We have been enormously fortunate to feature some fabulous writers here on Valiant Lingerie's blog and today is no different.

Today's guest blog was written by wonderful Lindsey who wrote her first book, "The Little Things: a breast cancer memoir", last year while undergoing treatment for stage two breast cancer.    

Lindsey Kennedy lives on the beautiful Mornington Peninsula, Victoria, Australia with her husband John and two children Layla (13) and Lennox (10). She is a public speaker, civil celebrant, teacher and describes herself as a cancer kicker! Lindsey is the founder of #CheckYourselfTuesday, a catchphrase that many of her social media followers use to check their breasts shape and size looking for changes. She believes that our hands can be one of the best tools for early detection and wants to get both men and women to know their breast/pectoral area as well as their armpits and necks.    

You can find Lindsey on Facebook: Lindsey Kennedy and on Instagram @lindseykennedylives  

Her book is available on Amazon as a paperback and Kindle version.

Here's Lindsey's story:  

"In 2004, my younger brother, Sean, was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma at nineteen years of age. While it devastated our family, he fought the battle of his life and won. Ten years later saw the breast cancer diagnosis of my only sister, Roisin Pelan, who was pregnant at the time with her first child. It came back as incurable Stage 3C early 2018. She called me urging me too, to get checked… it saved my life.  

There is something to be said about lived experiences. I am a daughter, sister, mother and wife who, in 2018, had to muster all my positive thinking and strong mindset to battle a breast cancer battle. My debut book "The Little Things: a breast cancer memoir" was written during my recovery from a stage two diagnosis that took a little over two years to win. With the support of my family and friends, I found silver linings, pushed away negative thoughts and took control, when at times, control seemed lost. This book was not written to be self-indulgent, nor to seek attention, but to offer insight and awareness in and around the subject of breast cancer. After my own diagnosis and not finding the book I wanted, I felt compelled to write one.  

I wrote this book to encourage and promote healthy, vital conversation in and around the topic of breast cancer. We are so lucky these days even younger women are open to this form of conversation. Years ago, many would consider this narrative as taboo or indeed, dirty. I’m here to get women to become more breast aware and check themselves regularly. In the end, my book, vitally, signifies hope rather than despondency.  

I believe that having a good doctor is vital. Many people admit to me that they don’t change doctors, even if they don’t necessarily like them, or get the outcome they want, or if they disagree with what they suggest because "He has been my family doctor for years", or "They’ll do, I don’t go to the doctors often anyway". Loyalty is admirable, but not at the expense of your future health. It is really important to feel respected and understood by your G.P. You also need to be able to say the embarrassing (to some) words such as breasts, nipples and vagina, even if it means squirming in your seat. If this is not the case, my advice would be – you NEED to change doctors.  

My doctor actioned diagnostic testing which revealed, unfortunately, that I was positive for cancer. The four centimetre mass was estrogen and progesterone positive, which meant that the estrogen and progesterone in my body were feeding the growth of the tumour. Damn, I got it just for being a woman! The invasive, ductal, stage two, grade one carcinoma had been hibernating in my right breast. Cancer just invited itself in, set up camp and wreaked havoc… that is, until it was caught.  

Life’s rose-coloured glasses had splintered. Hearing the diagnosis was the start of my thinking that life just might not be the bed of roses I thought it was. Cancer was about to change the course of my life but I whispered to it; "Cancer, you picked the wrong lady!"  

I endured, like many, a lumpectomy and had three sentinel nodes removed (only cancer in one), chemotherapy, radiation therapy, a breast reduction, and a double mastectomy with D.I.E.P (using tissue form my stomach). Like that was not enough, a nasty, rare bacteria – only found in five countries in the world, decided to make me its host and started to "rot" away my chest and stomach leaving me looking rather like a patchwork quilt under my shirt and double figures when talking surgeries. Further to that, I had to have a skin graft and then start the journey of re-re-construction. I’m all healed now but am left with scars and stories to match.  

I now realise that nothing could have stopped me from getting cancer, no matter how many vegetables I ate, no matter how much sugar I cut out, no matter how many squats or lunges I managed, no matter what I did. It did not respect me as a person. I also came to the stark realisation that without intervention, my own body would have killed me. What the hell was my flesh and blood doing working against me? In the end, I've learned that maybe everything I went through was trying to build me, not break me."  

Thank you so much for sharing your story with us today, Lindsey. We're looking forward to reading your memoir!  

January 30, 2021 — Eleanor Howie