MELANIE McDonell has spent the majority of her adult life living with percentages.
But when those percentages morphed into the words 'Russian Roulette' she took action to bring the odds back her way.
Born with the BRCA gene, Ms McDonnel, has taken control over her family's history with breast and ovarian cancer and its effect on her body by having her ovaries and tubes removed and then later her breasts.
A candidate for the upcoming Orange City Council elections, Ms Donell hopes to use her experiences to raise awareness for breast cancer during October, which is breast awareness month, and also raise funds for her council campaign.
She is hosting a BRCA, Boobs and Bubbly, an on-line chat where she'll give the community a better idea of who she is and what she can bring to the council chamber.
An 'Independent' mum of a six-year-old son, Ms McDonell's grandmother died of ovarian cancer while her mother fought breastcancer at 35 and while the experience was tough, it taught Ms McDonell to stand up for her self.
"We grew up with a constant awareness to be our own advocate. Mum had to push to get a lump tested, she was only 35 but she had to go to several doctors," Ms McDonell, now a nurse, said.
When testing for the BRCA gene became available, Ms McDonell and her sister took the opportunity with specialists having the family DNA of their mum, their aunt and a cousin to draw on.
It turned out Ms McDonell had the gene while her sister did not.
"I was kind of of relieved," she said. "It meant I would have that surveillance testing yearly like mammograms and ultrasounds which is quite a security blanket.
"But every two or three years they would ring me and say they'd found something and it was just this massive rollercoaster ride."
Newly separated but with a child, she decided to have her ovaries and tubes removed when a gynaecologist told her, at 36 years of age, she was playing Russian Roulette.
"I did that first because there's no reliable surveillance testing."
Then three years later, she received another scare when specialists where unsure of a small spot on her breast.
BRCA, Boobs and Bubbly is on this Friday from 7pm. To book, go to /www.eventbrite.com.au and search BRCA, boobs and bubbly.
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