I am delighted to share this interview with the incredible Krystal Barter. While you may not know her name, you will certainly know her organisation Pink Hope. As a woman, daughter, sister, wife and hopefully one day mum, I have a history of cancer in my family. My Great Aunt a medical savant, well ahead of her time decided to have both of her breasts removed in the 1950’s when she declared to her family, ‘These things are not going to kill me!’
Thanks to Pink Hope and their work increasing the awareness and preventative action women can take towards breast and ovarian cancer, we are moving closer a time when the next generation may never have to face the fear, uncertainty, and choices past generations like my Great Aunt had to make. Unlike my Aunt I can be tested before I need to have my breasts removed, but that’s not enough. Thousands of women embark upon the journey of Breast Cancer treatment every day and we need people like Krystal and the work of Pink Hope to keep moving forward. To keep pursuing and funding the research into providing a non-surgical option to prevent breast cancer in women with an elevated genetic risk.
What inspired you to create Pink Hope?
I carry the BRCA1 gene fault. Sadly, more than twenty women in my family have been diagnosed with breast and ovarian cancer including my Mum. My mum was diagnosed with breast cancer at only 36 years old.
At the age of 22, I decided to undergo genetic testing to see if I carried the same insidious gene that had plagued my family for generations. The test returned positive.
The next few years were filled with terrible anxiety. I researched and explored the internet endlessly only to find there was very little on hereditary breast and ovarian cancer. I also noticed there was no unique charity focussed on the needs of families facing hereditary cancer.
At 25, I decided to have a preventative double mastectomy. A few years later I continued with my BRCA journey and had my fallopian tubes and one ovary removed to further reduce my risk cancer. As a mum with a young family and a beautiful husband, my priority was to do whatever I could to ensure I was able to be here for family.
Having experienced the isolation and lack of information for high risk women like me, I decided to be proactive about helping others which lead to me creating Pink Hope. I have made it my personal mission to provide information, resources and support for the high risk community.
Within a short period of time Pink Hope has grown to become a charity and community that provides support and inspiration to thousands of families around the country.
In the year before making your career change, how would you describe your mental, emotional and spiritual state to a close and trusted friend? Was there an event/events which served as catalysts for the work you now do?
Starting Pink Hope was never seen as a ‘career move’. Rather, the purpose behind starting Pink Hope was to ensure families at risk of breast and ovarian cancer had an organisation to turn to. I wanted to be able to help provide families with potentially lifesaving tools and resources. No one should ever have to face the BRCA journey alone. In the lead up to my preventative surgeries I was terribly nervous. However, I have an incredible Mum, a supportive Dad, a helpful brother, a wonderful husband and loving children … they kept me going and helped inspire me to create Pink Hope.
How does Pink Hope bring your unique talents to life? In what way does it give your personal fulfillment or a sense of purpose?
I truly love what I do. The people I meet, the team I work with …. Every day at Pink Hope HQ is unique and beyond rewarding. Every time someone uses our ‘Know your Risk Tool’, or someone from the high risk community joins our online support groups. Every time someone accesses our tools and resources we know that are doing our part to better educate, inform and support someone in need.
What drives you to do the work that you do and keep going?
I have to say my children are a big factor behind my work and Pink Hope. Unfortunately, my children are potentially the next generation of Australians who carry the BRCA gene mutation.
What has been a highlight of the organisation so far?
I (along with a Pink Hope colleague) was invited to the premiere of ‘Unbroken’ where we got to meet the incredible Angelina Jolie herself! Angelina and her preventive health journey has inspired many individuals around the world to investigate their family health history …. and in turn …. take control of their health.
How does your work serve a higher purpose on planet earth? And how does that make you feel?
Working in an organisation like Pink Hope, there is no doubt we have our fair share of horribly sad days. We are no strangers to loss and the devastating effects cancer can have on families (not only physically but mentally, spiritually and financially). However, knowing what we are doing may result in a future free from hereditary cancer for so many Australians. That is what keeps us going. Since March 2016, over 10,000 Australians have used our ‘Know your Risk Tool’. This tool is designed to help individuals better understand their breast and ovarian cancer risk based on their family health history. If we can help families understand their risk we can potentially help them to change their future.If we can help families understand their risk we can potentially help them to change their future.Click To Tweet
What great lesson or lessons have you learnt so far in life?
Prevention, prevention, prevention! We need to do what we can (like eat better, exercise more, drink more water, stress less) to ensure we further reduce our risk of disease (not just cancer … all diseases).
How would you like to be remembered?
I would like to be remembered as a good mum, a devoted wife and a loving daughter. It would be an added bonus to be remembered as someone who helped encourage Australian families to take charge of their health.
If you could give one piece of advice what would it be and why?
Speak to your family about your family health history. Knowing this personal history is key in assessing your own health, and take the necessary steps to take to ensure you remain as healthy as possible. This year Pink Hope’s Bright Pink Lipstick Day campaign is aimed at driving the importance of knowing your family health history.
A few of my favourite bonus questions with Krystal…
- Musician? Ohh that’s a tough one. Foo Fighters, Nirvana, Chris Cornell, Jeff Buckley and Beyonce
- Author or Book? I love biographies but the Twilight saga does it for me (teenager trapped in a 30+ body)
- Movie? I love old movies and musicals I used to watch them with my nan: Meet Me In St Louis, The Dolly Sisters, Calamity Jane, Oklahoma, Show Boat, Gone With The Wind.
- Breakfast? Ohhhh poached eggs, bacon, mushrooms, wilted spinach and a green smoothie
- Mantra or quote? Courage doesn’t always roar, sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says, I will try again tomorrow.
Find out more about Krystal and Pink Hope:
So tell me do you know your risk? I urge you to use the ‘Know your Risk Tool’ and take the time to increase your awareness around the prevention of breast and ovarian cancer, and ladies, please share this post with your friends, sisters, mothers and daughters.
I was inspired to create this website to share the incredible stories of people doing amazing things on the planet through their Legacy Project. So what will your Legacy Project be? I’d love to know?
Thank you for visiting Your Legacy Project and for consciously choosing to live life on your own terms and create a life that leaves a legacy. Everything we do here at YLP is designed to serve you. If you have any comments, thoughts or ideas we’d LOVE to hear them please share them by typing in the comments below.
Live with purpose!