Amanda and Jess on the “best person in the world” — their late mum Yanya Gazzola

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Determined to beat it and see her daughters grow up, Yanya had a mastectomy and started radiation — but the disease quickly returned.

“At 44 she had breast cancer again and she had chemotherapy for that and got through that,” Amanda said.

“Then at 58, two years ago, she was diagnosed with brain tumours.

“It ended up being small cell carcinoma stage four that had spread from her lung to her brain, she was sick for a year and passed away.”

Amanda Pernechele and Jess Smith with mum Yanya Gazzola

Amanda Pernechele and Jess Smith with mum Yanya GazzolaSource:Supplied

At 31, Yanya started a battle with cancer that spanned nearly half her life.

It’s the same age Amanda is now — and two years younger than Jess.

Before she passed, Yanya was tested for the BRCA1 gene — and received a positive result.

A few months ago, Amanda and Jess both found out they had the gene too, which means they have a high risk of developing breast or ovarian cancer.

“There’s over 75 per cent chance of contracting breast cancer at 30 onwards and 45 per cent for ovarian for 40 onwards,” Amanda said.

“The gene counsellor got very emotional telling us the results.”

Amanda Pernechele and Jess Smith’s much-loved mum Yanya Gazzola

Amanda Pernechele and Jess Smith’s much-loved mum Yanya GazzolaSource:Supplied

Moving forward, the sisters will have to have annual, very invasive tests to detect any sign of

cancer — including an internal cervical examination and a breast scan.

They’re sharing their story to encourage other Territorians to be tested.

“There’s no reason to worry about something until you have to worry about it — even if it’s

scary nothing scarier than having cancer,” Amanda said.

Cancer Council NT chief executive Tanya Izod echoed the same call — urging all young

people to be aware of their potential cancer risk and actively engage in cancer screening.

“Research shows that Territory young people have the lowest rate of cancer in the nation —

but teens and young adults in the NT are more likely to die from this disease then those

interstate,” she said.

Ms Izod said from 2010—2014, there were 4843 new cases of cancer were diagnosed in

young Australians, an average of 2—3 every day.

She said while survival rates were increasing, young Australian cancer survivors had an

increased risk of recurrence and lived with long-term side effects from their cancer

treatment.

Cancer Council NT staff help make life easier for Territorians with cancer

Cancer Council NT staff help make life easier for Territorians with cancerSource:News Corp Australia

“In the NT each year, 20 young people will be diagnosed with cancer, 20 young people will

find out their sibling has cancer, and 100 young people will find out their parent has cancer

— 140 new young people are impacted by their own or a family member’s cancer diagnosis

each year,” Ms Izod said.

“Each year Cancer Council NT assists approximately 138 young patients aged 25-50 and our

nursing staff provide over 2000 episodes of care of cancer affected families.”

Ms Izod said young adults should ensure that they have up to date cervical cancer screening,

regular skin checks and health checks.

“Engage in healthy lifestyle choices with exercise, healthy eating, limiting alcohol

consumption, staying smoke free and being SunSmart aware,” she said.

“Much of the work of Cancer Council involves our nurses providing one-on-one support and

assisting in practical matters like — wig and prosthetic — bra fittings, pro bono legal services

and of course our ostomy program providing services to ostomy clients all over the Northern

Territory.”

Amanda and Jess remember their mother fondly.

“She was the most warm welcoming person in the world, she was funny and cheeky,”

Amanda said.

“She just opened her home to everyone.”

Jess said her mum was the “best person in the world”.

“She’d tell you how it is, she was blunt,” Jess laughed.

“But she was just wonderful.

“The three of us were best friends, The Three Musketeers.”

Cancer Council NT staff help make life easier for Territorians with cancer

Cancer Council NT staff help make life easier for Territorians with cancerSource:News Corp Australia

DONATE NOW

Are you looking to make a difference to the lives of Territorians with cancer and their families? It’s

as easy as the click of a button.

Cancer Council NT chief executive Tanya Izod said all donations over $2 were tax deductible and

make a big difference to cancer patients in the Territory.

“The Cancer Council NT is a Northern Territory based not-for-profit organisation and all the funds

raised in the Territory stay in the Territory to assist Territory cancer patients and their families,” she

said.

Ms Izod said 83 per cent of Cancer Council NT’s funding came directly from community events such

as Australia’s Biggest Morning Tea, Daffodil Day and Relay for Life.

A tax receipt will be issued for all donations within seven business days.

For more information, or to donate, visit — nt.cancer.org.au or phone: 8944 1800