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Understanding BRCA: Living with the Breast Cancer Gene

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Do you have a close relative who has died from, or is experiencing, aggressive breast, ovarian or prostate cancer? Have they been tested for the BRCA gene mutation? Have you? At the age of 35 and following the death of her mother from ovarian cancer, Clarissa Foster was found to carry a harmful mutation in the BRCA2 gene which drastically increased her risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer. She searched for a book that would help her to understand the full extent of what it meant to carry a harmful mutation, the options available to her to lower her risk and, most importantly, how it would feel to undergo preventive surgery. Finding nothing that answered her needs she set about reading all the available medical literature and liaising with relevant medical professionals to answer her questions. This book is the result of that research and of the decision she took based on it - to have a full mastectomy and oophorectomy. Within the context of her own painful experience of family cancer and of elective surgery, Clarissa explains what the BRCA mutation is, what it signifies, what the individual's choices are and what the fall out can be in terms of a woman's body image, identity and sexuality.

260 pages, Kindle Edition

Published November 13, 2017

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Displaying 1 - 11 of 11 reviews
Profile Image for Emily.
237 reviews6 followers
February 10, 2019
Clear, well-researched and seemingly the only book of its kind, this is a must-read if you’re a BRCA carrier. I’m American, so this had more statistics on British women than was necessary for me, but she also includes the relevant data on American women. Moreover it was interesting to hear her experiences with the NHS (not to mention the tea served in the hospital to raise her spirits). Thanks for writing this book!
Profile Image for Amy Shainman.
Author 1 book108 followers
July 17, 2019
FINALLY finished reading this Clarissa! As an advocate providing education, advocacy, and support surrounding BRCA and other hereditary cancer syndromes, I truly appreciate the time and effort that it took you to complete this amazing book/BRCA resource. Women and men in the UK will absolutely benefit from the all of the guidelines specific to the UK. Others will benefit from the information regarding BRCA mutations. I will be recommending this. Unbelievable glossary, appendix, resources, and index.
1 review
November 24, 2017
I highly recommend this book to all carriers of a mutated BRCA gene or to their family. The author has done a fantastic job explaining the facts, science and options in a clear way for us non-medical people.
Her account of her own journey is transparent and emotional and many of us will recognise ourselves in this.
Above all, she states all the options we have and all the things to consider in terms of monitoring/prevention/curing etc.. I found it incredibly valuable for my own case.
A must have! Go and buy it for yourself or for friends who have the gene mutation.
3 reviews
December 10, 2018
Fantastic and reassuring

A must read for any BRCA mutation carrier. Overwhelmingly positive and very easy to read. Highly recommend. Saved me from trawling through many hours of medical papers that I’m not qualified to understand.
December 31, 2019
If you are someone you love has BRCA1/2 stop what you’re doing and read this book now. I was diagnosed on Dec 4th and spent almost a month trying to wrap my head around the basic science of it, trying to understand what my specific mutation meant, just trying to understand. I searched the Internet, joined FB groups, but THIS book...it put my mind at ease so quickly. It’s well written from a fellow BRCA lady’s point of view with her own personal journey while explaining the science behind it. She understands how we as BRCA ladies feel, the struggles, the roller coaster of emotions. I read the book within 24 hours and know I’ll be reading it again as I face the same surgeries she faced. I’d give this book 10 stars if I could.
1 review
May 23, 2022
This book is like a survival guide to BRCA. I found it in my local bookshop a few years ago after finding out about my own BRCA status, and to this day refer back to it with questions I have about BRCA. Clarissa presents information in a way that is super easy to understand, and provides insights into areas of BRCA that I hadn't considered before. I also really loved the personal story - the book really is an all-rounder. I highly recommend this book and have regularly lent it to friends that are coming to terms with BRCA, and they've all gone on to pick up their own copies. If you are new to BRCA, or have any unanswered questions about BRCA, this book is your go-to!
Profile Image for Joyce.
79 reviews2 followers
September 21, 2019
Good information in this book. I am BRCA2 but did not find out until after my second breast cancer diagnosis. Anyone who has been tested and carries the gene should read this book. The author lives in England and was 35 when she did preventative surgeries. It is a journey!
1 review1 follower
June 12, 2021
Must read for anyone living with BRCA

Just about everything you need to know and from the point of view of someone who has lived it. Informative and inspirational in equal measure. Required reading for anyone living with BRCA.
Profile Image for Jody.
188 reviews54 followers
January 24, 2021
After finding out I was BRCA2 positive I researched everything I could find. This was the clearest and most comprehensive book I found. If you’re going through a BRCA diagnosis this is a wonderful place to start getting your head around what it all means.
35 reviews
October 6, 2020
What a wonderful book! The author begins by sharing her experiences with her Mother's ovarian cancer. Then the majority of the book is a lengthy, yet very readable overview of all things BRCA, cancer, statistics, surgery, and outcomes. Finally finishing with the author's own Previvor story of hope.

I feel like this has become my own little BRCA desk reference guide. The information is medical, but you don't get weighed down by numbers or hard to understand medical terminology. She's done a great job making it "user friendly" if you will. Thank you Clarissa Foster!
Displaying 1 - 11 of 11 reviews

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