A MUM who had a double mastectomy two years ago has welcomed the publiciity surrounding Angelina Jolie's decision to so the same.

Claire Whittaker, 39, who lives in Bagnor, decided to get herself tested for the defective gene BRCA2 shortly after losing her father, Kerry Keysell, to pancreatic and prostate cancer at the same time as several female relatives died from breast cancer.

When she found out she carried the gene in 2010, Claire made the brave decision to have both breasts removed, reducing her chance of getting breast cancer from 85% to just 2%.

Claire, who works as a speech therapist at Mary Hare School for the Deaf at Snelsmore Common, said: "It sounds odd but when I heard I had the defective gene I didn't give it a second thought, I had to have the operation.

"The first part is to have your ovaries out, which reduces your chance of getting cancer by 50%. Some women find that harder than having your breasts removed but I am very lucky in that, like Angelina, I had already had children.

"The only thing I think I didn't expect was the shock of going into early menopause. My family were very supportive but going into the recovery process with that was difficult."

Her decision was supported by husband Dickon and their children Jemma, six and Ben, four, and she had the procedure in May 2011.

Claire added: "My first reaction when I heard about Angelina was just complete joy, it's brilliant what she's done. I wouldn't wish this on anyone but for it to be such a feminine, sexy and giving person is fantastic, and she has spread the word faster than I could have dreamed possible.

"No-one even realised that Angelina had had this done, she doesn't look different and neither did I. I was very lucky the surgeons could take excess tissue from my stomach to fill in my breasts so there was no need to have implants. It meant I could have the whole thing done in one operation, which lasted 13 hours."

She added: "I would urge anyone over 30 to get tested, including my own children when they get to that age. Now I can say to my little girl, you don't need to be scared, just have an operation like mummy did and you are free."