Tanya Saad faced a life-changing situation in 2008 when she discovered she carried the BRCA 1 gene fault and a family history of early onset breast and ovarian cancer. Her memoir, From the Feet Up, chronicles her journey, her close relationship with her sisters, and sees her explore her heritage, sexual orientation and faulty genetics. These events culminate in Tanya undertaking preventative surgery including a double mastectomy and gaining a better understanding of just who she is as a woman.
From the Feet Up is a story of courage and determination. Tanya was bullied as a child in the NSW country town of Taree because of her Lebanese heritage. This bullying would see her forge an unbreakable bond with her beloved grandma with whom she shared her love of sport and romance. She later helped nurse her grandmother through her last six months of life before her grandma finally succumbed to cancer.
Tanya's path was not an easy one. She would come out as gay and cope with the reactions of family and friends in a conservative environment and a training accident would shatter her dream of making the Australian Water Polo team for the Sydney Olympics. Then she was diagnosed as a carrier of the hereditary breast and ovarian cancer gene fault, BRCA 1: the same fault that saw Angelina Jolie undertake a preventative double mastectomy and reconstructive surgery.
Making Tanya's journey even more challenging was the fact that one of her two sisters was also diagnosed with the gene. From the Feet Up also explores Tanya's decisions and coping mechanisms while addressing the effects on the entire family and community affected by this challenging and heartbreaking situation. From the Feet Up is about finding your feet when you are a fish out of water and making sure the life-changing decisions you make are ones you can live with.
Tanya Saad's life wasn't perfect but it wasn't far off. Happily occupied with a demanding job, the competitive cycling she loved and the support of her irrepressible family, she wasn't given to introspection. Then the thunderbolt hit. At the age of 30, Tanya discovered she had tested positive for the BRCA1 gene fault, which meant her chances of developing breast and ovarian cancer young just increased exponentially. Worse was to come when one of her beloved younger sisters tested positive, too.
A resilient personality, Tanya was used to meeting challenges. Growing up as part of a Lebanese family in a small NSW country town before coming out as a gay woman in a conservative environment meant she was used to conflict. But there were tough decisions ahead " should she have her breasts and ovaries removed before the disease took hold? Still a young woman, yet to find a partner, would she have time to have children?
From the Feet Up
Author: Tanya Saad