October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. That means all month long, we’re celebrating the inspiring women living with or battling breast cancer. Meet Nikki, Jackie, Sarah, Alanna, and Inessa, who we photographed for our special Rethink Collection. And scroll to the bottom to find out how you can give back.
In 2015, Nikki was diagnosed with cervical cancer. Two years later: breast cancer. But this time felt different. “I didn’t feel a sense of sadness, I felt a sense of knowingness. I felt empowered because I had the tools and knowledge from before.”
This time around, Nikki challenged her doctors. She asked questions. She advocated for herself. And when they asked her, just twenty minutes after her breast cancer diagnosis, what size of reconstructed breasts she wanted, she requested the unexpected: “I want them both off.”
For Nikki, the decision was easy and freeing. And while her doctors, friends, and some family members pushed for reconstruction, Nikki remains firm in her decision. Her husband has supported her decision every step of the way and they’ve been honest with their two young daughters about what’s going on. This journey has solidified for Nikki, more than ever before, that women are more than their bodies and their breasts. “The power of femininity is within.”
All her life, Jackie has loved to run, travel, and play music. After being diagnosed with a rare mutated gene called PTEN, Jackie learned that, not only did she have cancer in her left breast, but she was at a high risk of contracting thyroid, kidney, uterus, and skin cancer. She opted for a double mastectomy to reduce further risk.
Jackie wondered if she’d ever run or play music again, or if so, how long would it take? 6 weeks later, she attempted her first run. “It was maybe 50m in total, but I felt like I just completed a marathon and it was the greatest feeling in the world.” Today, she’s running 10km every day, plays her instruments just like before, and just returned from a month traveling Europe. Rock on, Jackie!
In March 2018, Sarah tested positive for the BRCA-1 gene, which runs in her family and is associated with a high risk of developing cancer. “I consulted for a preventative double mastectomy, because I couldn’t live my life with an 87% risk.”
During a routine mammogram, they saw something. Cancer. She went ahead with her double mastectomy and immediate implant reconstruction, and after undergoing fertility treatments to harvest her eggs, has recently started chemotherapy. We took this photo one week after her first treatment.
Sarah’s been gradually cutting her long, blonde hair shorter, to get used to the idea of eventually losing it. She was told by other women who have been through the same thing that when everything in your life is changing against your will, cutting your hair at your own pace is one way to regain a small sense of control. Sarah, we think you’re rocking your short hair.
In the summer of 2017, Alanna felt a lump. It was cancer. And when Alanna learned her right breast would have to be removed, she was traumatized. “My breasts have always been a part of my femininity, my sexuality, and my womanhood.” When she was presented with her options, which included no reconstruction for a year, none of them seemed right for her. “Where is Option D: None of the above?”
She advocated for herself, requested another opinion, and thankfully, a different surgeon told her they could reconstruct right away with a “diep flap” procedure, where they’d take fat from the stomach and insert it into the breast.
After six weeks of recovery, followed by six rounds of chemotherapy, Alanna is learning to love her body again. She finds strength in positive thinking, learning to be grateful, and surrounding herself with people who lift her up. “I learned a lot about myself in this whole journey. And the more positive I was, the more positive vibes I got back.”
When Inessa was six weeks pregnant, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. At 13 weeks, she underwent a single mastectomy to remove the rare, cancerous tumor that was once a benign lump. And at 18 weeks, she let us photograph her in her undies.
Inessa’s baby is due in a few months, at which point she will begin radiation. Until then, she wears a prosthetic implant in her bra cup. Due to the risk associated with a prolonged surgery while pregnant, Inessa will undergo reconstruction of her left breast in a year or so.
For Inessa, staying positive and finding humour in everyday helps keep her going. “It’s just such a ridiculous situation … all you can do is laugh.” And thankfully, her baby is doing just fine.
This month, 5% of the sales from our limited-edition October colors will be donated to Rethink Breast Cancer. Plus, if you use the code RETHINK with any purchase on Knix.ca we'll donate an extra $5.