashion tips to help with insecurities and irregularities from surgery.”
On top of her devastating diagnosis, Katie has also had to face her fears as the child of an Ian Paterson patient.
Urging Solihull residents to put aside their stigmas and concerns, Katie argues that everyone has the right to be referred to a different doctor and that she researched and met a number of surgeons before finding one she was comfortable with.
And with her surgery scheduled for the end of October, Katie hopes her story will inspire local people to take the test, take control and ‘out-smart their cancer genetics’.
“A positive diagnosis is obviously an emotional time for people,” she said, “but that does not mean it needs to be a lonely experience.
“It’s a very British thing to be afraid to ask questions or inconvenience people, but I want to encourage people to get in contact – even if they’re just confused about the initial test.
“If it’s not your friends of family that you feel comfortable talking to, then I hope I’ve helped bring together an impartial and understanding community of people who will will help.
“Because at the end of the day, we’re all friends here and early detection could save your life.”