Australian mother Kirstin Pretorius was just 34 years old when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. “Ironically, this year marked the peak of my ‘health’ and my fitness,” she says. “I’ve never felt better, stronger, or more comfortable with myself than I did turning 34. My marriage had never been better and my children were thriving. Everything was beautifully bright. But, despite feeling perfectly well, I went for my routine yearly health check.”
That’s when doctors discovered three tumors in Kirstin’s right breast and diagnosed her with breast cancer on the 23rd of June, 2017.
For a time after her diagnosis, Kirstin recalls looking back at photos of herself when she had cancer but didn’t know it and being frustrated with herself for not being able to feel the cancer or know it was there.
Cancer certainly has been no fairy tale, of course. Kirstin has endured extreme fatigue, lack of appetite, and anxiety. But even the parts of treatment she thought would go well often have not. After freezing her scalp to keep the hair from falling out during chemotherapy, she still began to lose her locks. And, she says, “it didn’t elegantly drop to the ground like autumn leaves.” Instead, “it ripped away in painful patches to accentuate the face of disease.”
But it didn’t take long for her to remember just how blessed she is with loving friends and a beautiful family, including her supportive husband and two lovely daughters.
“It’s not exactly what we had planned,” Kirstin writes in one of her Instagram posts, “but there will always be moments of magic.”
Kirstin began chronicling her breast cancer journey on Instagram and has become a source of inspiration to many who are going through something similar in their lives. Through her chemotherapy treatments and the other trials that come along with breast cancer, she has found countless reasons to smile.
She’s also found some ways to have a little fun. There’s certainly no lack of sarcasm and humor in her posts. “Fortunately, once they froze my fingers,” she writes in one, “the hour of frost bite torture took my mind right of my throbbing scalp. Small victories! Oh well, anything to prevent these finger nails from falling off!”
Thank you, Kirstin, for using your experience to brighten the lives of others. We wish you all the best in your journey.
Elizabeth Nelson is a wordsmith, an alumna of Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, a four-leaf-clover finder, and a grammar connoisseur. She has lived in west Michigan since age four but loves to travel to new (and old) places. In her free time, she. . . wait, what’s free time?