Wendy Watson has been awarded an MBE in the New Years Honours for her work in founding and running the National Hereditary Breast Cancer Helpline.
Mrs Watson said genetic predisposition to breast cancer was not well known previously.
“My GP had told me there was no such thing as hereditary breast cancer,” she said.
“I discovered nine of my relatives out of ten had it but he said ‘there’s nothing you can do’.
“That’s when I invented the idea of having surgery.”
Mrs Watson, now 57, had a double mastectomy in 1992 and her daughter Becky Measures had the same procedure at the age of just 24.
“I don’t think everybody should do it but people should have all the opportunities to do whatever they feel is right for them,” said Mrs Watson.
She founded the helpline in 1996 with the help of a grant from the Department of Health.
Mrs Watson, from Over Haddon, Bakewell, also sits on the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE).
She lectures in universities, colleges, medical institutes and health authorities across the world about her experiences and the nature of cancer causing genes.