CHANGEMAKERS SERIES | KRYSTAL BARTER

The spirit of our NEW DAWN Collection embodies change, evolution + collaboration. These fine qualities are the very essence of the women we have featured in our series of inspiring Changemakers. 

Creating exacting change in many areas, from the environment to art, health and nutrition, these women bring our collection alive with their passion, power  + persuasion.

Krystal Barter shares her inspiring story of how she defied a family cancer curse to save herself and offer the gift of hope to thousands of other women. We chat to Krystal about how she founded Pink Hope, a preventative health hub that allows every individual the necessary tools to assess, manage and reduce their risk of breast and ovarian cancer…

Talk us through your incredible journey which led to the creation of Pink Hope…

Pink Hope was born out of my own health struggles and feelings of isolation. I wanted a place where I could find women just like myself and share the lifesaving knowledge that I had come to learn.

I had watched every single woman in my family be diagnosed with breast and/or ovarian cancer. Mum at just 36, Nan at 44, and my great grandma at 68. I was desperate to end the generations of suffering that plagued my family. I did not want to be the next victim of this hereditary curse. So, at age 22, after many years of uncertainty, I finally mustered up the courage to under-go genetic testing. I could no longer hide from what I instinctively knew was facing me. 

Testing for BRCA gene mutations had only recently become available and well-known after Angelina Jolie shared her own story. Of course, when I underwent testing, my fears were confirmed. I had the BRCA1 mutation. Although scared, I also became empowered by the choices that I now had – to choose my own future, a new story for my family, which now included my 3 children. 

I underwent a double mastectomy and reconstruction on national television (60 Minutes). I felt so privileged to have the opportunity to share this with the world, because I knew that it had the potential to save lives.

From my hospital bed, while I was recovering, I launched Pink Hope. There was no unique organisation focused on families facing an increased risk of cancer – so I created my own. I didn’t want this story to end with me. 

It took off and has now been thriving for over a decade. I’m proud of everything that I achieved at Pink Hope and have now stepped back from my role as CEO, handing it over to an incredible woman who has been actively involved in the organisation since the beginning. 

I haven’t stopped my advocacy work though! I am continuing my health advocacy and entrepreneurship through my new company, Humanise Health.

Was there a pivotal moment which led you to make the decision to have genetic testing and your subsequent preventative surgery? 

The moment I heard about genetic testing for the BRCA gene mutation, I wanted to personally be tested and take action. I have never looked back.

I feel incredibly lucky to have been able to know my risk, previous women in my family never had that opportunity. For all the complications, surgeries and challenges – I feel I am in a position where I feel liberated and content in my life. Whatever will be will be and that’s a beautiful place to live.   

I would urge any woman with a similar family history to mine, to seek out genetic testing. It’s the most empowering thing you can personally do for your health. 

Why did you choose to have your double mastectomy on national television?

To raise awareness for others like myself. It’s so important to put a face to a condition, disease or illness. Being featured on 60 Minutes meant the message was able to reach into people’s communities and homes across Australia, in ways that I could not have done alone. 

Can you tell us about your advocacy today?

Today, I am the Founder and CEO of Humanise Health. This patient-led, patient driven business is an extension of my experience and passion to revolutionise the healthcare landscape globally. 

We are a global patient engagement and digital agency, and we work alongside businesses in the health, technology, medicine, social enterprise and non-for-profit sectors to truly put patients at the centre of healthcare. 

My vision is to make health accessible, patient-centric and personal – so we’ve stepped into the forefront of the space, and we’re making sure that everyone we work with knows that patients are truly the experts. So collaboration with real people and making sure they are part of the decision-making process when it comes to their health, is a non-negotiable. 

I launched this during the pandemic, which is funny – as I founded Pink Hope during the global financial crisis! What I’ve realised is, that if you’re led by purpose and you know that what you’re creating is needed, then there is never a bad time to start.

Tell us about the major wins that you have achieved through Pink Hope for the women in Australia…

Pink Hope has completely changed the preventative health landscape in Australia. It has brought the BRCA mutation, along with others, to the forefront of people’s minds. It has connected a community to take action and truly become empowered when it comes to their own health.

I was on a call with a large organisation a little while back and she introduced me saying, “This is Krystal, she changed the face of the BRCA gene mutation in Australia.” It’s not every day I feel proud of what I have done, but its moments like that, that I sit back and smile. Knowing that everything my family went through has become a legacy. 

What is your wish for change in the future?

My wish for the future is that everyone has accessible and equitable health care. That no matter where you come from, your background, genetics or health issues, you will be given the best treatment, pathway and support available. I believe this is a fundamental human right that needs to be fought for and protected.