Aspiring nurse Avril Jenkinson, 23, was born with an extremely rare gene which greatly increase her chances of developing certain cancers
A young woman who had a hysterectomy after being diagnosed with womb cancer is now preparing to have a double mastectomy.
Aspiring nurse Avril Jenkinson, 23, was born with an extremely rare gene which greatly increase her chances of developing certain cancers, including breast cancer.
She was diagnosed with Cowden’s Syndrome – which affects just 60 people in the north west – in February.
The diagnosis came after she had underwent a hysterectomy to remove her womb, ovaries and cervix after developing womb cancer aged just 20.
The admin assistant, who is also studying part-time, says she will also have both her breasts removed ‘as soon as possible’ to remove the strong risk of breast cancer.
She said: “I want to get on with my life. I don’t want to wait and be told again that I have cancer – I can’t do that again.
“It’s like a ticking timebomb and it’s always in the back of your mind. You’re thinking ‘if this is going to happen, when will it happen?’.”
Avril was diagnosed with womb cancer after suffering a ‘significant haemorrhage’ just after her 20th birthday in April 2013.
She had a total hysterotomy a month later, followed by a total thyroid removal.
But doctors did not realise Avril carried the PTEN gene and was only diagnosed when she saw a geneticist last December.
Though she took steps to preserve her ovaries before surgery, there is a chance her children could inherit the condition.
She said “I’ve got 11 eggs saved. It upsets me that if I have my own children there’s a 50/50 chance they could inherit the gene.”
Avril, who must also take hormone replacements for the rest of her life, said: “It is strange – I’ve got grey hairs now.
“My bones are worse than they’ve ever been and I suffer from bad headaches.
“But I’m stronger and happier now than I’ve ever been.
“I’m still here. And I’m not ashamed of this – it can happen to anyone.
“I have the best mum and dad and a great sister and friends. If I didn’t have them I couldn’t be this chirpy. I really love them.”
Avril is currently studying for a health and social care qualification through the Open University and hopes to start a nursing degree next year.