Negative result and a positive step

By Lachlan Durling

CATHY Hall considers herself lucky in the genetic lottery.

It’s safe to say her family has bore the full brunt of cancer as her great-grandmother, grandmother and great aunt died of ovarian cancer.

And in the ’90s, her mother, aunt and cousin were all diagnosed with breast cancer.

In 2014, when Cathy’s mother was again diagnosed with cancer — this time ovarian — she was contacted by the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre.

Cathy said the centre advised her mother to be tested for the BRCA gene mutation.

It was a simple test that would confirm what the family had already feared.

When her results returned positive, the seven children were then advised to have the same genetic test.

“So far, six of us have been tested and I’m the only one to get a negative result,” Cathy said.

“My brother was diagnosed with prostate cancer before the genetic testing was done.

“Since the test was done, all of my sisters have taken drastic steps to reduce their risks of getting these cancers.”

Because of this, Cathy decided to support the Australian Cancer Research Foundation by shaving her head.

“People with the BRCA 2 gene are five times more likely to be diagnosed,” she said.

“When I was the only one to return a negative result, I decided to do something to help.”

Cathy didn’t want to set a fundraising goal, but was coerced into a reasonable target of $750.

She’s well past that now with only seven donors at the time of writing, and is quietly hoping to raise $1000.

“It’s been really well supported. People say it must be scary losing your hair, but I think it’s worth it,” Cathy said.

“I’ve had long hair for 40 years and so it will be interesting.”

Working at Echuca College, Cathy announced her plan to the assembly on Monday, with the help of ACRF’s Victoria Bonsey.

The ACRF is a non-government organisation that funds equipment for cancer research in Australia.

“Every little bit helps, no amount of kindness is too small,” Victoria said.

“Research has been very important, and with cutting edge technology we’re able to get more accurate results, find better treatments and have personalised treatment plans.

“It’s an exciting time for cancer research — we’re outsmarting cancer in leaps and bounds, from a world perspective and in Australia we have some great programs.”

Cathy will shave her head at school on Tuesday, November 13. To donate to Cathy’s fundraising, visit