Kirstin Pretorius is a mother of two who lives a healthy life, eating strictly vegan, discouraging her children from using plastic food containers and cleaning her home with natural products.
In fact, she claims she was feeling her healthiest when she was diagnosed with breast cancer.
In a raw Instagram post, the Sydney, Australia native introduced her new account, kicking_the_big_c.
“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 lump’,” she wrote.
“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?’… 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… all the while growing and feeding my precious cancer.”
Despite feeling her healthiest, keeping up with her daughters, vacationing with family and working out regularly, Pretorius told Daily Mail when the doctor found the lumps that she immediately ruled out cancer.
“I was certain that it wouldn’t be cancer because I was in such good health so when they said it was I was just completely shocked,” she admitted.
“I thought I was doing breast exams right but I wasn’t because I couldn’t feel it.”
Now she’s capturing her journey on her Instagram feed, from shaving her head with her two young girls to pre-chemo parties and wig fittings. Despite the disheartening diagnosis, the young mom wants to be as candid as possible.
“Watch out, I’ve got one for nearly every mood and I’ve been medically warned that ‘menopausal mood swings’ will be coming my way. Who knows which one of my personae you might run into?” she joked in an Instagram caption.
Within a week of her diagnosis Pretorius had a full mastectomy, with doctors removing three tumours from her breast. She also found out during this surgical procedure that the cancer cells had travelled into her lymph nodes, meaning chemo was imminent.
“I survived my first week after chemo! I actually feel like a partial human being again! Woohoo… A challenging day of facing reality was made all the sweeter by having my beautiful mom by my side,” she posted.
Originally the Instagram account was followed by family and friends of Pretorius but since posting regularly, she has a growing following of fellow cancer patients and people who have been impacted by the disease.
“You are amazing! I have watched several family members go through this horrible demon and you are handling it like a pro. Sending you lots of love and prayers from Ireland,” wrote one user.
“My mom went through chemo for breast cancer, and she’s 15 years clean. It’s a tough battle, and we wish you strength and courage!” posted another.
While she admits not every day is great, she’s trying to embrace her new journey with a light heart and positive mind.
“There’s nothing like a cancer induced buzz cut to force a bit of personal reinvention! It’s been a real challenge to try and feel comfortable and confident when my reflection doesn’t look like me. I’m a bag of bones, pail and exhausted, and have no hair. But life carries on and I refuse to hibernate for six months. So I’ve wrapped myself in bright sunshine pashminas, dangled on some enormous earrings, smeared on joyful hot pink lipstick and plastered on the biggest smile I can,” she wrote.
Her journey is even motivating others to take their health more seriously, inspiring them to get regular check ups and commit to regular self-examinations.
“I am so sorry that your pain is teaching some of us, including myself, not to be so naive about health. Thank goodness you had the sense to keep getting checks despite your good habits – unlike so many of us! Such a sobering example of what we should all be doing,” commented one follower.
“Thanks Kirst… I had my first ever mammogram and ultrasound this week – thanks to you,” added another.
While Pretorius still has more chemo, hormonal treatments and, potentially, radiation to complete, she wants to use her own experience to inspire others to take their health more seriously.
“Check your boobs. Know your body. Cancer happens. To anyone.”