TEN brave women who had life-saving breast surgery to reduce their risk of cancer have bared all in a sexy photoshoot.
Gaby Dagul posed alongside her mum Alison and eight friends to mark #GetLippy Day, a campaign launched by The Eve Appeal to raise awareness of gynaecological cancer.
STEVE HAMPSHIRE PHOTOGRAPHY All 10 of then women bravely chose to have preventative double mastectomies
Each of the women carry a mutated BRCA gene – made famous by Angelina Jolie – meaning they are 85 per cent more likely to develop the disease.
Two of the women had already had surgery after being diagnosed with breast cancer and the remaining eight bravely opted for preventative double mastectomies to reduce their risk.
They call themselves the BRCA sisters.
Make-up artist Gaby, 27, from Hendon, North London, says: “I wanted to do something to show that even if you’ve had a mastectomy, you can still be sexy, feminine and beautiful.
Alison Dagul, Amy Kay, Jamie K, Gaby Dagul and Elyse K posed for the #GetLippy photoshoot to raise awareness of women’s cancer
“As soon as I knew I had the gene mutation I made the decision to have the surgery.
“It wasn’t hard for me. I’d seen the effect of cancer and chemotherapy on my mum. I felt lucky that I had the chance to do something about it.”
Gaby had a mastectomy aged 26 after her mum Alison, 56, also from Hendon, was diagnosed with aggressive ovarian and breast cancer in July 2014.
Tests revealed she had a BRCA1 gene mutation, and it had been passed on by Alison’s father, Gerry.
Katie Mumford, Carina Drake, Caroline Presho, Fiona Bayley, Esther Kay also posed for The Eve Appeals #GetLippy campaign
“People don’t realise it can be passed down from the paternal side of the family,” Alison said.
“Who knew a man could pass this terrible gift on to his daughters? They don’t even have any ovaries.
“I had always assumed it came down the mother’s line, and I passed it on to Gaby, which broke my heart.
“I felt proud of her for making the decision to have the surgery.
STEVE HAMPSHIRE PHOTOGRAPHY 26-year-old Gabby, with her mum Alison, wants women to know they can still be sexy after a mastectomy
“When people find out you’ve had a mastectomy they are usually surprised you still look so good. There is a lot of ignorance.
“It’s a life changing surgery with a long and arduous recovery process, but it can save your life. Gaby wanted to show how beautiful we all are.
“Our scars don’t define us. We are all strong powerful women, despite what we have been through.”
Comedian Helen Lederer is also calling for women to check their body and shout out about cancer to break down taboos as part of the #GetLippy campaign.
Caroline’s story: “All I could think was ‘I can’t die of cancer, I have small children’”
STEVE HAMPSHIRE PHOTOGRAPHY Caroline chose to have a mastectomy after finding out she had the gene mutation for the sake of her five children
Caroline Presho, 44, from Hertfordshire, feared she would not live to see her kids grow up after finding out she carried the rogue gene mutation.
She has a strong family history of the disease but chose to have a mastectomy for the sake of her children Jack, 14, Rachael, 13, Toby, 10, and Kitty, five.
“When I found out I had the BRCA gene mutation all I could think was ‘I can’t die of cancer, I have small children’,” she said.
“My only focus was making sure I lived long enough to see them grow up. I decided right away to have the mastectomy.
“The photoshoot was an amazing experience and a great opportunity to raise awareness of gynaelogical cancers.
STEVE HAMPSHIRE PHOTOGRAPHY Caroline, pictured with her five year old daughter Kitty, wanted to make sure she was around to see her children grow up
“It was great to be able to celebrate this with a group of women who all understood what I was going through.
“If you have the gene but you haven’t actually had cancer, you don’t really fit into any category.
“I didn’t like to go to the cancer charities for support, but us ladies are all there for each other.”
Amy’s story: “My sister had already been diagnosed. How long would it be until I had it?”
STEVE HAMPSHIRE PHOTOGRAPHY Amy Kay and Fiona Bayley both had preventative mastectomies to reduce their risk of cancer
Amy Kay, 38, a recruitment manager, from Pinner, Middlesex, and her sister 41-year-old Esther, a charity outreach worker, were both diagnosed as having the faulty BRCA1 gene.
The tested positive after Esther was diagnosed with breast cancer aged 39.
“I felt like a ticking time bomb,” she said.
“My sister had already been diagnosed. How long would it be until I had it?
“It was very tough as my son was only a few months old when I found out I had the gene. I cried every day for two weeks.
“I had always imagined having a second child so I made the decision to go on and complete my family, but when my daughter was just 12 weeks old I had my ovaries removed.
“Two months later, I had the double mastectomy. After it was done I felt like a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders.”
Carina’s story: “Although it’s been a bumpy road, I don’t regret the decision at all.”
STEVE HAMPSHIRE PHOTOGRAPHY Carina Drake knew instantly she would have a preventative mastectomy as soon as she was diagnosed with the gene mutation
Carina Drake, 37, from Bury St Edmunds, in Suffolk, opted or preventative surgery before the gene caused cancer.
