‘Carrier’ Leanne tells of a double mastectomy to beat genetic odds

LEANNE: ‘You should get tested’

LEANNE Kaye describes herself as a “previvor”.

The Mancunian, who has lived in Israel for the last 10 years, defines the word — a blend of “pre” and “survivor” — as an “unaffected carrier of cancer, who has not been diagnosed with it but has survived the predisposition or high risk due to certain genetic mutations”.

In short, Leanne is a carrier of the BRCA gene, which meant she was at a higher risk of developing breast cancer or ovarian cancer.

Two years ago, she underwent a double mastectomy, along with the removal of growths, in a bid to beat the genetic odds.

Leanne, who turns 38 tomorrow, has written I’m A Previvor: My Secret Legacy, a motivational memoir about her life journey, from a young woman who lost her mother to breast cancer, to a young mother who gave up her breasts to save herself from the same fate.

“I want people to know there is something you can do about breast cancer and you should do it — get tested,” she said.

“Secondly, I want people to stop thinking of breast cancer as a ‘good cancer’, because breast cancer kills. I cannot emphasise it enough.”

The book chronicles her mother Gloria’s diagnosis, remission and death from breast cancer in June, 2001.

Ra’anana-based Leanne, who is mum to Dylan, Ethan and Yoni, said: “I was tested for the BRCA gene when I was 16 and then 20, but nothing was conclusive.

“When I was again tested at 35, I was told there was a high chance that I was BRCA positive.

“I chose to have a mastectomy because it removed the option of years of MRI scans and blood tests and living with that fear.

“It was not something I wanted, so it felt like the safest option for me.

“Statistically, 80 to 90 per cent of people with BRCA are likely to get breast cancer before the age of 45.”

The former Manchester King David High School pupil read midwifery at the University of Birmingham.

Once in Israel, Sunnybank-raised Leanne, whose father, Harvey, lives in Whitefield, established Pregnant in the City, which provided Israel-specific information on pregnancy. And she became passionate about sharing her story.

Leanne explained: “I realised how many people don’t acknowledge their own health and don’t know their risk levels when it comes to familial diseases.

“The book is my mum’s legacy. She was a giving and warm woman, who also did her bit in reaching out to those with breast cancer and offering support.”

Leanne, a creative consultant, will be giving talks in America, Canada and the UK, as well as Israel.

And she has been invited to do a prestigious TED Talk, in New York, later in the year.

“They found me through my Instagram account,” Leanne added.

“They loved the idea of an Anglo-Israeli author writing about this subject, as Israel is leading the way in the development of genetic research.”

She is also due to have a hysterectomy next year, as the BRCA gene poses a higher risk of ovarian cancer, too.

“It is a dangerous and silent killer,” Leanne said.

“There has been a constant question mark and quiet murmur about it in the back of my mind and the risk factor would jump when I am 40.

“I may also write a book about it.”

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