Carina puts the threat to her life in the picture
Carina Drake has taken part in in a glamorous photo shoot with a very serious purpose.
All 10 women on the shoot are at a much higher risk of breast and ovarian cancer due to an inherited mutation in either the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene.
All, including Carina, from Badwell Ash, has had breast surgery, either as a life-saving measure to survive breast cancer or to prevent cancer. Some have also had ovaries removed or even full hysterectomies.
The shoot was inspired by The Eve Appeal's #GetLippy campaign which aims to break-down taboos around gynaecological cancer.
It was the idea of Hertfordshire-based makeup-artist Gaby Dagul who witnessed her mum's cancer battle and braved preventative surgery herself.
She secured the help of Steve Hampshire Photography who donated his time as did a 'glam-squad' of local hair and make-up artists and the shoot location at The Village Hotel in Elstree.
Carina saw Gaby's post on Facebook calling for models and decided to join in.
Carina said: "We all braved our scars and stripped off for this shoot in the hope that our journeys would empower and enable more women to have the courage to talk about these cancers and the symptoms that are too often thought of as embarrassing.
"If it can raise awareness in woman to talk about it and get checked out.
"There's a very strong history of breast cancer in our family and my Dad tested positive for BRCA2 when I was a teenager.
"When I was 33 I decided to get tested and was it was confirmed I was positive for the BRCA2 gene. The realisation then kicked in of 'I want to survive and grow old with my husband, Josh'."
On 17 November 2016, aged 35, she went for a breast reduction and preventative double mastectomy and a type of reconstruction which uses the patient's own body fat.
But after the 10-hour operation they found the blood supply to the right side was failing so she went straight back for four-hours more surgery to try to save it. But that failed, so she needed a third operation within hours.
Rebuilding the failed side meant two more operations in 2017, another this March and her seventh one next month.
But she is adamant: "I do not regret my decision one bit – someone has to be the statistic for things not going to plan and I'm happy to take one for the team.
"I am the lucky one – I've not had to go through cancer.
"People often say I'm brave. People who battle with cancer are brave, I'm just practical,
"I was given a choice and I chose life."
Women with a BRCA gene mutation face lifetime risks of up to 90 per cent risk of breast cancer and up to 60 per cent for ovarian cancer.
In comparison, women in the general UK population have about an 11 per cent risk of breast cancer and two per cent risk of ovarian cancer.
In the UK alone about 21,000 women are diagnosed with a gynaecological
cancer each year and 21 women die from them every day.
But the Eve Appeal says 1 in 3 women put their lives at risk by not knowing, or ignoring, the signs of cancer. Visit https://eveappeal.org.uk