Mother-of-three, 27, who ‘knew cancer was coming’ after testing positive for a faulty gene has a full hysterectomy and both breasts removed
A mother-of-three has had her breasts and womb removed at 27 after being diagnosed with a gene mutation that put her in high risk of developing cancer.
Haley Kelly, 27, from Fernandina Beach, Florida, lost her grandmother to ovarian cancer and great-grandmother to breast cancer.
When she was nine-years-old her mother was diagnosed with stage four ovarian cancer, and tests revealed she had the BRCA1 mutation, meaning Haley had a 50 per cent chance of inheriting it.
Aged 20, Haley discovered she too had the gene, and after reuniting with her high school sweetheart, they decided to start and complete their family as soon as possible so that she could have surgery to remove her womb.
After having her three children, Haley underwent surgery aged 27 to remove her breast tissue, ovaries, fallopian tubes, cervix, and uterus, when her youngest was three-months-old.
Haley Kelly, 27, had her breasts and womb removed after finding out she had the BRCA mutation, which meant she had a high risk of developing cancer. Pictured two days post op
Haley with her husband, Ty, and three children, Kannon, left, Kash, middle, and Kolbie, right
Recalling her mother’s diagnosis with cancer, Haley said: ‘She was tested for the BRCA mutation given our family’s extensive history.
‘That’s when she found out we had a BRCA 1 mutation in our family, and that meant that I had a 50% chance of inheriting it.
‘I felt really scared at first, but it didn’t truly hit home until I tested positive myself.
‘I was scared of what that would mean for me in terms of having children, finding a husband, and navigating risk-reducing surgeries or surveillance.’
At 20 years old, Haley, who is a registered nurse, decided to get tested for the gene mutation, which can increase the risk of developing breast cancer by up to 80% and ovarian cancer by approximately 50%.
Sadly, they discovered she had the gene mutation too.
The first person she reached out to was her high school sweetheart, Ty, as although they had broken up over two years earlier, he was a huge support.
Pictured prior to her huge operation, where she had both breasts and her womb removed, after finding out she had the gene mutation
Haley said: ‘I felt very nervous, my biggest fear obviously was that they were going to go in there to remove everything and find cancer already beginning to grow’
She said: ‘We met when I was only 16 and actually went to my junior prom together.
‘We hadn’t talked for about a year at the time of my diagnosis.
‘We rekindled our relationship shortly after me finding out, and the rest was history!’
The pair married in July 2016 and decided to start trying for children right away.
Haley said: ‘We knew if we wanted children, especially multiple children, we needed to have them while I was young.
‘We had Kash when I was 23, Kannon when I was 25, and Kolbie when I was 26.
Haley was told that the ‘rule of thumb’ was to have surgery 10 years before the youngest diagnosis in her family, which was her mum at 34. Pictured nine days post op
Haley said she knew if they wanted children, especially multiple children, they needed to have them while she was young because of the diagnosis
‘I had my double mastectomy and hysterectomy on schedule when Kolbie was only three-months-old.
‘We felt a peace about her being our last biological child.
‘Our little family felt complete with her in it, so we went ahead and booked the surgeries.’
Haley was told that the ‘rule of thumb’ was to have surgery 10 years before the youngest diagnosis in her family, which was her mother at 34.
She said: ‘That would put me only at 24.
I knew this wasn’t possible because I knew I wanted children and a family of my own, so I monitored very closely and had my three babies as close together as possible after getting married.
‘Knowing it was coming is what scared me, so I decided to take action against my mutation before cancer took action on me.’
The first person Haley reached out to when she found out the bad news was her high school sweetheart, Ty, as although they had broken up over two years earlier
She said they met when they were only 16 and went to junior prom together, and hadn’t talked for about a year at the time of the diagnosis
Haley had Kash, left, when she was 23, Kannon when she was 25, and Kolbie when she was 26
The mother-of-three had the double mastectomy and hysterectomy on schedule when Kolbie was only three months old
What is the BRCA gene and how does it affect people’s risk of cancer?
Having a mutated BRCA gene – as famously carried by Angelina Jolie – dramatically increases the chance a woman will develop breast cancer in her lifetime, from 12 per cent to 90 per cent.
Between one in 800 and one in 1,000 women carry a BRCA gene mutation, which increases the chances of breast and ovarian cancer.
