Breast Cancer claims the lives of more women in the UK than any other disease. 1 in 9 women will contract it at some point in their lives. 12,000 women die from it each year. In My Breasts Could Kill Me writer and TV presenter Dawn Porter embarks on a very personal and emotional journey that explores the nature of breast cancer and the treatments, stigmas and genetics connected to the illness. Dawn’s own mother and great-grandmother died as young women from the disease and in these two films, Dawn will discover whether she herself is genetically predisposed to developing it.
Over three months, Dawn meets women (and men) who suffer from breast cancer, as well as undergoing tests herself – a mammogram, an MRI scan, and a genetic test – to ascertain if she has the precursors to the illness. The thought of finding out if she is genetically predisposed to breast cancer is a terrifying thought, and presents Dawn with the genuine prospect of having a pre-emptive, voluntary mastectomy.
The danger for Dawn is considerable. Even before she embarks on any tests, Dawn discovers that her family history gives her a 40% chance of developing breast cancer. But the tests may reveal even greater risk. Of the faulty genes she may have inherited, the most critical are called BRCA1 and BRCA2. Given her family history, the chance of Dawn having inherited faults in these genes is 50/50. And if the faults are present, she has an 80% chance of contracting breast cancer. The genetic test results may therefore give Dawn an unenviable decision: whether to remove her breasts in order to prevent cancer developing in the first place.
Dawn Porter; “Breast cancer doesn’t only affect middle aged women. It affects young women like Kris, Liz and Becky and young fit men like Jon. I want to raise awareness of the disease and change people’s perceptions. I’ve wanted to make this film ever since I started working in TV. I feel like it’s the most personal journey I’ve been on, and despite the often distressing moments for myself and contributors during filming I have never felt such satisfaction with a project. It has been an inspiring and exciting series. I hope it will educate, inform and offer a different perspective on breast cancer.”
Throughout filming Dawn was referred to Europe’s first purpose-built breast cancer prevention centre (The Nightingale and Genesis Prevention Centre in Manchester), where she was assessed by one of the country’s leading experts on the genetic causes of breast cancer, Professor Gareth Evans.
Along the way Dawn meets many inspiring people whose lives have been changed forever because of their relationship with breast cancer. These include:
· A mother and daughter who have both had elective mastectomy’s and were the first and youngest to have this type of surgery in the UK.
· A 23 year old who was continually told she did not have cancer only to be told she had, and it had metastasised in her spine. She is now encouraging young women to “Coppafeel” at festivals across the UK and check themselves,
· A 32 year old man who has had to come to terms with having a “woman’s” disease and the stigma’s attached to this including attaining the nickname ‘Johnny One Boob’.
· A 29 year old woman who has become a lingerie model focussing on underwear for women who have had breast surgery.
Emotional, informative and hopefully life-saving, My Breasts Could Kill Me is an eye opening, heart-wrenching and uplifting investigation into an all-too-common killer.
My Breasts Could Kill Me will air on Sky1 and Sky1 HD on Monday 6th and Tuesday 7th July at 10pm.