"I'm not at the age where I want to lose my womanhood"
A TOOWOOMBA woman is facing the terrifying prospect of getting a mastectomy.
Although only 25, Ashleigh Knox is from a family that carries a mutated BRCA 2 gene which is famously linked to movie star Angelina Jolie.
The first the family knew of any problems was when a close relative contracted cancer at 33 about 30 years ago.
In 2003 Ms Knox's aunt Trisha was also stricken with the disease and died in 2008.
Her mother was then diagnosed with cancer after finding a lump in her left breast and she had a full mastectomy.
The most recent case was when her aunt Lizzy also contracted the deadly disease.
A likely carrier of the gene, Ms Knox now faces a difficult decision; if she doesn't get a mastectomy she might not live to see her two children grow up.
The BRCA gene prevents cancer and carriers of a mutated gene have an extremely high risk of getting the disease.
Ashleigh said she wanted to raise awareness that families like her were in the community.
"I buried my head in the sand for 12 years about it, I didn't want to know about it, didn't want to be tested.
"I felt like families like ours were shunned - there was no support and if you got the cancer then we ran with it."
Ashleigh recently found out about cancer support organisation Pink Hope.
"There is massive support through them and I really want bring them to Toowoomba. I want them in regional Queensland."
Ashleigh spoke bravely about her personal struggle about considering removing her breasts.
"It scares me, but it's certainly that's not off the table if there is support out there for me.
"Considering I'm at such high risk it has crossed my mind.
"Being 25 and even considering have a mastectomy done; it's a big thing to go through.
"I have two daughters of my own and I want to live to see them married."
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Ashleigh said most women her age were starting businesses and finding their place in life.
"I'm certainly not at the age where I want to lose my womanhood.
"It's a part of your life where image to a woman is everything and to know I could possibly lose that is hard, it really hits home."