Northern Beaches Woman Hailed as Australia’s Angelina Jolie
This is the story of Krystal Barter who was just 25 when she had both breasts removed to escape her “family’s cancer curse”.
Now the 30-year-old northern beaches mother of three is being called Australia’s Angelina Jolie for her decision to have her fallopian tubes and one of her ovaries removed in order to reduce her chance of getting ovarian cancer.
The Prime Minister’s wife, Margie Abbott launched Mrs Barter’s memoir, The Lucky One, in a rare public appearance.
“For Krystal, knowing that living with a potential death sentence gave her two choices: either to be a bystander and see how the cards fell or … to take control,” said Mrs Abbott.
Mrs Barter has no symptoms of the ovarian cancer, which killed some 903 Australians in 2011. Though Mrs Barter had no symptom of ovarian cancer, her decision to have preventive surgery was influenced by new Canadian research that found removal of both ovaries by the age of 35 reduced the risk of death by 77 per cent for women who carry the BRCA gene mutation.
However, Cancer Council Australia CEO Ian Olver warned that surgery is a “radical step” that should only be taken if recommended by a range of physicians, and after genetic counselling.
“While the removal of an organ or other body part does almost entirely eliminate the risk of cancer developing at that site, there is always the chance that some tissue could be left behind,” said Professor Olver.
Mrs Barter’s mother and grandmother have also had breast cancer. She had founded “Pink Hope” so that women and men with hereditary breast and ovarian cancer like her would have better information.
“I was alone and isolated, there was nobody my age who making the choices,” she said.
“There was nobody I could talk to who had this gene, and there was nobody who could guide me.”