Multi-platinum singer Stan Walker has inherited a rare cancer causing gene that has so far caused the deaths of more than 25 member of his family.
Last September Stan’s mum, April Walker, was diagnosed with lobular breast cancer, which is understood to have been caused by the gene called CHH1.
News of the diagnosis forced Walker to cancel a planned New Zealand tour last November, with the star saying he needed to be with his mother as she went through the illness.
The Sunday Star Times reports Walker’s mother chose to forgo breast removal surgery but had the 2.5 centimetre mass removed. She also decided against chemotherapy and radiation treatment, instead choosing natural treatment alternatives.
In her interview with the Sunday Star Times, Walker said she pushed for her eldest sons to get tested for the rare cancer-causing gene, given the family’s history.
“I got my three eldest boys, Mike, Russ and Stan, to get tested and Stan was the only one to have the gene,” she said.
Walker said she was in her 20s when she found out she had the gene.
“It’s not that I didn’t care. I just didn’t really think it would happen to me that I would get cancer.”
The CDH1 gene which runs through the family claimed the life of Walker’s father, Rangi, as well as 25 other members of the wider family, over a 30 year period.
Researchers from the University of Otago first identified the gene in 1997 through trial group testing, which Walker’s father and cousins were part of.
Figures show 70 per cent of those carrying the CDH1 gene are will develop stomach cancer by their 40s. Women have an additional 35 – 40 per cent chance of developing lobular breast cancer.
This story first appeared on Women's Weekly.
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