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Talya Stone: BRCA1 warrior

Talya Stone: BRCA1 warrior

Talya is a 41-year-old Londoner, mother of one, dog mama of another, living in London with partner Wilson. She's a media entrepreneur who founded the leading parenting online magazine Motherhood: The Real Deal and then 40 Now What. She's a fun loving character with a love and lust for life, laughter, travel and speaking the truth.

Talya mustard jumpsuit

Talya is styling the Casual mustard jumpsuit

You define yourself as a BRCA1 warrior. Could you tell us a bit about your journey and what has led you to take on this role?
When you are told you have the BRCA(1) mutation you have a chance to fall apart at the seams, or do battle. I very much was in the second camp right from the minute I found out the I had this gene mutation which puts me at a high lifetime risk of both breast and ovarian cancer. I don't always feel strong, but I have no choice but to saddle up and do battle with this.
How has finding out you have the BRCA1 gene mutation affected your life?
There are many days when I don't think about it, but if there is one big change for me it's having my mortality shoved in front of me. This has made me live life to the fullest - I have been on a mission to do as much, see as much, love as much and experience as much as possible, because you just don't know what is around the corner and I can no longer take anything for granted as much. There are other days when I feel crippled with health anxiety and life is not so great. I have some major life events and operations that I will have to deal with in the very near future, and knowing this has made it even more important that I soak up all the good stuff that life has to offer.
What would you say to someone that’s thinking about getting tested for BRCA1?
I think first know why you're doing it, and what you might do if you find out you have the gene mutation. The latter is very important and not something I thought about before I got tested. I just did it because I thought it was the right thing to do and I essentially had little choice as my father had the gene mutation and to not get tested - especially as a mother - felt to me personally like it would be irresponsible. I know not everyone agrees with this.

Knowledge IS power but it is also frightening too. If you have a family history of breast or ovarian cancer I think it is better to know if this is something that will affect you too, even though the truth can feel very scary. But if it can help your chances of side stepping cancer or improve your survival rate then that can only be a good thing in the grand scheme of things. 

Talya is styling the Casual mustard jumpsuit

You recently made the really hard decision of getting your ovaries and breasts removed. What advice would you give to other women facing this decision?
Firstly I would say that arriving at this decision takes time and is REALLY hard. There is a lot of mulling, and fact finding. This is not something that happens overnight. I had to sit with this for a long time and constantly flip flopped. I bargained with myself and compared and researched and in the end I realised that at this current juncture for me there is really no alternative. Hopefully medicine will change enough that in 5 years + this will not be a decision others have to make.

I would just try and get as much support as you can, and talk about it as much as you can - with friends, with your partner, with family members, with medical practitioners, with others who have been there and done that.

Try and buddy up with a mentor who can give you the strength to show you that this can be done (I used social media to find one!), and everything will be ok. When you talk about it and get it out in the open things feel so much better. I am under the Cancer Genetics Team at the Royal Marsden and they are always there whenever I need them, and I also get counselling support when I need it from Maggie's.

This is a huge thing to take on and process so looking after your mental health, self care and self love is key. I am lucky that I did a bunch of therapy during lockdown which meant that I was already mentally quite resilient and would urge others to do the same to deal with any emotional baggage you may already have from your past.
Why do you think talking about this is important and what do you hope your voice brings to others?
As with everything - the minute you talk about it, hear others talking about it, and find others going through the same thing it is much less scary.

I love the posts that appear on my Instagram from the BRCA community because it helps me know I am not alone and that I can do this. Talking about it is a way of fighting our fears through a kind of exposure therapy, but also of raising awareness.

Up until now, most people only know about the BRCA1 gene mutation because of Angelina Jolie, but it is important for people to know that this is something real that is happening to real every day women out there, not just a famous celebrity - otherwise known as the Angelina Jolie effect, which I feel diminishes things for the BRCA1 community.
Talya is styling the Casual mustard jumpsuit
What role does fashion play in your personal and professional life?
HUGE! I am a big lover of fashion. I love the way that wearing different clothes and outfits can make you feel, the different personalities they let you be, and the lift they give you.

For me, fashion is my playground but I have become a lot more conscious of the need for us all to support ethical and sustainable fashion whether that is wearing ethically produced garments or buying preloved items to support the circular fashion economy.

How do you ensure you look after yourself properly? What do you do for self-care?
I am a massive advocate of self care. Things I do on a daily basis which are a non negotiable are:
 
- Exercise
- Get enough sleep
- Eat healthily
- Do yoga
- Meditate
- Get into nature
- Take my supplements
- Practice gratitude
 
If any of the above are missing from my routine, I start feeling a bit unhinged! Proof that self care is not selfish but imperative!
Is there anything else you would like to add?
Please share this interview to help to raise awareness of BRCA. 
BRCA mutations are linked to an increased risk of cancer and knowing about a BRCA mutation can inform you of your cancer risk and influence treatment options. It's better to know than to be in the dark. 
How can people connect with you?
Instagram: @motherhoodrealdeal @40nowwhatmag
Facebook: @motherhoodtherealdeal @40nowwhatmag
Twitter: @motherhoodreal @40nowhatmag

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Talya is styling the Casual mustard jumpsuit:

 

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