Health

Mom Shares Instagram Photo To Make A Point About Hidden Cancer Symptoms

One newly diagnosed cancer patient is sharing some critical advice.

Kirstin Pretorius felt that she was in the prime of her life.

At age 34, the Australian mom of two was energetic, physically fit and happy. She ate a healthy, nearly all-vegan diet. She kept her home spotless without the use of dangerous chemicals. Her regular fitness routine was helping her become even stronger and fitter.

However, a routine medical exam changed her life forever. Her doctor found a lump in her breast. Although Pretorius performed self exams, the lump could only be felt when she was lying down with her arm over her head.

Her doctor sent her for an ultrasound, assuring Pretorius that it was probably nothing.

“But the ultrasound led to a mammogram, which led to a biopsy, which came back as cancer,” Pretorius told 9Honey. “It happens so quickly—it was maybe two weeks from the first check-up to diagnosis.”

She soon discovered that she had not one but three tumors in her right breast, which had spread to her lymph nodes.

Known by family and friends for her positive attitude and sunshine-y spirit, Pretorius took to Instagram to share her battle publicly. On her profile, Kicking_the_Big_C, she has shared updates and motivational insights since her diagnosis on June 23.

One post in particular drew attention for the important message that accompanied it.

In this picture, I was living with cancer. I just didn't know it yet. Ironically, this year marked the peak of my 'health' and my fitness. 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. And that's when they discovered 'the limp'. The lump. I look at this picture from a simply blissful family holiday celebrating my 10 year wedding anniversary and all I can think is… 'KIRSTIN how can you not know that there are 3 tumours thriving away in your breast? How can you not FEEL the cancer slipping into your lymph nodes? Why don't you FEEL sick? How can you be so stupid?!' But I didn't know and I didn't feel. If my doctor hadn't examined me, I'd still be blissfully unaware, reaching new fitness goals with my body, eating my futile little anti-oxidant high virtually-vegan wonder food diet… I'd be packing my little plastic-free super food school lunches for my girls, lecturing them on healthy lifestyles. I'd be chemically-free cleaning my home wondering why the whole world doesn't use essential oils. All the while growing and feeding my precious cancer. So check your boobs. Know your body. Cancer happens. To anyone. #breastcancer #breastexam #cancersucks #knowyourbody

A post shared by Kirstin Pretorius (@kicking_the_big_c) on

Beneath a glowing photo, Pretorius wrote:

“In this picture, I was living with cancer. I just didn’t know it yet. Ironically, this year marked the peak of my ‘health’ and my fitness. 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. And that’s when they discovered ‘the limp’. The lump.

I look at this picture from a simply blissful family holiday celebrating my 10 year wedding anniversary and all I can think is… ‘KIRSTIN how can you not know that there are 3 tumours thriving away in your breast? How can you not FEEL the cancer slipping into your lymph nodes? Why don’t you FEEL sick? How can you be so stupid?!’

But I didn’t know and I didn’t feel. If my doctor hadn’t examined me, I’d still be blissfully unaware, reaching new fitness goals with my body, eating my futile little anti-oxidant high virtually-vegan wonder food diet… I’d be packing my little plastic-free super food school lunches for my girls, lecturing them on healthy lifestyles. I’d be chemically-free cleaning my home wondering why the whole world doesn’t use essential oils. All the while growing and feeding my precious cancer.

So check your boobs. Know your body. Cancer happens. To anyone.”

No one looking at Pretorius’ photo would think she was ill, and that’s the whole point. Pretorius wants to challenge the idea that cancer looks a certain way or only affects certain people. By honestly sharing the ups and downs of her journey on social media, she’s changing the dialogue around cancer.

She even shared a poem in August that beautifully captures her courage:

“The storms blew and scattered my plans,
But I wiped away tears and painted a smile,
Gathered the flowers strewn at my feet
And assembled a crown.”

“Because I have family overseas, I wanted to show them what was going on. And I wanted to document it for myself,” she told 9Honey, “But also I wanted to raise awareness of the reality of cancer, to show each step of the way.”

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Along with pictures displaying her trials and triumphs, Pretorius reminds her followers to check themselves regularly and correctly.

So, keep up with that healthy lifestyle, learn the warning signs of breast cancer, make sure you know the correct way to perform a self exam and do it monthly. Early detection can make it easier to treat breast cancer successfully.

[h/t: Good Housekeeping]