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So why am I making this project?

One in eight Australian women will develop Breast Cancer1. Wow, this information makes you pause to think. However a gentle reminder that this is by age 85 puts the statistic in better perspective.   But this stat relates the general population, what if you’re genetically at high risk of developing breast cancer? That could mean your lifetime risk is more like 1 in 32. Now that makes me draw in my breath – what does that actually mean and how would you know?  

Well, for me, I do not have a family history of breast cancer so it’s not something that will impact on my personal health any more than another average gal. So it’s fair enough if you’re wondering ‘why make this project?’

I guess it comes down to this- I have friends and they have families and at a quick count I can think of at least three who have been directly impacted by a breast cancer diagnosis. That’s the thing, breast cancer doesn’t just affect the patient, it affects the whole family, their friends and their broader community.

Truth be told, my curiosity about this issue really came up in the first instance because about two years ago I received a phone call at work.  ‘Hi, my name is Dyna and I have a high risk of developing breast cancer, I am struggling to work out my options and was wondering if the journey is something worth documenting because it’s hard to find information and it might help someone else?”   My first thought was, oh sure, breast cancer I know a lot about that. “Actually did you say high risk… because now I’m trying to draw on my knowledge bank and it’s blank and I’m doubting I know anything about this at all. Tell me more.”

As a filmmaker, this story got me thinking.  It’s a sea of pink out there constantly reminding us about breast cancer and we all want ourselves and loved ones to be safe so we donate to show support and enable research, but do we actually know what this disease is? What our personal risk is?  Or if it can even be prevented?   What if you found out your breasts had an increased or high risk of developing cancer? You’re young and you haven’t started your family just yet, so do you tell your boyfriend? Maybe you’re already married with three kids so your boobs have done their job, do you have a mastectomy? Or do you do nothing and hope for the best, after all there’s no certainty you’ll get breast cancer. Are you able to ‘just put it out of your mind’?

These are big and emotional decisions and being able to get good advice and answers is really important. That’s what the A Stitch In Time film project is going to explore. I for one had no idea what being at ‘increased or high risk’ even meant before Dyna called me and I embarked on this project, let alone ‘genetic predisposition’. But apparently up to 5% of breast cancers are due to a faulty gene3. This generates a good deal of stress for families when they learn of a breast cancer diagnosis in a relative and have to consider what that might mean for them.

Through personal stories we’re going to take you on a journey of discovery to find out how genetic risk is assessed, where you can find information and what options are available to women at increased risk for breast cancer.  There is a lot of information available if you search online but finding answers that are directly related to you and your situation is not so easy. A statistic can’t tell you about how you feel or answer questions, however watching another women share her story can help you connect and learn through their experience.

This is important stuff, one less woman with breast cancer equals one less family devastated. It’s often said that knowledge is power and when it comes to health it’s critical to know your options in order to make informed decisions. And with familial breast cancer, a stitch in time really could save nine.

You can read more about Dyna’s journey Dyna’s Story

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If you have any questions you need help with or would like to share an insight, please leave comment or add to the conversation below. You can also email astitchintimefilm@gmail.com

Many Thanks!

Sue Collins – Producer/Director



Statistic’s cited are sourced from:

1. Cancer Council Australia http://www.cancer.org.au/about-cancer/types-of-cancer/breast-cancer.html
2. Pink Hope http://pinkhope.org.au/am-i-at-risk/understand-your-risk/
3. Cancer Council Victoria http://www.cancervic.org.au/how-we-can-help/family-cancer/genetics-breast-cancer