Meet Jo Menken. An inspiring woman on a mission to create a future generation of women who are empowered to live a life free of Breast and Ovarian Cancer. After making one of her most challenging life decisions, Jo now devotes her life to raising awareness and funds for Breast and Ovarian Cancer. And I want to help her spread the word…
I think she is amazing!
Leigh: Tell us why you are so passionate about Breast Cancer Awareness..
Jo Menken: In 2009, my mother was diagnosed with Breast Cancer, and my aunty with Ovarian Cancer, in 2014. They both tested positive for a faulty BRCA gene, which allowed me, and my siblings to be tested for the gene. In 2014, I was tested. I found out that I was BRCA2 positive. This fact placed me in the high risk category of being diagnosed with Breast Cancer or Ovarian cancer at some stage throughout my life. I have four sisters, and a brother. Three out of six of my mother’s children are at a significantly higher risk of Breast and Ovarian Cancer than the general population. To add to the story, I have an eight year old daughter who now has a 50% chance of carrying the same gene and developing Breast or Ovarian Cancer. Personally, this is the most harrowing fact of them all.
LV: You recently faced one of your toughest decisions in life, in the most inspiring fashion. Tell us more about that…
JM: After many appointments with specialists, and mulling over the decision for many months, I engaged in preventative surgery. Prophylactic Bilateral Mastectomy; one of the hardest decisions of my life! My breasts were one of my most-loved features. My mind raced… How could I have them removed at only 34 years of age? What if my body wasn’t able to handle the surgery and I ended up disfigured? What were my chances of breastfeeding post-surgery? Could anybody else love a disfigured body? Perhaps lifelong biannual screenings and hoping for the best would be the easiest option. So many internal questions, and each time, my answers varied. It wasn’t until I visited my Plastic Surgeon, Dr Matthew Peters, that I found clarity in my decision to go ahead with preventative surgery. So, to make light of a not so nice situation, I decided to do something about it.
I thought if I can make a purpose for sacrificing my perfectly fine breasts then I will and I will help and educate whomever I can along the way and hope that my 8 year old daughter will not have to go through any of this. So this was my idea; Raise awareness and funds by creating a Charity Auction Ball. I had a high definition cast made of my torso before the operation. This will have a Brisbane artist work on it and be donated to the auction. I am also approaching businesses for donations to auction on the night. I have a few other surprises for the night that I will announce closer to the date of the event, being October 8th 2016. I believe to beat cancer and find the cure we all need to be in this together, and I would really appreciate your support… Even sharing this story, re-posting on Instagram or Facebook, anything and everything helps.
If you or any organisations you know would be interested in learning more about how you can help support Jo on her crusade to raise funds and awareness for Breast and Ovarian cancer, please email Jo Menken at email@example.com for further information. Follow Jo on Instagram and Facebook.