The Nightside is a short film about women of all shapes, sizes, race and age, as they face their battle with BRCA head on.
Defiant, resilient, strong and determined, these women proudly display mastectomy scars, whilst channelling the power and beauty of overcoming breast and ovarian cancer.
Knowing that despite their genetically inherited BRCA gene mutation, they will not be defeated by this insidious disease. This is their collective story.
Lying in bed one night, resting my hands just below my collarbone I felt a tiny bump on my chest, very high, not even really on my breast at all.
I lost my mother to cancer 15 years ago so was already diligent with my health; I went the next day to get a scan. The scan showed a 6mm tumour.
At age 38 I was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer, one of the most aggressive types of breast cancer and occurs more frequently in younger women.
All I could think about was that I wouldn’t get to see my beautiful kids grow up, my nine-year-old son and six-year-old daughter.
I’m sharing my story because l wish I’d had somewhere to read how other women handled the confronting news of being told they’re a carrier of the BRCA 1 gene.
I only found out I’m a carrier because my younger sister Ellie was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer and tested positive to the gene. Three months into Ellie’s chemo treatment I went from being her total support, to being thrown into the firing line.
After watching our mother die of cancer 15 years earlier and spending time in the chemo ward with Ellie, I was determined to use this knowledge to prevent any possibility of ending up in that horrific place.
My name is Naomi Singer and I carry a BRCA 1 gene mutation.
Even though both my paternal grandparents died of cancer, in my mind it wasn’t something I had to worry about. Or so I thought. I had no idea what a BRCA gene mutation was and when I think back, I had little interest.
At age forty-three, I was living life! In 2017 my father’s relative who had breast cancer some years before, discovered she carried the BRCA 1 genetic mutation. My father decided to be tested. I read up on BRCA 1 and if my father were a carrier, all four of us children would have a 50 percent chance of being carriers.
When I found out that I carry the BRCA1 gene mutation, I wasn’t surprised. I knew chances were high because my mom and many members of her family have it too. And while I’m 55 to 65 percent more likely to get breast cancer than someone who doesn’t have the BRCA1 gene it’s a death sentence.
For me, testing positive at age 24 just made my desire to have kids more urgent. Because BRCA1 also predisposes me to ovarian cancer I decided to go through IVF and freeze my eggs. That way, if I do get ovarian cancer and have to remove the whole shebang (my ovaries and fallopian tubes), at least I’ll already have those frozen embryos should I need them.
It’s often the most difficult times in our life we learn from the most. A time when a band aid, antibiotic or a weekly massage just isn’t going to fix it.
Mine was 4 years ago. My mum called, as she usually does several times a day but this time there was silence. Knowing her routine mammogram had been that morning, I feared the worst. Cancer. Breast Cancer.
Our world fell apart in an instant. We entered a very scary world of doctors, a crash course in terminology and fast decision-making. Trying to remain strong and positive for Mum as well as our own families was all consuming. Hours in hospital as Mum underwent several surgeries and chemotherapy felt like a marathon. A race against the cancer. And we all know, not everyone is blessed to win that race. My late grandmother hadn’t.
I remember visiting my mum in the hospital. I was worried and scared to see her for the first time. But she welcomed me in with her big smile and I could see in her eyes that she felt proud of herself. My mum overcame her rollercoaster ride by letting faith be bigger than her fear.
I didn’t think cancer would ever come knocking on our door. But knock loudly it did.
I needed to be there for my family, to support my buba (grandmother) through breast cancer, and my mum and my aunty through BRCA diagnosis.
Witnessing all that my family went through, the surgeries, the treatment, it really affected me. Throughout my whole life I’ve always wanted to do the best for my family. I wanted to make a difference but didn’t really know how.
My name is Sophie and I’m 32 years old.
I’ve been having routine MRI’s since finding out at age 26 I have BRCA2. The catalyst for me to be tested was my cousin being diagnosed with breast cancer at 36.
Further genetic testing revealed it originated on the paternal side of our family—my uncle and grandfather both being carriers and both having had breast cancer in their sixties, and then finally my father testing positive for the gene and passed onto me.
In April 2017, I was due to leave Australia and relocate to Europe so I moved my routine MRI appointment up to ensure I had my scan before I left.Within 2 weeks of my scan I was diagnosed with 3 tumours in my right breast.
At age 21, right before my last year of university, I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer and underwent a thyroidectomy and two rounds of radiation.
Cancer came out of the blue, and while physically I healed quickly, the emotional impact took a toll for longer.
Because of my cancer and my mom’s bout with breast cancer in her early ’30’s, my doctor recommended the BRCA genetic testing. I tested positive for BRCA1 in my late twenties. Those results came during a period when I was unravelling the emotional trauma and PTSD from thyroid cancer.
While I was at first overwhelmed by the BRCA1 mutation diagnosis, I realised, in time, that this information provided the knowledge that offered me personal power to create some semblance of control in my own health story.