Real Life

REAL LIFE: Meet the cousins fighting cancer for their daughters

After cancer swept through their family, cousins Raelee and Lisa vowed to make a difference

By Brigid Auchettl
When cousins Raelee Kingdom and Lisa Lloyd were diagnosed with the cancer-causing BRAC1 gene five years ago, they made a vow, they would do everything possible to prevent getting breast cancer.
After witnessing Raelee's mother, two sisters and their grandmother all be diagnosed with breast cancer, the women knew they had to take action.
"Knowing you have the BRAC gene is extremely upsetting," says Lisa, 48.
"Your anxiety is always high. You feel like cancer is always just around the corner."
Firstly, both women had preventative hysterectomies five years ago.
"It was an easy decision because I've had my kids," says Raelee, 46.
"I wanted to take every step I could to be here for them. I thought I'd be having a mastectomy shortly after as well."
But because of their family history, the women were offered the chance to take part in a new genetic trial that aims to inhibit breast cancer cells, reducing the need for preventative mastectomies 
or hysterectomies.
Cousins Raelee and Lisa are proud to be a part of the Breast Cancer Trials Australia program. (Image: Supplied)
Run by Breast Cancer Trials Australia, the program consists of antibody injections once every six months.
a year I go for a blood test 
and injections," she says. 

"Two days a year is nothing really to gain back years 
of my life or make an impact for my children."
Lisa agrees, saying, "For me, it felt like a new option and a bit of hope. My children are young but in the future, if they test positive, maybe they won't have to worry about having radical surgery. It could change their whole life.
"My hope is that this helps 
to make a difference for 
the next generations in our family and beyond."
Lisa, with her daughter April, 11. (Image: Supplied)
For payroll officer Raelee, the reason behind what she's doing is always at the front of her mind.
Her mother, Kathie, 65, is currently undergoing treatment for breast cancer.
"It's been tough, but she's 
in good spirits," says Raelee.
"She's just completed chemotherapy and radiation and watching her fight, it confirms to me I made the right choice to take preventive measures for myself. I'm glad I'm on top of it now."
Raelee, with her daughter Lilli, 20. (Image: Supplied)
Now, six months into the five-year trial, the women aren't yet sure if it's making 
a difference for them, but 
hope to raise awareness about the new treatment options 
so others can get help in the future.
"I feel proud to be 
part of the trial," Lisa says. 
"It's been great to have Raelee there as a support, I feel very grateful for that."
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month: To find 
out more about Breast Cancer Trials and Join 
the Breastolution, visit breastcancertrials.org.au/breastolution

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