Burntwood woman’s fundraising drive after discovering she had faulty cancer gene

A Burntwood woman who opted for life-saving surgery after discovering the same faulty cancer gene as Hollywood star Angelina Jolie is embarking on a bid to raise as much cash as possible for charity.

Alice Reeve tested positive for faulty cancer gene BRCA1 after her sister and mother were both diagnosed, meaning she was at high risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer.

Alice Reeve

Alice Reeve

Actress Angelina Jolie also chose to have extensive surgery after discovering she carried the gene variant, while other celebrities including Kelly Osborne have revealed they too have it.

Belfast-born Alice, who was in her early 30s when she had the major surgery, has since raised thousands for research into cancer through sponsored events – including her current bid to “go sober for October”.

Alice, who runs the Francesco Group salon in Lichfield, said: “When my mum and sister became ill, my sisters and I were all tested. I tested positively, which meant I had a much higher chance of developing breast and ovarian cancer.

“My sons were young at the time and I thought I’ve got to do something about this – I can’t just wait for something awful to happen.”

The mum-of-three was tested for BRCA1 after her mum Marie was diagnosed with ovarian cancer – from which she later died. Once of Alice’s eight sisters also contracted breast cancer, though she has since made a full recovery.

Ten years ago Alice underwent a hysterectomy, then six months later had a double mastectomy, followed by reconstructive surgery.

“For me it was an obvious choice as the alternative was to have the threat of cancer hanging over me indefinitely,” she said. “I believe if you can do something about it, do it.

“Life is short and we have to do all we can to make the most of it. Also, I thankfully can’t pass the faulty genes to my sons so it stops with me.”

Alice decided to start fund-raising when she turned 40 and completed three MoonWalk marathons in London – walking, rather than running, the capital’s streets.

“I thought the time was right to do something I wouldn’t normally do,” she said. “The MoonWalks were really hard going as you walk through the night so you’re tired to begin with, though it was good fun.

“I enjoy life and don’t fret about things that don’t really matter. I have a job where I’m surrounded by mirrors but I don’t worry about appearance, putting on a little weight and so on.

“We have customers who have cancer and are undergoing chemotherapy. Some have lost their hair and we work with them to fit a suitable wig. Even though I didn’t get cancer I do all I can to offer them support and encouragement, particularly about concerns they may have about their appearance.”

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Founder of LichfieldLive and editor of the site.