How An Awkward Conversation With Your Mum Could Save Your Daughter's Life

25/09/2015 11:21 AM AEST | Updated 15/07/2016 12:51 PM AEST
Eric Van Den Brulle via Getty Images
Mammogram of female breast

Overnight the Kardashian sisters were photographed walking into a clinic to have a BRCA gene test for breast and ovarian cancer. No doubt, as commercial as they are, it may be a sponsored promotion for the Genomics clinic but, you know what, it's a good thing because it has created another platform to discuss something can save a life.

Developments in healthcare are moving forward at a rapid rate -- from treating illness to focusing on prevention. As a result we are learning about how our genetic make-up and environment can affect our overall health, including our risk of getting cancer. There is also more information available for high-risk families to manage and reduce their cancer risk.

Women are at the forefront of driving the dialogue about breast and ovarian cancer and genetics. Unfortunately, in all of these powerful conversations about hereditary health, there is one crucial piece of the puzzle missing -- the men!

The fact is, when it comes to BRCA, you are just as likely to inherit the gene fault from your dad as you are your mum. The breakdown is around 50/50. So then, why are our men-folk being excluded from these life-saving conversations?

This has to stop.

As a mother of two funny, loud and beautiful boys, I want to ensure we are changing the way our family health history is being communicated. We can no longer treat breast and ovarian cancer as secret women's business. Our fathers, husbands and sons need to be included as part of a family conversation.

Unfortunately, culturally we have not created an environment where men feel comfortable talking to their mums, grandmothers and aunts about their breasts and ovaries.

However, men need to have that awkward conversation because those female family members may have valuable information that could save their daughter's life. It's not easy, but we will have your back!

So today, Friday the 25th of September, is Bright Pink Lipstick Day and I am urging all Australian men to speak to their mums and female family members about breast and ovarian health. Because we know that with this information you can actually find out so much more about your own hereditary health (this includes prostate, bowel and other types of cancers and illnesses).

For too long we have left men out of potential life-saving conversations surrounding hereditary breast and ovarian cancer. As a result, we are facing a generation of young women who have been diagnosed with breast and ovarian cancer very young and told about their risk when it is too late.

Women like Bridget Whelan, 41, who has been diagnosed with ovarian cancer for the third time and is currently undertaking treatment. Sadly, Bridget's BRCA gene fault ran on her father's side of the family and she was diagnosed at a time when men didn't talk to their sisters, mothers or daughters about their cancer risks.

So girls, and guys, be sure to pop on your brightest, pinkest lipstick today and make sure to kiss and tell. Let's share the information, which may save a loved one's life.


For more information or to chat with the Pink Hope Genetic Counsellor Visit us at

More On This Topic