IT IS a decision that no-one would want to have to consider.
But for nearly a decade, 26-year-old Emily Ranoble has been facing up to the risk of dying an early death from cancer or taking the drastic step of having both breasts surgically removed, after losing all but two women on the maternal side of her family to the illness over two generations.
She has grown up surrounded by breast cancer. Her mother Shelley was first diagnosed when Mrs Ranoble was just seven, before passing away two years later.
Her grandmother fought the condition when she was in her 30s, as did her aunt – the only two women to survive had the double mastectomy surgery to remove both breasts.
Spurred on by her family history, Mrs Ranoble, who lives in Birstall in West Yorkshire and is a home care manager, has decided to take her future into her own hands.
She will undergo the operation and reconstructive surgery at Pinderfields Hospital, in Wakefield, on April 13 – her second wedding anniversary.
“It’s either have a mastectomy or die from cancer,” she said. “It will be quite unpleasant but it’s a minor disruption to my life compared to what developing cancer would be. It’s definitely the lesser of two evils.”
Living with the shadow of the illness looming large, Mrs Ranoble decided to leave any thoughts of assessing her chances of developing cancer until she was 25 given that the common age among her family for diagnosis was 30.
In 2013, as her 25th birthday approached, she finally began to take steps to look at her options.
Around the same time, news broke of Hollywood star Angelina Jolie’s preventative mastectomy after it emerged she had tested positive for the BRCA1 gene mutation, which gave her an 87 per cent chance of developing breast cancer. Ms Jolie, who last week revealed she has had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed for the same preventative reason, inspired a surge in referrals to breast cancer clinics worldwide.
Cambridge-born Mrs Ranoble was also tested for the BRCA mutation, which increases a woman’s susceptibility to breast cancer. She tested negative, although doctors labelled her as high risk. About five per cent of breast cancers are thought to be hereditary.
Becky Ranoble, 29, who is Emily’s wife, said: “It’s great that she [Jolie] is raising awareness, although it’s difficult to relate to someone so high profile.
“There are more and more girls like Emily getting it done that need to talk about it.”
Doctors expect Mrs Ranoble to leave hospital within a week, although her recovery is likely to take around a month.
She said: “Being given my operation date was a bit of a shock, I thought I would get more notice. It’s a really good day for me, it’s got good memories and good things have happened to me on April 13.
“I’m taking it as a positive omen but I’m definitely thinking about it more – now it’s real.”
As part of her journey back to full health, she hopes to take part in a Cancer Research UK Race for Life run in Leeds this summer.