It's not the first time we've chatted to Mia, she was in fact the first #Beyondniner that we featured on the journal. We invited the lovely Mia back to share her breast cancer journey. It's an emotional read yet her courage, determination and hope is truly inspiring. Knowing that her Beyond Nine collection has been a comfort during this difficult time means the world. Make sure to check out some of her tips on how to check your breasts each month towards the end of her piece. Over to Mia...
Right guys..... this is a long one, if you finish it I applaud you, if you get bored, before you leave, please please please just scroll to the end to read about how to check your breasts..... okay, here we go....
Last year I received the news that no one ever wants to hear - I had breast cancer at just 31 years old. As the consultant was telling me 'I'm so sorry that we told you we thought it was nothing to worry about, what we found we are pretty sure is cancer,' my mind went blank and I pushed my chair to the back of the room. I felt as though I was in a tunnel and everyone voices were so far away, it was strange. My thoughts then instantly raced to my two young children, Violet then aged 5 and Albert then aged 3, and how this news would affect them.
Mia wears the Lilac Sahara
When I went back in for my biopsy results, my surgeon (the loveliest lady) explained that I would need to undergo chemotherapy and a mastectomy in order to treat the cancer. The idea of losing my breast was overwhelming, the thought of losing my hair was overwhelming and the thought of going through chemotherapy while trying to be a mother to two young children seemed impossible.
As I left the hospital, my head was spinning with a million thoughts and emotions. Fear, sadness, and anxiety were all overwhelming me at once. How would I manage to juggle chemotherapy, all the million appointments that cancer brings, surgery all whilst caring for my children? Who would help me with the day-to-day tasks that were now becoming increasingly difficult?
Mia wears Cece
I tried to stay strong for my family, but the reality of what lay ahead hit me hard over the days following my news. I couldn't stop the tears from flowing as I thought about how much I wanted to be there for my children as they grew up. How would they cope with me being sick and not able to do everything I used to do for them?
I knew that I had to be strong for my children, Chris and for myself. I made a promise to myself that I would do everything in my power to fight this cancer and be there for my family, to watch our children grow old. I would be open and honest with my little ones, I'd try and explain to them what was happening in a way that they could understand. Something switched in my mind, I just wanted to get started quicker so it ended quicker.
The months ahead were filled with appointments, chemotherapy sessions, and the overwhelming feeling of exhaustion that came with it all. I hand on my heart, attended every appointment and my first chemo session in my lilac Jenny and Hugh which even my oncologist commented on, saying 'I was dopamine dressing' which I was, wearing that colour made me happy.
Mia wears the Iris Hugh
I often found myself struggling to keep up with the demands of motherhood, but I knew that I had to keep going. In swoops my wonderful partner, he took control of everything, the kids, the house, finances etc etc. It sounds cheesy but he was a real life knight in shining armour. My love for him grew ten fold and I didn't even know that was possible. We wanted to show our beautiful babies that even in the face of adversity, we can still find strength and hope. During the midst of the struggles of chemo I received so many cards with words of encouragement, they really helped me keep going. I also received the mother of all gifts, a Beyond Nine Cece dress, I wore this dress to take the first ever photos of myself after I lost my hair 💓
Mia wears Cece
The day of my mastectomy I didn't find too hard, (I went for a walk prior to having to be at the hospital in my one of favourite Beyond Nine jumpsuits, the green Joni. A final farewell to my my two breasts in the jumpsuit haha) for me this was easier than the months prior navigating chemotherapy. As I looked at my body in the mirror one last time (in the toilets of the theatre ward 😂), I felt a sense of loss but also a sense of strength. In that moment, I reminded myself of why I was doing this - for my children, for my family, and for myself. Even the thought of my future grandchildren passed through my mind. For me, losing my breast has never been an issue for me, I chose not to have reconstruction and I'm proud of my flat side. All my Beyond Nine items still look great so that means it's all good with me!
Mia wears Joni
Shortly after this I was told that the beautiful lilac and green dress I'd been eyeing up from seeing it on the Beyond Nine stories at a shoot was in fact called the 'Mia' Dress, named after yours truly - its safe to say that was enough to bring tears to my eyes. It's so extremely heartwarming to be so valued as a customer with a brand that has your whole heart.
Through everything cancer brought to my door, my children were my source of strength. Their smiles, their laughter, and their unwavering love for me kept me going when times were tough. Even though they were young, they understood that I was sick and that mummy spent a lot of time in bed.
Now, as I reflect on the past 14 months, I realise how much I have learnt. My biggest lesson I have learnt is that we are capable of so much more than we ever think is possible, I really mean this from the depths of my being, we as humans are incredible. I have learnt that even in the darkest moments, there is always hope. And most importantly, I have learned that the love of family and friends can carry us through even the toughest of times. Being a photographer I have shared my cancer story using images and that is also something that really helped me.
My cancer malarkey is not over just yet (I'm not sure once you become a cancer patient that it's ever fully 'over'), I'm due to start a new treatment for a year in the next month. I have another surgery coming up soon to remove my ovaries and I am also on hormone tablets for 10 years. Menopause at 31 is all fun and games. I'd need to write a whole other piece on that so I'll save that for another day. If anyone ever has any questions about it please reach out for a chat. I do feel like I am through the worst of it though and I am extremely grateful for the lessons I have learned along the way. I am grateful for my bloody amazing friends and family, who have shown me what it truly means to be strong. Most of all, I am grateful for the chance to keep fighting, for the chance to keep living, and for the chance to be there for the people in my life for many years to come, just as they have been there for me.
