“I didn’t want to live in fear” – A Canadian shares her story of getting a double mastectomy at 24

When Meghan was 22 years old, she had just finished her bachelor’s degree in civil engineering and was beginning an exciting career. Although Meghan’s career was off to a promising start, this new chapter was also marked with difficult decisions that would change her life. During this time, Meghan learned she had a genetic mutation that increased her risk of breast cancer and started looking at options to manage this risk.

Meghan in her hospital bed
This is Meghan's story

A family history

Every year, an estimated 27,000 Canadian women will be diagnosed with breast cancer. For Meghan, one of these women was her grandmother, who was diagnosed with breast cancer 3 times.

“My grandmother’s sister also died from breast cancer, so when my grandmother had breast cancer for the third time, she decided to get a genetic test,” explained Meghan. “The test revealed that she carried a hereditary genetic mutation that put her at high risk of breast cancer. Soon after, my mom also did the genetic test and found out she had the same genetic mutation.”

Knowing that there was a high possibility that the genetic mutation could be passed down to her, Meghan decided to do the test which revealed that she was also a carrier of the genetic mutation.

An empowering decision

After learning about her risk of breast cancer, Meghan planned to get regular breast cancer screenings and undergo a mastectomy after she had children. But when her mom was diagnosed with cervical cancer in 2018, Meghan wanted to take extra preventative measures for her future.

“It hit me that with so many other things to worry about in life, if I can manage this one risk, why wait?” explains Meghan.

Meghan began exploring different options with her healthcare team and discussed what would be best for her and her health. After learning more about her options, Meghan decided to undergo a preventative mastectomy, a procedure that removes all the breast to lower the risk of breast cancer developing.

“I didn’t want to live in fear,” Meghan explains. “Now, I don't need to do any screenings or monitoring for breast cancer at all, aside from regular physical exams.”

Today, Meghan encourages other Canadians to speak to their healthcare team and take control of their own health. Whether it’s learning more about your family health history or making healthy choices like eating well – there are a number of options to reduce your cancer risk.

“Knowing you're at high risk for breast cancer allows you to take control and make decisions that will change the course of your life,” says Meghan. “Yes, choosing to have a double mastectomy at 24 was scary and difficult, but it was empowering to know that it was my choice, on my time.”

Fundraising to change the future of breast cancer

Meghan understands the effects cancer can have on families. That’s why she participates at the Canadian Cancer Society CIBC Run for the Cure, the largest volunteer-led event in Canada that raises awareness and funds for the breast cancer cause.

Meghan first became involved with the CIBC Run for the Cure in honour of her grandmother when she was in high school. She continued to participate at the Run throughout university. After deciding to get a mastectomy, Meghan wanted to take her fundraising efforts one step further, so in 2018, she created a team called ‘thx for the mammaries!!’.
Meaghan’s CIBC Run for the Cure team called "thx for the mammaries.”
Meaghan’s CIBC Run for the Cure team called "thx for the mammaries!!

“I started this team as a means of channelling my anxious pre-surgery energy into something productive and fun,” says Meghan. “I gathered a group of friends and family to support me and made the decision to share openly about my mastectomy through my fundraising efforts.”

With the support of her family and friends, Meghan was able to raise over $20,000 in 2 years to help fund groundbreaking breast cancer research!

It’s because of the funds Canadians raise through events like the CIBC Run for the Cure that we know more than ever before how to prevent, diagnose, treat and live with and beyond breast cancer. Although significant progress has been made, there’s still so much more to be done.

With your support, we can fund the best breast cancer research, provide the largest cancer support system in the country and advocate on behalf of all Canadians for important social change.