'I'm here, that's what counts': Your stories

Woman covers her breast

Hollywood actress Angelina Jolie has undergone a double mastectomy to reduce her chances of getting breast cancer.

The 37-year-old mother of six said her doctors estimated she had an 87% risk of breast cancer and a 50% risk of ovarian cancer.

A number of women who have been in a similar position and undergone surgery have spoken to the BBC News website.

Natasha Foster, Blakedown

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You're not prepared for how you feel afterwards”

End Quote Natasha Foster

I am so glad such a high profile celebrity has shared this as there is not as much awareness and support for younger women making these huge decisions when they are healthy.

I was 35 when I had the double mastectomy, two years ago. I have since had a hysterectomy when my son was seven months.

I had reconstructive surgery using tissue from my stomach - the hospital and surgeon were great.

Physically you change completely - you're not prepared for how you'll feel afterwards.

Only now is my body getting back, but in the end, I'm here, that's what counts. My hormones haven't been the same but it goes to the side when you think why you've done it.

My sister went through the same thing two years before me. My niece has been diagnosed with the gene, and she's 22-years-old.

Vanessa Leachman, Brighton

Vanessa Leachman Vanessa Leachman

My mum died at 59 after her fourth incidence of breast cancer and one of my sisters, Susan, developed the disease at 45, four years ago.

This led the family down the path of genetic testing and three out of four sisters were all found to have the faulty BRCA2 gene.

Before my sister had cancer, I saw a documentary about having preventative surgery and told my husband there and then that if we found out I had the gene, I would have the surgery.

I was diagnosed with faulty gene in 2010, planned surgery and then it was discovered that I actually had cancer.

I was terrified initially. I hadn't noticed a lump at all. Surgeons did the lymph node biopsy at the same time as my mastectomy and took some lymph nodes out.

I also had my ovaries removed in the same year.

Support from the NHS has been fantastic. I also got support from a website BRCA Umbrella. Our risk of cancer is now down to less than the general population."

Alison Berlie, Milton Keynes

Alison Berlie Alison Berlie

I had breast cancer, which was detected under the screening programme, at the age of 50 .

I had a lumpectomy and chemotherapy at first. I found out two years later, after undergoing treatment for the cancer, that I had BRCA1.

Once you open Pandora's box - when you find out the 70% chance of getting breast cancer again could go down to 3% or 4% - that is the decision maker.

It has been a long road for me but I decided to have a double mastectomy and get on with my life.

I don't regret the decision - I want to be able to say I did everything. I'm not at risk anymore, which is the main thing.

Wendy Helliwell, Edinburgh

Wendy Helliwell Wendy Helliwell

I also lost my mother like Angelina at the age of 56 and also went with the same decision of having the surgery after confirmation I carried the BRCA1 gene.

My mother's dying words were 'make sure you get the blood tests'.

A year-and-a-half ago I had my ovaries removed. It was a positive experience for me - never a difficult decision to make to have the surgery.

I had reconstructive surgery and went up a size, so every cloud has a silver lining! I feel as beautiful and happy as I have ever felt.

It's reassuring to see I'm not alone. My sister has gone through the same - she is due to have massive surgery and is nervous but excited.

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