Mia wears Cece
Writing this and reflecting back on my personal experience with breast cancer, I am reminded of the importance of early detection. It is crucial that both women and men regularly check their breasts for lumps or changes, and seek medical attention if they notice anything out of the ordinary.
Breast cancer can affect anyone, regardless of age, gender, or family history. It is important to understand your own risk factors and take proactive steps to protect your health. This includes regular breast self-exams, mammograms, and other screening tests as recommended by your doctor.
Early detection is key when it comes to breast cancer, as it greatly increases the chances of successful treatment and survival. If caught early, the cancer is more likely to be contained within the breast and not spread to other parts of the body. This is why it is so important to be vigilant about checking for lumps and changes in the breast tissue. Sometimes you have to advocate for yourself along the way, not always, but sometimes. For example my doctor when I first went to get the lump checked told me 'it's nothing to worry about, come back in a months time if it's still there.' So I left but after speaking to my mum who told me to push for a referral, I did and it goes without saying how glad I am I did. This is why I believe it's important to check on the same day of the month, every month so that you are aware of your own breasts. You will then know if there is change from your normal and you can tell the doctor exactly that. Not saying I think you shouldn't get a new lump checked if it's in-between that month of course.
Mia wears the Moss Green Coverall
It can be easy to put off breast exams or screenings, especially when we are busy with work, family, and other responsibilities. But the truth is that our health should always be a top priority. By taking the time to check our breasts and seek medical attention, we will notice anything unusual. We are taking an important step towards protecting ourselves from breast cancer.
Please remember it's not just lumps, there is more to look out for than just that. I will note below what you need to look out for and a step by step on checking your breasts. You can also find so much incredibly useful information on the Coppafeel website (they also provide free monthly text reminders, if you do anything today, sign up to that PLEASE). There is also so much help on the Breast Cancer Now website.
Mia wears the Gingham Savannah
1. Start by looking at your breasts in the mirror with your arms at your sides. Look for any changes in size or shape, dimpling, redness, or puckering of the skin.
2. Raise your arms and check again for any changes in your breasts' appearance.
3. Look for any discharge from the nipples, such as blood or a clear fluid.
4. Place your hands on your hips and press down firmly to flex your chest muscles. Check again for any changes in size, shape, or texture of your breasts.
5. Lie down and place a pillow under your right shoulder, then use your left hand to feel your right breast in small, circular motions. Be sure to cover the entire breast, from the collarbone to the bra line and from the armpit to the breastbone.
6. Use different levels of pressure, starting with light pressure and gradually increasing to medium and firm pressure.
7. Repeat the process on your left breast, using your right hand.
In addition to performing breast self-exams, as I said above, there are other signs and symptoms to look out for that may indicate breast cancer:
1. A lump or thickening in the breast or underarm area
2. Swelling, warmth, redness or darkening of the breast.
3. Change in the size or shape of the breast.
4. Dimpling or puckering of the skin on the breast.
5. Itchy, scaly sore or rash on the nipple.
6. Nipple discharge that starts suddenly.
7. New pain in one spot that doesn't go away.
Mia wears the Gingham Savannah
It is important to note that these symptoms can also be caused by other conditions besides breast cancer, but it is always best to speak with your doctor if you notice any of these changes.
So, let my experience and many other peoples serve as a reminder to all women and men out there to take care of YOU and to be proactive about your health. By staying aware of our bodies and taking action when necessary, we can give ourselves the best chance of a healthy, fulfilling life.
Cancer is s**t but I will say I have grown so much as a person. I actually feel as though it has brought out my true identity. I'm unapologetically myself. I have also made a very strong group of friends, the cancer community in one full of so much love and understanding. This weekend just gone I actually attended an event called 'Cancer in Common' (you can find them on instagram @cancerincommon) which was full of wonderful and inspiring humans who are all riding the cancer storm, I would recommend it to any cancer patient as it filled my cup right up. I wore my Beyond Nine Lola jumpsuit (I'm not lying when I say it's rare to see me in anything other than Beyond Nine) and I had so many compliments.
Mia wears the Ultimate PJ Bottoms
I spent my darkest days in bed or in hospital wearing my Gingham Ultimate Pyjama Bottoms. The days I could get out of bed, I'd be around the house in one of my many Hugh and Jenny tracksuits (yes, I don't think I resisted any colours) or Coveralls. When it got a bit warmer, I spent my days in my linen pieces, especially my Saharas and wonderful Winnie dresses. Beyond Nine clothes provided my comfort throughout, the comfy, lightweight, colourful hug around my body at all times. They always makes me feel comfortable with my mastectomy and lymph node removal. The poppas on my linen jumpsuits made it so easy for me after surgery as I couldn't lift my arms up for 6 weeks. I also feel like it doesn't stand out that I only have one breast when I'm wearing Beyond Nine.
Mia wears the Tomato and Lilac Savannah
Thank you to all of the wonderful Beyond Nine family ♥️
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