“I was tested for the gene because of a strong family history. I was positive for BRCA2,” she said.
“I knew straight away I wanted to have surgery to give me the best chance of survival.
“There were some complications with my surgery. I’ve had seven operations altogether.
“But although it’s been a bumpy road, I don’t regret the decision at all.
“People tell me I’m brave but I’m not brave. The ones going through cancer they are brave.
“I’m one of the lucky ones. I was given a chance to do something about it.”
Katie’s story: “When I was diagnosed with the BRCA mutation I saw it as a blessing.”
STEVE HAMPSHIRE PHOTOGRAPHY 27-year-old Katie Mumford said she feels lucky to have been able to opt for a mastectomy to prevent cancer
Katie Mumford, 30, a marketing manager, from Dedham, Essex, was diagnosed with BRCA2 mutation in 2014.
“I feel lucky. That may not be the normal way to describe a 27-year-old who had to have her breasts removed, but it’s how I feel,” she said.
“When I was diagnosed with the BRCA mutation I saw it as a blessing. It was a warning that has enabled me to save my own life.
“My mother and sister had been diagnosed with breast cancer and seeing them so sick, the decision to have a mastectomy was a no brainer for me.”
Fiona’s story: “I’d go through this ten times over if I could take it away from Ella, but I can’t.”
STEVE HAMPSHIRE PHOTOGRAPHY Fiona Bayley (left), pictured with Amy Kay, was devastated to find out she had also passed the gene onto her daughter
Fiona Bayley, 45, a fragrance manager from Cheslyn Hay, Stafforshire, found out she had the mutated gene in 2014 – and most upsetting for her is that she passed it to her daughter Ella, 20.
“I’d go through this ten times over if I could take it away from Ella, but I can’t,” she said.
“She is only young so she doesn’t have to make a choice just yet, she has time on her side.
“But I hope I have shown her that there is life after a mastectomy.”
Jamie’s story: “We’ve had incredible support along the way from the BRCA sisters.”
Jamie K, 27, an office admin worker from Watford, Hertfordshire, and her twin sister Elyse both had double mastectomies after their mum and grandmother tested positive for the BRCA1 gene mutation.
“We’ve had incredible support along the way from all these ladies, whom we call the BRCA sisters,” Jamie said.
“We’ve shared intimate pictures of our boobs and our scars, they probably see more than we show our own partners.
“They are such a fantastic group of ladies, and we are all proud to have been part of this photoshoot.”
WHAT ARE THE RISKS ASSOCIATED WITH BRCA GENE MUTATIONS
The BRCA1 mutation is the more serious of the two – increasing a woman’s risk of ovarian cancer from two per cent to 40-60 per cent.
While the risk of breast cancer rises from 11 per cent to 60-85 per cent.
Meanwhile the BRCA2 mutation raises a woman’s risk of ovarian cancer to 10-20 per cent, and the risk of breast cancer to 45-60 per cent.
The BRCA mutations can also increase the risk of prostate, pancreatic and breast cancer in men.
Angelina Jolie, whose mum Marcheline Bertrand died from ovarian cancer at the age of 56, underwent a preventative breast removal in 2013 after she tested positive for the gene.
There are around 18,000 preventative mastectomies performed in England each year, according to the NHS.
The procedure is carried out on healthy breast tissue to reduce the risk of cancer developing.
Prophylactic mastectomies can reduce the risk of breast cancer by up to 90 per cent in people at a high risk of developing the condition.
Here in Britain, only one in 400, or one in 800, people carry a BRCA1/2 gene mutation.
But the stats are higher in people with Ashkenazi Jewish, Polish, Pakistani, Dutch, Icelandic, Norwegian and Swedish heritages.
What is #GetLippy all about?
The photos were taken by Steve Hampshire, from Borehamwood, Hertfordshire and hair and make-up was done by the ladies at Betty and Dolly’s hair salon in Hertfordshire.
“I chose Steve because of his gentle and caring way of photographing people,” Gaby added.
“He made us all feel at ease. We had a fantastic hair and make-up team too who made us feel very special and donated their services for free.”
Today is #GetLippy Day and each of the women are supporting The Eve Appeal’s pledge to raise awareness of gynaecological cancer.
STEVE HAMPSHIRE PHOTOGRAPHY Gaby Dagul posed alongside her mum Alison – they both found out they had the BRCA gene mutation after Alison was diagnosed with breast cancer
Worryingly, 58 women are diagnosed with a gynaecological cancer every day in the UK – that’s 21,000 a year.
And around 21 women die every day.
One in three ignore the signs and awareness of women’s cancer is extremely low, according to the charity.
Often the first they hear of womb, ovarian, cervical, vaginal and vulval cancer is when a doctor is telling them they have the disease.
Chief Executive Athena Lamnisos said its vital women feel empowered to speak more openly about their lady bits and their health.
“Awareness of hereditary cancer issues is very low,” she said.