'I feel lucky I was born with cancer in my DNA. Crazy as it sounds, I consider myself lucky that, when I was just twenty-two years old, I discovered I had a ninety per cent chance of developing breast cancer: the same, insidious disease that had attacked my Mum, and my Nan before her and my Great-Grandma before her.'
Krystal Barter is an extraordinary young woman: a fighter, a survivor, a wife, a mother and a crusader. She was born with the breast cancer gene, a hereditary curse that has run through generation after generation in her family, claiming at least twenty of her close relatives. But unlike them, Krystal was able to take the BRCA1 gene test, and found out the devastating news that she too was carrying the rogue gene. She had the courage to face her greatest fear, knowing that she could control and change her destiny - and even more courageously, she did.
At the age of 25, with her husband and two children beside her, she decided to have a double mastectomy - on national television, no less, so she could inspire others in similar circumstances to do the same. Realising there was nowhere she could find support, Krystal started a unique charity and fund-raising platform called Pink Hope from her hospital bed. Pink Hope is a safe haven and resource for families facing hereditary breast and ovarian cancer. Krystal is dedicated to helping women be informed and supported so they will feel less alone at a crucial time of their lives.
From a troubled - and troublesome! - teenager struggling to come to terms with her mother's illness and the family curse, to a young wife and mother faced with a terrible choice, to a never-say-die woman who has inspired tens of thousands of others, The Lucky One is a story of love, courage and transformation that will move all who read it. You will never forget Krystal Barter and the legacy she is building for her family and the world.
In 2009 while recovering from her double mastectomy, Krystal Barter founded the charity, Pink Hope, a community dedicated to inspiring, supporting and informing women at high risk of breast and ovarian cancer. An experienced and passionate speaker, Krystal has featured on 60 Minutes, Today Show, Madison, In Style, Harpers Bazaar, A Current Affair, The Morning Show, Sun Herald, Cleo, Cosmo and SBS Insight, to name a few! In 2012 she was a finalist for the Young Australian of the Year and NSW Woman of the Year, 2012 Finalist for In-style Audi Women of Style Awards, 2012 Madison Inspirational Woman, 2011 Harpers Bazaar Woman of Influence and 2010 Warringah Young Citizen of the Year. The Lucky One is Krystal's first book.
The Lucky One
Allen and Unwin
Author: Krystal Barter
Question: Why did you choose to have your double mastectomy on national television?
Krystal Barter: I was 25 years old and making a decision that would impact my life forever. I found that there was not one person I could connect with outside of my family, I felt incredibly alone and isolated.
Sharing my story with 60 Minutes was a positive opportunity to ensure another young woman didn't feel like I did – we were one of the first people to document and share their surgery on national TV… people were not talking about it and certainly not sharing their whole process.
So many women and families connected with me through the story and finally it felt like my journey meant something.
Question: Are those reasons similar to why it was important for you to write The Lucky One?
Krystal Barter: Absolutely! When you are interviewed on TV for 5 minutes you often don't get to tell your whole story, the complexities you have faced along the way and how this has shaped me.
So this book is my whole story – its real and it's raw. I was not a well behaved teenager; I struggled with depression and substance abuse. However the readers come with me on my journey of transformation. Readers are there when my mum is diagnosed and how my life has been shadowed by hereditary cancer.
I know this book will help so many families.
Question: Was it difficult to relive certain aspects of the journey when writing The Lucky One?
Krystal Barter: I have read the book so many times and I still laugh, cry and it takes me right back.
The Lucky One has been so therapeutic for my family; it has given us another reason to feel grateful and lucky. My mum actually didn't know what I went through as a teenager so she found it all very confronting.
She is very proud of how I have turned my life around… I think that's as much my story as is my BRCA gene.
Question: What do you hope readers take from The Lucky One?
Krystal Barter: I hope that the readers are inspired to investigate their family health history. If one family member starts the discussion and starts the process than I am happy.
I also hope that people realise that who they were yesterday, doesn't mean they have to be that person all the time. That you can change, you can grow and you can find out who you want to be.
I could have stayed on the path of self-destruction but I wouldn't be here to tell my story today.
Question: Can you tell us about Pink Hope?
Krystal Barter: I created Pink Hope from my hospital bed when I was recovering from a preventative double mastectomy as a platform for education, prevention and support for families facing hereditary breast and ovarian cancer.
It has gone from being a small idea to a national movement. We support and connect thousands of high risk women around the country but also provide tangible resources and support to help families navigate their family health history, genetic testing and options available.
Pink Hope has become so much more than me and my story, we represent and speak for over 240,000 men and women who potentially carry a gene fault or are at risk of breast, ovarian and prostate cancer. Those women and those families are what make me rise and shine every day.
Question: What's next for you?
Krystal Barter: We are making plans for #brightpinklipstickday campaign for 2014, we are launching a very exciting collaboration with an iconic Aussie brand… but for me! I am just going to wake up every day with the same passion that got me here. I am going to try and be the best mum and wife I can be. Because at the end of the day my children and my charity is my legacy…. I know one day when my time comes I will look at my life and know I have made a difference.
Interview by Brooke Hunter