Worthing woman with ‘mutant’ cancer gene hula-hoops 5k to raise charity funds
Cancer has cast a dark shadow over Christen Williams’ family.
Several of them carry a faulty BRCA gene, which means they have a higher risk of developing cancer.
This discovery led to Christen – at 30 – making the difficult decision to have a double mastectomy.
But she said she learned so much during that experience that she is now on a mission to help make that decision easier for other people.
Christen, 32, from Worthing, said: “I lost my mum, Pauline, to ovarian cancer in 2015 and discovered she carried the BRCA2 gene mutation.
“Having the test to see if I carried the gene mutation didn’t seem like a huge deal. I assumed I had it and if I didn’t, that would be a huge bonus.
“Once I knew I had it, I found it empowering because it meant I could keep myself alive for longer. However, it became a much bigger deal to think about having a double mastectomy!
“That was a very, very difficult decision to make – I loved my boobs! But in the end, I loved my life more.”
Christen was desperate for clear information and to talk to other people who had been in her situation but could not find either.
“I couldn’t find accessible information or anyone else like me. So, I decided to do something about it,” she said.
Christen did her research and founded an Instagram account @brcachatter and a YouTube channel, vlogging about her experience from pre-op to recovery and beyond.
Along with fellow BRCA ‘mutant’ Lisa Bancroft, Christen is in the process of setting up a charity to support those navigating BRCA.
“These days I love being a ‘mutant’ and chatting about boobies and ovaries!” she said. “If I can use this experience to help others, it’s all worth it in my eyes.”
As well as vlogging and making people aware of the need for further research, Christen has taken on a challenge on behalf of Cancer Research UK.
She did the Race for Life at Home to help the charity carry on the fight against the disease until the nation is out of lockdown. She has already blown her target and raised nearly £700.
Christen, who manages a team of advocates for young people, joined thousands of people across the UK who are taking on the challenge alone or in small, socially distanced groups this April to raise money for life-saving research.
Some people will walk or jog 5k, while others put their own spin on Race for Life. Christen, a keen hula hooper, is literally going to spin her way to some funds!
“I’m not a runner so my plan was to walk, skip and dance the 5k with the hoops spinning round different parts of my body,” she said.
“My Mum would be totally thrilled – and laughing her head off – at the thought of me hooping 5k.”
Cancer Research UK is predicting a £300 million drop in income caused by Covid-19 over the next three years which could put future medical breakthroughs at risk.
Some Autumn dates for Race for Life have now been confirmed. They include Worthing 3k and 5k events on September 26. To sign up, visit raceforlife.org or call 0300 123 0770.