Brave Jamie is poster girl for breast cancer charity campaign
A business consultant, who took the brave step of having a double mastectomy, has become a "poster girl" for a campaign to raise awareness of hereditary breast cancer.
Jamie Walker took the momentous decision to have both her breasts removed and resconstructed because of the severe risk she had of developing hereditary breast cancer.
And Jamie is one of 12 women chosen for a photoshoot for a charity journal to help make people aware of hereditary breast cancer which could be responsible for up to 10 % of breast cancers.
The 37-year-old, who lives in Earby, said the decision to have the surgery, that became high profile after Hollywood superstar Angelina Jolie had it, was an easy one to make after her mum, Allison Wardell was diagnosed with breast cancer twice in 10 years.
Jamie said: "My mum was diagnosed 10 years apart but both times they were primary cancers and she was first diagnosed before the age of 40 - all of which are rare singularly.
"Combined they hinted at more than 'bad luck'.
"Thankfully she is still alive and well and we recently had a huge party to celebrate her turning 60, but seeing the pain and stress she went through and then having another scare four years ago has been agony, especially waiting for the results to come back.
"I was determined to find out if we, as a family, did indeed have an inherited increased risk, and if we did, to have my breasts removed and hopefully prevent me having to go through the same."
The devastating loss of her dad, Peter, who died suddenly in 1999 just after Allison's treatment, also made Jamie think about how precious life is and made her even more determined to help shape her own destiny.
A former pupil of Earby Primary and Colne's Park High schools, Jamie said there was "never a doubt in my mind" that she was doing the right thing in having the operation after several consultations with the genetic teams at St Marys Hospital in Manchester, confirmed the increased risk.
Jamie underwent a double mastectomy with immediate reconstruction at the Wythenshawe Hospital in Manchester in September last year..
A prolific fundraiser for the National Hereditary Breast Cancer Helpline, including taking part in the Burnley 5K five years ago with her mum, who was undergoing radiotherapy at the time, Jamie has also taken part in a skydive.
But Jamie admits the latest challenge has been the hardest one of all for her after she was banned from facebook for posting a post op picture, even though it was in a closed and private mastectomy support group.
Jamie said: "I just wanted to show other women who may be considering this op, or have no choice in the matter, that we can still be beautiful and feminine and strong after a mastectomy.
"I may not be back to my pre-op shape and size right now, but in many ways I feel stronger than I did before."
But the photoshoot inspired feisty Jamie to set up a website dedicated to educating, informing and showcasing men and women about the mastectomy types, techniques and procedures used and to give them a place to share their scars without being made to feel anything other than proud and beautiful.
Sponsored by Anita Care, designers of post surgical lingerie and swimwear, the journal is for women undertaking preventative breast surgery and will be used by the NHBCH as a tool for newly diagnosed women to record their own journeys as they make decisions about how to proceed with the news that they are carrying one of the faulty genes.
With the aim to #makeonepersonaware about the risks and statistics around hereditary breast cancer, the shoot took place at the Anita head offices in Germany and Austria in July and was released on October 1st to coincide with Breast Cancer Awareness month.
The campaign also aims to raise recognition of the BRCA gene and other genes that cause breast cancer since so much of this tragic disease could be stopped by preventative surgery.