Former soap star Terri Dwyer has revealed her fears of dying from the same cancer which killed her mum at just 44.
And Terri, who is about to turn the same age herself, is now contemplating life-changing surgery in a bid to make sure she is around to see her children grow up.
The mum-of-two, who played Ruth Osborne in Hollyoaks for six years, is facing an agonising wait to be tested to find out if she has the same ovarian cancer gene which killed her mum Doreen when Terri was only 22.
“Within the next year, I am going to be 44. That’s the same age my mum was when she died,” Terri told The Sunday People.
“I keep thinking about all the things she missed out on by having her life cut so short and how much I wish she was around to talk to.
“I don’t want my boys to go through the same loss. I want to be there to see them and my grandkids grow up. I’d be having the test for them, not me.
“My kids need their mum.”
TV presenter Terri is fronting an ovarian cancer campaign on the Lorraine show all next week, to highlight awareness of the condition which is the sixth biggest cancer killer in the UK.
And she revealed that, despite being desperate to have the test to find out if she is at high risk of developing the condition her mum had, she has been turned down by the NHS.
“I have already thought about what would happen if the test was positive – if it was I would have a hysterectomy and mastectomy,” she explained.
“Nobody wants to have their womb and boobs removed. It’s horrendous. But my boys never met my parents and I don’t want disappear from their lives.”
Terri went to her GP to ask for the BRCA1 and BRCA2 test – the same genetic tests Hollywood actress Angelina Jolie went through, before deciding to have an elective double mastectomy and then later a hysterectomy.
Patients who test positive for the genetic mutation have a 87 per cent risk of developing breast cancer and a 50 per cent risk of ovarian cancer.
Terri was referred to a genetics clinic, but to her dismay she failed to meet the eligibility criteria to have the test on the NHS.
So now Terri – who is married to TV executive Sean Marley, 47, and mum to sons Caiden, 11, and Kyland, seven – faces having to pay for the tests herself.
She said: “It’s crazy that I didn’t meet the criteria – I don’t know why. My nana died young as well, aged 50, so you’d have thought I’d be at risk – but I wasn’t quite high risk enough.
“The NHS guidelines have to be stringent or everyone would be getting tested. But at the end of the day it boils down to money.”
Terri also lost her father Tony to stomach cancer when he was just 50 years old and has previously had surgery herself to remove life-threatening skin cancer.
And now she is determined to have the genetic tests – and possibly the life-changing mastectomy and hysterectomy surgical procedures – to prolong her life and make sure she is around to watch her sons grow up.
“I don’t dwell on it every day, I try to live more in the moment,” she explained. “And I know how lucky I am to have my amazing children and husband.
“But because of what I’ve had to deal with, I do care about the future.”