On 30th March 2016, the day after my son was born, I was diagnosed with Stage 3B, Invasive Ductal Carcinoma – more commonly known as Breast Cancer. If there’s one thing that’s going to tangle and twist your life and turn you inside out and upside down, it’s Cancer. I started Chemotherapy before my son was 3 weeks old.
Before long I had lost my hair, and if having a baby doesn’t put a big enough dent in your dignity, active treatment surely will. My body was no longer my own. It was now in the hands of my Oncological team, and the Universe. To win this fight I would have to relinquish all control – of everything in my life – and pray that I ended up in the safe-zone on the other side.
Three months into my fight, my then partner – the father of my children – chose to leave. We had been disintegrating as a couple, but my having Cancer pushed what ever kind of relationship we had to breaking point. My illness drove a wedge so far between us there was no coming back. For the sake of our children and the sake of appearances, we ‘tried to make it work’, but all my focus was going into my two babies, who at just 13 months apart, needed my constant attention. Any energy I had left went into fighting off the side effects of chemo. There was nothing left of me to give.
That October, I had a double mastectomy, followed by 25 rounds of radiation from December to January. Shortly after, I moved out of what had once been our family home, and started a new life as a single Mum. Unfortunately for me my recovery was plagued with setbacks, and I found myself in and out of hospital multiple times. If it hadn’t been for my Mother, my sister and a circle of friends and strangers we nicknamed “#FarrahsArmy”, I don’t know how I would have survived. I’m coming up on two years since my double mastectomy and I’m still having treatment, taking daily medication and managing the side effects. I most likely will for longer still.
Sometimes, when I recount all that has happened and how far I have come from the day I first heard those life-changing words – “You have Breast Cancer” – it feels like an article I read about someone else. How could all that have happened to me? I was too young – only 37. I was a new Mum with an infant daughter and a newborn son – this wasn’t how the story was supposed to go. I was a good person, I was fit and healthy. How could everything I knew about myself be stripped away so suddenly? How could I be taken back to the most raw form imaginable and still see myself as a strong, successful woman? Will I ever be beautiful again? And why do I even equate beauty with hair and breasts and body shape? What message am I sending to my daughter? What message can I send to young women everywhere, like me, about the importance of prioritising your health and checking your boobicles for changes? I’m lucky to be alive. I know this.
And it’s because of research that I am. And that’s why I’m so proud to join the So Brave team as a Model Ambassador for the 2020 Fundraising Calendar. Since my diagnosis, I’ve raised over $4000 for NBCF, Breast Cancer Care WA, Cancer Council and Breast Cancer Network Australia, but I know I can do more. I don’t want to just raise money for this issue, I want to raise awareness of just how impactful breast cancer can be – not only on your body, but on your motherhood, your relationships, your self-worth and belief and your entire life direction. I have vowed to be open and honest in my story so that those unfortunate women who will one day walk a similar path, can have hope for a full recovery and reassurance of the dedicated support of organisations like So Brave to bring about better treatments, better therapies, better methods of early detection and a bigger chance of survival.
There is no shame in battling breast cancer and there should be more acceptance and understanding of the toll it can take on your body. I can’t wait to be part of this calendar for my own sake as much as anyone else’s. I need to be able to look at my body with love and appreciation for what it has endured and what I have achieved, in spite of all the surgeries and setbacks. I look forward to a day I can say that I played a small part in raising the funds and making the changes we need to ensure our daughters and grand-daughters are part of a generation that boasts #zerodeaths by breast cancer. I hope you will support this incredible cause by pre-purchasing the 2020 Calendar (which will feature me!) and ordering the 2019 Calendar which is now available.
PS all donations made through this page are tax-deductible – receipts are emailed to you immediately after your donation – which is gratefully received!!