I’m Kristina – a 36 year old woman who has been learning to live a full, fun and meaningful life after a breast cancer diagnosis.
In February 2016, at the age of 31, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. We didn’t have a family history of breast cancer, so naturally, it was quite a shock to me and my family. I was diagnosed with a hormone (oestrogen and progesterone positive) breast cancer called pagets disease of the nipple. I was stage 2, but with an aggressive grade 3 tumour.
Thankfully, I discovered my ‘lump’ whilst blow-drying my hair before work one morning. It was a superficial lump which meant that I could see it – a blessing because I was not the kind of person that did regular self-examinations.
Because of the aggressive nature of my breast cancer, my treatment was quite aggressive – mastectomy (left breast) and axillary clearance, chemotherapy and radiation. I followed up my treatment with some further preventative surgery including a prophylactic mastectomy (right breast) and full lat dorsi reconstruction with implants and finally a full hysterectomy and oophorectomy.
All of the treatment and preventative surgery I have had access to has meant that four years after diagnosis, I get to live my life. I’m still taking an aromatase inhibitor daily and joke that I’m a 65 year old woman walking around in a 36 year olds body, but the truth is I feel very blessed and privileged to have gotten through treatment and come out the other side. My diagnosis completely changed my perspective on life and what was really important to me. I am lighter, happier, more relaxed and genuinely more grateful for life than ever before. I catch myself all the time thinking how fortunate I am to be here, hang out with family and friends, swim in the ocean, think, work, breath and live. Life really is a blessing and a privilege and while I don’t love reflecting on my diagnosis, it is definitely a reminder of those thing!
Cancer taught me that I am braver and more resilient than I had given myself credit for. It also taught me to be thankful for my body – in a weird way I am now more comfortable in my own skin and with my body than ever before!
My advice for anyone starting on their journey is to trust your gut, be your own advocate, put together your own holistic wellness plan that doesn’t just stop at surgeries and medication and know your own body. If something doesn’t feel right, you owe it to yourself to explore that. And finally, don’t forget to laugh and do things that bring you a bit of joy in and amongst it all. Things can get heavy, so don’t forget to seek out the light.
I discovered Pink Hope on Instagram one day – one of the women I had followed had linked a post and I was instantly drawn to the content and positive message shared by Pink Hope. It’s so important for all women to understand their risk, in particular young women. I love that Pink Hope talks about preventative health and provides tools and tips to women to help them take control of and manage their breast and/or ovarian cancer risk.