Chanette's Story

Read Chanette's inspirational journey from breast cancer diagnosis to surprise pregnancy!

Tell us a bit about yourself...

I am a 33 year old wife and mother. I’m a History teacher by profession and in my spare time I am an avid reader and crafter (I like to sew and make handmade cards). I also enjoy rambling walks and cooking.

How would you describe yourself?

A planner and driven!

Biggest achievement in life to date...

… a tough one to answer, but aside from beating cancer I’d have to say, before that it was completing my undergrad degree as a mature student and single parent.

What type of surgery did you have?

A prophylactic bilateral mastectomy and full node clearance.

How did you feel when you first found out?

I was in absolute shock when the diagnosis came back. I remember laughing then bursting into tears. It felt like a twisted joke. My biggest worry was “what will happen to Eve?!” (my daughter, who was 8 at the time).

Who did you turn to when you first found out and who helped you the most throughout?

My mum and husband were with me initially. They were also there through the rounds of chemo, hospital stays, complications and surgery along with my daughter and my friends. My friends were really amazing, they kept me motivated, kept me company, kept us all fed and helped care for the three of us throughout it all.

Was there anything that helped you through your treatment?

My friendships were essential and having my friends and family do normal things with me were part of what kept me sane. For example having coffee and cake weekly with my friend, even when I couldn’t eat it or when I was in hospital. Still wearing my favourite bright coloured clothes and accessorising with bright lipstick and headscarves also helped. I wasn’t able to work, so having company really helped to break the monotony and loneliness. I also began blogging and using Instagram as a way to vent my feelings. Even though I only used these platforms to share with wider friends and family members it was helpful for them to be able to understand where I was at.

What advice would you like to give to your younger self?

1. Listen to your body during chemo and surgery. Speak to you care team and doctors if anything doesn’t feel right - you know your body best and you don’t need to suffer unnecessarily.

2. Try to find the joy, even on the darkest days. This can seem so hard, but it really does help.

3. Nothing has to define you forever and cancer is only part of your story, it is not the whole!

Do you have an inspirational story to share with other ladies?

Before active treatment started I had been told that the likelihood of my husband and I having a child together was something that would be highly unlikely (as a result of the chemo and going onto Zoladax injections). When my breast cancer was then later confirmed as being triple-negative and caused by the BRCA1 genetic fault, I was then told I would need to have a prophylactic bilateral oophorectomy to safeguard me against future secondary cancer. With the medication, chemo, early menopause and scheduled surgeries we pretty much wrote off being able to have any more children. However as I began the process of my recovery into the new year (2017) we began planning a big family holiday (to Florida) and scheduled my oophorectomy. On the day of my surgery, minutes before being wheeled into the anaesthetic theatre my surgeon cancelled my operation and came to tell me that I was pregnant. We were 7 weeks and 6 days along!! Despite suffering miscarriages (prior to my cancer diagnosis) and against all the odds of complications associated with my post-chemo medication, we were now set to welcome our seemingly healthy miracle baby ‘Jellybean’ in February 2018. So I have to say never give up never know what life has in store!

What is your favourite Nicola Jane bra?

The Carrie camisole bra for everyday/work, the camisole just makes me feel more secure and the hint of lace is also quite fun!

When purchasing a post-surgery bra or swimsuit what do you look for?

Fit, style and comfort. It can be hard to find attractive five post-surgery items for younger women.

Do you have any post-surgery styling tips?

1. Be honest and true to yourself, I have days when I’m super confident and go flat and other days where I feel more whole wearing my prosthetics. So embrace those different days and different moods - don’t feel like you have to explain yourself or apologise.
2. Find something that works for you - I tried headscarves, wigs, big earrings, bright lipstick and rocked the bald. I’ve experimented and found new things I like about myself; that I didn’t know or see before
Written By
Leave your comment