Nina was diagnosed with breast cancer at just 25 years old. After a routine breast check in the shower, Nina noticed a small lump on her right breast which turned out to be triple-negative breast cancer.
Nina had her last surgery in November 2016 after going through a lumpectomy, chemotherapy, a bilateral mastectomy, intensive radiotherapy, and another five operations to repair her damaged tissue. Nina has since become a yoga instructor to help other women who have also been through breast cancer. Read her letter below.
Can you believe we’ve made it to 2030? After beating breast cancer in your 20’s I am so proud to let you know that you handled that journey with dedication, respect, self-love, and compassion. People don’t understand what the female body has to endure while beating breast cancer: your scars are your story and they represent your success and endurance.
Before all of this, I was a 25-year-old young woman living in Surry Hills. I was loud, outspoken and able to make a good time out of any situation. Then before I even had time to comprehend what was happening, I was sitting in a doctor’s office hearing the words ‘Your tests came back positive, you have breast cancer’. Suddenly I didn’t know how to make a good time out of this situation. My life was completely turned upside down. Instead of figuring which bar we should start our night at, now it was about squeezing in a blood test before chemotherapy, oh and freezing my eggs at 25 in case I went into early menopause. Suddenly counting the minutes, it took ‘him’ to write back were a little less important than losing all the hair on your body before your 26th birthday.
So, I went from loud and outspoken to being direct and fearless. I don’t think there really is a ‘good’ age to be diagnosed with breast cancer but through my adventure, it helped me realise what really is important in life. I don’t want to be anyone else but who I am today, thanks to the hurdles and accomplishments that I have experienced. Breast cancer has helped me greatly appreciate life more and what it has to offer.
One of the biggest moments in my life is when I walked out of my surgeon’s office and was given the all-clear. It felt like a chain had been lifted, I felt lighter and freer for the first time in five years. Once I started exercising again, I realised my body was still healing from the inside and certain things I was able to do before were no longer accessible. The only people who would understand my frustration would be other women who had also experienced this life. I wish I had someone like that while I was building my strength back, so since then I became a yoga instructor, specifically teach women who have been or are going through breast cancer. It’s a long journey so receiving a little help and understanding goes a long way for you, your body and mind.
In the future, I would love to see more women embrace their health and power with help from friends, family, foundations and most of all researchers. The NBCF always wanted what was best for the breast cancer community. Their ambition to always make things a little easier ensured us that there would always be light at the end of the pink tunnel.
I’m very grateful that today the words ‘breast cancer’ are met with intelligence and assurance. Over the years researchers found a way to stop deaths from breast cancer. Breast cancer is now not the end-all and be-all of your diagnosis.
In 1994 the 5-year survival rate for breast cancer was 76%. In 2020, the 5-year survival rate was 91%. Now the survival rate is 100% and that makes me ecstatic.
Before I let you go and live your life to the fullest in 2030, I would like to remind you of all the people who helped you get here today. All your surgeons, specialists and the people who love you and made you smile through everything especially the tough times.
Love you xo