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Woman, 31, 'learning to love body again' after choosing double mastectomy

PUBLISHED: 06:30 06 February 2020 | UPDATED: 11:10 06 February 2020

Christen Williams, 31, who has had a double mastectomy to prevent breast cancer after her mum, Pauline, died from the disease, and now makes a vlog to help other women. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Christen Williams, 31, who has had a double mastectomy to prevent breast cancer after her mum, Pauline, died from the disease, and now makes a vlog to help other women. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Copyright: Archant 2020

A 31-year-old woman has told how she is learning to love her body again - two months after a double mastectomy that she chose to have.

Pauline Williams (right), from Worthing in West Sussex, who died of a rare form of ovarian cancer in 2015 aged 62. She is pictured with her daughter Christen Williams, who lives in Hellesdon, and had a double mastectomy in December 2019. Picture: Sent in by Christen WilliamsPauline Williams (right), from Worthing in West Sussex, who died of a rare form of ovarian cancer in 2015 aged 62. She is pictured with her daughter Christen Williams, who lives in Hellesdon, and had a double mastectomy in December 2019. Picture: Sent in by Christen Williams

Christen Williams, from Hellesdon in Norwich, said the decision to have her breasts removed and replaced with implants at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital was a "no-brainer".

It came after a test in 2015 revealed she had a mutated BReast CAncer (BRCA) gene.

The domestic abuse change co-ordinator was at risk of developing breast cancer and she found out the shocking news aged 27, weeks after her 62-year-old mother Pauline Williams died from ovarian cancer. Her mother had the same mutated gene.

Miss Williams said: "After my operation I was so relieved I wasn't going to die from breast cancer. The operation wasn't as painful as I thought it would be. It is about learning to love your body again."

Before the procedure she started a YouTube vlog offering support for women having mastectomies as a preventative measure or after a breast cancer diagnosis.

Miss Williams added: "It is to help raise awareness of the topic of BRCA genes.

"It is to start a conversation and reassure women about the process. It is what I would have wanted before I went through my mastectomy. I'm very passionate about it. I have been blown away by people who have contacted me saying I have helped them.

"I think it is becoming more common for young women to have a mastectomy but it does vary according to different counties.

She went on: "There were times when I was confused, upset and scared but the fear and anxiety is worse than the actual event. I have reached out to a lot of women who felt like they were alone after finding out about a BRCA gene mutation but they are not."

Miss Williams described her self-titled vlog as positive and since June 2019 she has made 10 videos covering topics including explaining the BRCA gene, what to pack for hospital, the recovery period and post-operation exercises.

She hoped to speak to other women who had had mastectomies, as well as men impacted by a BRCA gene that can cause cancer, in future vlogs and also posts Instagram stories about her ongoing experience through @brcachatter.

"It is about being positive and hearing different stories."

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