Lover of everything that nourishes her soul - especially poached eggs, dark chocolate, hill sprints and her hubby.
What is Empowerment?
Empowerment can be defined as the process to increase an individual or groups capacity in making informed decisions, which will result in better control over a particular situation, usually ones life.
This can be used in quite a broard sense as empowerment can be applied to every aspect of your life. For example, attending high school or university is empowering you to choose what direction you would like to follow in terms of a career. Deciding that you are going to commit to three exercise sessions a week for the next 3 months is taking an empowering step to ensuring you are fit and capable of physical activity. Standing up to an unfair colleague at work can be empowering, in that their actions and/or words are acknowledged, but then similar situations in the future can be avoided.
And in my personal instance, taking a blood test for the BRCA1 gene mutation was going to empower me to make decisions around my long term health.
The BRCA1 gene is a gene mutatuon that is directly related to breast cancer, ovarian cancer and prostate cancer in men. Everyone carries the BRCA1 gene, but in some families the gene has mutated so that it is unable to do it's job effectively - that is fighting off cancer causing cells in the body.
Have you heard about Angelina Jolie in the papers over the past couple of years? She's opened up about inheriting this exact same gene, and the steps she has taken to ensure she will be around for as long as she possibly can be for her children. Mastectomy and ovaries removed were the headlines that hit the papers around Angelina. While she did keep it on the down low to begin with, she has now opened up to the procedures she's had, and the turmoil she's been through.
I knew taking the blood test would be a life changing moment, I would either be told yes or no - it was that clear. I had a 50% chance of having the mutation being passed on to me, or not. It was something I could be born with, not something that could develop over time. The actual gene mutation is what has developed over time - throughout the generations of my family. Gradually the BRCA1 gene has been damaged (for a number of reasons - what exactly I don't think anyone will know) and as genes have been passed through my family, I have inherited this little one.
Who can help?
Do you think you might have a strong family history of breast, ovarian or prostate cancer? Don't keep youself wondering! There are some great organisations in New Zealand and Australia that could point you in the right direction.
Below are a collection of support networks and information hubs that could help you decide if you might want some genetic testing done, or even just to empower yourself by learning how to find out what is normal for you, or what some changes are that you need to look out for.