[Skip to content]

Print this page

Inpatient experiences

"Cancer had plagued my family...that’s why I had both breasts removed.

Now I can look forward to a future with my friends and family"

“I’m not brave and I’m no hero – I just saved my life and stopped breast cancer from ruining it.”

When doctors from Derby Hospitals discovered she’d been born with a gene fault that may increase the risk of breast cancer, Sharon knew she had to take action.

Surgeons at the Royal Derby Hospital agreed to perform the bilateral risk-reducing mastectomy after investigating her family history. Over the years, five members of Sharon’s family had battled breast cancer including her mum and three of her mum’s sisters.

But since undergoing preventative surgery, Sharon said she’d never felt happier with life. “From the moment I decided to have my breasts removed, I knew it was the right thing to do,” she said. “Breast cancer has affected so many of my relatives’ lives; I didn’t want it to take mine.

“We talked through about how the operation would work and what he’d do. I talked to the nurses about the implants that would be used for the reconstruction. I was even able to hold one and see what it felt like. Nothing was too much trouble for everyone. I was treated really well.”

Research suggests that carriers of the faulty genes, BRAC1 and BRAC2, have between a 55 and 85 per cent chance of getting breast cancer

in their lifetime. Being born with one of these genes increases the risk of breast cancer but it still doesn’t mean that women will necessarily get it.

“We talked and talked about it but I knew what I had to do. I knew I had to have a double mastectomy,” she said.

“It wasn’t a brave decision – it was a life-saving one. I didn’t want to get cancer. I had to have my breasts off. I knew it wouldn’t make a difference to how I felt about myself. I had to be sensible.

Sharon had two operations at the Royal Derby Hospital. The first procedure removed all the tissue from inside the breast and fitted an “inflator” which slowly stretches the muscles ready for implants. The second operation, six months later, fitted silicon implants to give the breast a full shape.

Sharon regularly talks to women in Derby who are considering having the same operation, as she believes Mr Sibbering, the surgeon helped save her life.

“I don’t think I did anything more than other women might do if they were in my shoes. I fought it before I got it – that’s all.”

Story extract courtesy of Derby Telegraph reporter Wendy Roberts.