Age of diagnosis: 31
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How old were you when first diagnosed?
31, in March 2019
Tell me where you grew up and what your childhood was like?
I grew up in South-East London with my sister Ele, mum, dad and Tessa the Jack Russell. It was a childhood full of family, friends, delicious food, dogs, donkeys and love! Lots of trips to the countryside and beaches visiting our grandparents. My mum would cycle me to school on the back of her bike, and would wait for me after school with my favorite chocolate bar. My dad was a photographer and he would take me and my sister into Soho with him often. I loved growing up in London. It was a thrilling city to spend my childhood, it was truly wonderful.
Tell me a little bit about your journey. When did you first discover something was amiss? Walk me through how you found out and what was the diagnosis?
I found a lamp on my right breast, but I didn’t really think anything of it because I have had benign cysts in the past, and I was only 31.. I went onto have a mammogram, which looked suspicious, so I had it biopsied and unfortunately it confirmed stage two, invasive ductal carcinoma. Luckily, my lymph nodes were clear and after surgery we saw that the tumor was smaller than originally thought, so my staging went down.
When you were first diagnosed, did your medical team discuss fertility and freezing your eggs? If you froze eggs, can you share a little about the process?
Yes, when I was diagnosed my oncologist told me I would have to go on hormone therapy, and I might need chemo, which might delay or hinder child bearing. So it was suggested I’d go right into freezing my eggs as our first step, which we did. We created 6 embryos, only to have them tested 2 years later, to find out only 1 is viable, was devastating. We were attempting to do surrogacy in 2021, but the universe did not want to send us a surrogate. So we planned to do another egg retrieval early 2022 as my ovarian reserve wasn’t looking great after cancer treatment, so we thought I wouldn’t be able to conceive. I decided to try IUI before doing IVF and on March 1st 2022, we conceived first try. My beautiful, healthy baby boy Rapha was born in November 2022.
What was your first reaction when you were first told you had breast cancer?
How long am I going to live? Why me? What have I done to myself to make this happen to me, while being so young?
Where did you seek support during this time?
My wonderful husband Zac, friends, family and social media.
Did you join a support group or any organizations ? If so, which ones?
My friends, and Instagram was my support group.
Now that you are on the other end, thriving, how are you living your life differently and why?
I really enjoy my lifestyle with my family in Venice. I move my body so much more now, because I can, and thats a gift. But otherwise I am the same, I enjoy all food and drink, in moderation.
Being a fashion editor and going thru various treatments, what did you wear daily to feel your best? Was there any key wardrobe pieces you felt most comfortable in?
Jewelry was a way to embellish and express myself during hard times in treatment. Layering it on would help lift me up when clothes weren’t looking so good, or fitting well.
You openly shared your fight against breast cancer through social media. Why was that important to you?
To gain a community, and help others. I really wanted to have a voice in the quiet, dark days of diagnosis and treatment. I wanted to normalize receiving and sharing a cancer diagnosis, it’s sadly so common but not everyone is comfortable sharing the news.
What is your best advice to another woman who was diagnosed with breast cancer?
Don’t be afraid to reach out to strangers who are going through a diagnosis, or have come out the other side of this. In doing so, you will help them heal too.
What kind of self care do you practice?
Being with my little family, especially at home or on the beach, and taking long hot baths with glass of natural red wine. Saying no when I don’t want to do things.
Is there something that really helped you along this journey, that you can share with other women?
Getting the green light from all my doctors that I can get pregnant safely 3 years after diagnosis. Then actually falling pregnant after having no confidence after the fertility appointments. Being premenopausal when diagnosed was a heavy burden to carry, and it didn’t leave me with clarity for my future desires to have my own family. Falling pregnant was such an unexpected reward after the hardship. I had small belief that it would happen, because my medical team thought it was a slim chance, but I kept on pushing and trying, and my body surprised me. Rapha, he became my expression of hope.
What kind of advice would you give to a young woman today?
You really will get through this. I know it seems bleak, but this chapter will soon be over, and you will be happy again, you will move on, believe me. It took me a couple of years, but once I shifted my mindset in my recovery journey I almost forgot what happened to me.
How are you feeling today?
I am feeling beyond grateful and reflective. I have been thinking recently about celebrating every milestone, and accomplishment, no matter how minor you think they are. How its so important, life is so precious. Today I am celebrating having a supportive, funny husband who brings joy to each day, and a healthy, beautiful baby boy, who has just started giggling. And our gorgeous dog Astro who we love so dearly. Thankful for my boys.