Page 3 Profile: Amanda Stewart, Catherine Keeney, Yvonne McKenna, Suzanne McCormack and Laura McGuinness, cousins and mastectomy patients


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This looks like a family affair. What’s going on?

Five women in the same family have all decided to undergo double mastectomies. Cousins Amanda Stewart, 32, Catherine Keeney, 28, Yvonne McKenna, 38, Laura McGuinness, 42, and Suzanne McCormack, 39, will all have their breasts removed in a bid to avoid developing breast cancer like their mothers did.

Are they at risk too?

None of the women possess the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene which causes the cancer, but surgeons have offered them the operations to remove their breast tissue due to their family’s history of the disease.

And has cancer claimed  many members of their family?

Sisters Yvonne and Laura lost their mother Catherine to cancer, and Josephine Murray, an aunt to all five cousins, also died from the disease. Amanda and Catherine’s mother Angela, and Suzanne’s mother Sadie have also suffered from it.

No wonder they are fearful for themselves…

“Cancer has always been there, hanging over us like a dark cloud,” Amanda, of Carluke, South Lanarkshire, told the Daily Record newspaper. “Hearing my mum utter the words, ‘Your aunt has cancer’ time and time again was bad enough… When she told me she also had it, my world collapsed.” Amanda said. “I don’t want to have to tell my son Callan or daughter Erryn the same news.”

What do her cousins have to say?

Catherine, of Newarthill, is due to have the mastectomy and reconstructive surgery next month. “We are very lucky to have been given the chance,” she said. “My mum and aunts would have jumped at it.”

Are they confident it’s the right thing to do?

Catherine admitted that she was nervous but said that if she didn’t have the operation she would constantly worry about being the next woman in her family to have her world “turned upside down” by cancer. Suzanne added that she was having the mastectomy for the sake of her children: “I don’t want to be frightened anymore,” she said.