29 Sep Jo Menken and BRCA2 Gene testing | Breast Wishes Journey
Meet Jo! Previvor and all round superstar raising awareness for BRCA2 gene testing. I had the opportunity to meet with Jo and chat about her journey and what else she has planned.
Jo, can you tell us a little about yourself?
I’m a fly by the seat of my pants kinda girl, I need new and exciting things in my life and I never stop dreaming. I’ve been told a few times that I live in a fantasy land, I like it there, it’s where the magic happens! I work at Health Place in James St as a bit of an all-rounder (marketing, admin, events and partnerships) and I’m extremely lucky that my boss allows me the capacity for my ideas to come to fruition.
Some of my ideas work and some don’t, but he believes in me enough to let me do my thing. For fun I like to socialise when I can (very limited with an 8yo daughter), Saturday morning breakfast dates with my daughter, and I love to get out and enjoy the sunshine as much as possible, whether it be New Farm Park, a run or the beach.
When did you decide you wanted to get tested for BRCA2?
When my Mum tested positive.
How did knowing you had the BRCA2 gene affect you?
Having the BRCA2 gene means that by the age of 40, it’s recommended I have a hysterectomy. I was in a semi-permanent relationship at the time I found out. That played on my mind and put pressure on that relationship. I wanted the person I was with to consider their needs, knowing my situation. It also made me want to take control of my health and do something about it. The creation of the ball and the funds raised for that will go towards research for breast and ovarian cancer. I have 6 years to do what I can so that I don’t have to have a hysterectomy. There’s already tests for a more successful screening tool for ovarian cancer!
Why did you start Breast Wishes Journey (BWJ)?
I started the Facebook page to document my journey from the very beginning. I wanted to show through my experiences what to expect if anyone else found themselves in a similar situation, raise awareness and educate. By becoming familiar with the unfamiliar it takes away some of the fear. I also found that for women in my age bracket there was little support for preventative health options. I wanted to show that you can take control of your health; and the steps to do so if you know your family history.
Many people still don’t talk about BRCA2 and breast cancer screening/testing – why do you think that is?
I think it’s because it brings back memories and triggers emotions from what they have been through, so discussing it for some people doesn’t help. People aren’t as familiar with BRCA so I guess it’s not a common subject of discussion. I have only discovered one other female with BRCA in my age bracket in Brisbane thus far.
You filmed a ‘Touch Yourself’ video to raise awareness. How did this come about and what was peoples reaction to the video?
I took the idea from another video I saw which used an overweight man and his man boobs. I wanted to appeal to a younger audience and hopefully prompt them to check themselves. It was widely received with over 22k views on FB.
What are your goals for BWJ?
To form a support group where women can attend to either take their minds off what they are going through or discuss it with likeminded others. To continue to raise as much as I can for research so that future generations can lead a breast and ovarian free life. Also to create a grant scheme where women with a family history of breast and ovarian cancer, who aren’t covered under the medicare system can apply and receive the funding for the BRCA blood test.
PLUG: When is the BWJ Gala Ball and why should people attend?
The Breast Wishes Ball is OCTOBER 8 at the Alice Room in Cloudland. People should only attend if they want to contribute towards the creation of a breast and ovarian cancer-free life for future generations, and can handle a night filled with entertainment, laughter, dancing and GOOD TIMES!
Once the Ball is a success, what is next for you?
Whatever the universe has planned!
ABOUT BREAT WISHES BALL
Our aim is to create a future generation of women who are empowered to live a life free of Breast and Ovarian Cancer. As well as raising funds and awareness for Breast and Ovarian Cancer, Breast Wishes Ball will be a celebration of life; an evening where we’ll reflect on great health and show gratitude for each and every day. As we celebrate the end of my journey, I promise the most incredible evening of laughter, entertainment, and dancing (all whilst contributing towards a cure for future generations). Who knew a Cancer Prevention attempt could be so much fun!
All funds raised at The Breast Wishes Ball, will be donated to Pink Hope. http://pinkhope.org.au/about-pink-hope/ Pink Hope is a preventative health organization working to ensure every individual can assess, manage and reduce their risk of Breast and Ovarian Cancer, whilst providing personalized support for at-risk women. The mission and values of Pink Hope so closely align with my own, and all donations will be tax deductible (another reason I’ve chosen to sit beneath the Pink Hope umbrella).