Walk or run for breast cancer research this Mother’s Day

| May 8, 2015

Thousands of people across Australia will come together to celebrate Mother’s Day by raising funds for breast cancer research this Sunday. Steph Briggs-Killick shares her very personal journey to becoming a passionate supporter.

I did not want to live with the threat of breast cancer hanging over me, so I took decisive action. In January this year I underwent a preventative double mastectomy and reconstruction. For me, this was about taking action against a strong genetic background of breast cancer on my mother’s side of the family, as well as non-genetic breast cancer on my father’s side (my aunt).

I am from a long line of women who have had breast cancer – some are survivors and some have not won the fight against breast cancer. My mother’s mum died of breast cancer at age 40, my mother was also diagnosed with breast cancer at age 40 – she’s 55 now and in good health.

This story involved me when my mum tested positively for carrying the faulty BRCA2 gene. Mum’s three sisters and one brother were also tested for the gene mutation and were told they did not carry the faulty gene. Many of mum’s cousins and extended family have tested positive for the gene mutation.

At 21, I decided to be genetically tested, which involved counselling, blood tests and more counselling before I was able to receive her gene results. In 2012 I found out from a genetic councillor that I was also a carrier of the faulty BRCA2 gene. This was a hard blow, but in a way I think the news hit my Mum harder than me. I am an only child and I had a 50% chance of also being a carrier of the faulty BRCA2 gene. She was with me when I got the result, and as a Mum she felt guilt even though it was nothing she could control.

After years of deliberation, counselling, thought and time I decided on preventative surgery. This was not an easy decision but one I had been spent years preparing for, and my family have been very supportive.

Determined not to let this health issue define me, I wanted to take control, and I’ve been very open with my family, friends and work colleagues about this decision. I threw a Bye Bye Boobie party. I see my decision as a chance to take charge of my health. It’s a big step, but I see it as a blessing that will bring me peace of mind.

The Bye Bye Boobie party was a celebration with my closest friends, the ones who had provided support for me during this tough time. We had singlets made and had many questions asked about why we were wearing these shirts. I saw this as an opportunity to help share my story, inform others on genetic mutations and hoped that people would gain some understanding into the decisions so many women like myself have to face. I also got one of my best friends to take some “before” photos as a keepsake memory of how the journey began.

A few friends think my actions are a bit extreme, but it’s important that people know I have had counselling and have given this years of consideration – they should consider not just making off the cuff statements or trying to give advice on issues that they may not be informed about.

I’m very passionate about providing women with information about breast cancer and helping the National Breast Cancer Foundation fund important research. One of the ways I do this is being involved in the Mother’s Day Classic.

It is such a fabulous cause, and the Mother’s Day Classic is a very enjoyable experience. In 2014 I rallied a group of about 20 friends and family, and we raised close to $5000. I would love to make an even bigger and better contribution in 2015.



  1. Max Thomas

    Max Thomas

    May 11, 2015 at 4:25 am

    Breast cancer research

    I rode the prostate cancer 'roundabout' some years ago, Steph, and I can relate to what you've said in the blog. I'm sure it will help and inspire others. All we can do is inform ourselves as best we can and then decide on a course of action. I elected for surgery; others might decide on a different course for valid reasons of their own. I admire your courage and selflessness. Be happy and well.