Both BRCA1 and BRCA2 are genes that produce proteins to suppress tumours. When these are mutated, DNA damage can be caused and cells are more likely to become cancerous.
The mutations are usually inherited and increase the risk of ovarian cancer and breast cancer significantly.
When a child has a parent who carries a mutation in one of these genes they have a 50 percent chance of inheriting the mutations.
About 1.3 per cent of women in the general population will develop ovarian cancer, this increase to 44 percent of women who inherit a harmful BRCA1 mutation.
On 9 September 2021, Haley had a prophylactic double mastectomy with tissue expander placement and a total robotic-assisted hysterectomy, bilateral salpingectomy, bilateral oophorectomy, removing her breast tissue, ovaries, fallopian tubes, cervix, and uterus.
Haley said: ‘I felt very nervous, my biggest fear obviously was that they were going to go in there to remove everything and find cancer already beginning to grow.
‘I’m also a nurse In the operating room, so there was a part of me that was fearful of surgery itself since I’ve seen “the good the bad and the ugly” of surgery from my nursing perspective.’
She was in the hospital for two nights while the hospital sent all of her removed tissues off to pathology to be tested for any cancerous or precancerous cells.
Thankfully, the tests all came back as benign.
Since both her ovaries were removed, she is now on full hormone replacement therapy to prevent surgical menopause.
She said: ‘I was only 27-years-old, I made the choice to go onto hormone replacement therapy.
‘It was either that or be in full-blown surgical menopause at 27, which has its own sets of risk factors in addition to the menopause symptoms like hot flashes, heart disease, osteoporosis, etc.
In a clip posted on TikTok, her husband Ty, 29, shared a video of Hayley to share how proud he was of her for remaining so ‘brave’ and ‘selfless’ throughout
Hayley on the beach with her drains coming out of her chest, saying she gets embarrassed about them and scars
Ty shared the adorable and heartwarming clip to his TikTok following, in hospital to have tissue expanders removed as a follow-up surgery
‘I think this was the right decision for me and I plan to remain on HRT until I am menopause age (around 50).’
Now four months on, she has been recovering and healing in preparation for more surgery to replace her tissue expanders with breast implants to hopefully complete her breast reconstruction.
Haley said: ‘I was very nervous about this whole process, but I’ve been amazed at my body and how it’s healed.
‘I spent the first six weeks under strict orders not to lift anything over five pounds, and that was the hardest thing about it all since I had three children under four running around.
Haley had a prophylactic double mastectomy with tissue expander placement and a total robotic-assisted hysterectomy, bilateral salpingectomy, bilateral oophorectomy, removing her breast tissue, ovaries, fallopian tubes, cervix, and uterus
Pictured 24 hours post op, Haley says she made it through the recovery with the help and support of friends and family
‘But with the help and support of family and friends I have made I through it and am so happy to be back carrying my children around and running on my treadmill.’
After sharing her story online, she has been overwhelmed with support.
She said: ‘I also was so blessed to be able to connect with so many women online who are facing similar situations and choices I was and am facing.
‘If sharing my story helps one woman have the confidence to take control of her health then this was all worth it to me.’
In a clip posted on TikTok, her husband Ty, 29, shared a video of Hayley on the beach with her drains coming out of her chest, saying she gets embarrassed about them and scars.
Haley said: ‘If sharing my story helps one woman have the confidence to take control of her health then this was all worth it to me’
Ty captioned the post: ‘I’m so incredibly honoured to call this beautiful soul my bride!’
The clip went viral on TikTok, where it racked up more than two million views and was liked 145,000 times.
One person commented: ‘Previvor here too… what a positive light she is, scars will heal and drains will go away… you’re stronger than cancer!’
‘She’s stunning, and a strong woman. Hope she’s recovering well,’ another user said.
Someone else added: ‘So beautiful, BUT THEN SHE SMILED AT YOU.’
‘We are warriors!! Diagnosed at 33 w BRCA2, mastectomy and total hysterectomy soon after. 35 now and living life everyday,’ another person commented.
Another user said: ‘God bless your beautiful wife. She has been through a lot at her age. I know she has good & bad days, but she is handling this with such grace!’
‘Brave and beautiful. My wife had the same thing a few years ago. She is my hero,’ added someone else.