Cancer survivor campaigns for the early detection of the BRCA gene
A courageous cancer survivor raises awareness of a rare genetic mutation most commonly found in people of Ashkenazi descent.
Louise Ben-Nathan, 42, from Ealing, recently went into remission after being diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer.
The rare form of breast cancer may be linked to a mutation in the BRCA gene, carried by about one in 40 Ashkenazi Jews, who are 10 times more likely to inherit it.
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Louise’s mother and grandmother were both diagnosed with cancers often associated with the genetic mutation, but she discovered the risk following her diagnosis at the age of 40.
The former camera assistant described her surprise when her consultant asked if she was Jewish, suggesting she might be a BRCA mutant. “I thought ‘I became a member of the Avengers or something,’ Louise joked, during an interview with Jewish News.
Louise, who worked in film and television for 20 years, was planning a trip abroad when she found a lump in her left breast in January of last year.
“I was very lucky because I might have worked on a movie that was filming overseas when I found my ball in the shower,” she said. “I was slightly horrified because I knew that if I had been overseas I probably would have ignored this.
“I just thought, ‘I’d better take a test before I go on a trip,’ she said. “I came up saying ‘it’s just a cyst, which I once had,’ and all of a sudden things didn’t go as planned.
Louise received chemotherapy, radiation therapy, lumpectomy and double mastectomy to treat her rare form of cancer not sensitive to hormone replacement therapy.
She’s on the road to full recovery and tells its story to raise awareness of the potential risk. “I’m trying to get the Jewish community to talk about our health and take the time to get things checked out,” she said. “Because it does if you find things early on, then the chances of them being dealt with are much higher.”
To that end, and in order to raise money for cancer research, Louise is hosting a casino-themed fundraising night at a location in North West London on November 3rd. She has hired a professional dealer company for the event which will also include roulette tables, blackjack, poker and dice. The prizes will include a weekend with a BMW and an iPad.
She is also planning an auction of signed bottles on the Instagram account. @ cheers2charity, with celebrities Judi Dench, Damian Hill, Phoebe Waller-Bridge all ready to participate.
All proceeds will go to the Cancer Research Institute and Chai Cancer Care, the charity that supported Louise during her cancer journey.
You can find out more about the event at www.chaicancercare.org/get-involved/events.