Ten years after being diagnosed with an incurable form of breast cancer, 50 year-old Maggie Prentice is featured alongside fellow cancer survivors in a powerful photo shoot to raise awareness for those affected by the disease.
The 50-year-old New Zealand-based mother of two, who proudly models lingerie in the untouched campaign, opened up about the emotional journey of her diagnosis.
“’I jumped in the shower and it must have been the way that the light was shining through the window and into the mirror — I could see my breasts were quite misshapen and I hadn’t noticed that before,’ Prentice told the Daily Mail.
That same day, Prentice met with her doctor for what would be a decade-long struggle to come to terms with living with breast cancer.
“It took a long time to process but at the time when you’re diagnosed you just get on the roller coaster and you keep going – you’ve got appointments to go to and treatments that need to be done,” she said.
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After a biopsy and mastectomy, Prentice learned the cancer had spread to her lymphatic system after she found three small bumps on her neck. Within two months of her initial diagnosis, doctors told her the cancer was incurable.
“’It was heartbreaking, it was devastating,” she said “When I had the surgery and they had taken 13 lymph nodes from under my arm I think I was quite naive and I didn’t understand the consequences of that.”
Doctors feared that the cancer would continue to spread throughout her body — so they began an aggressive treatment plan. Prentice recalls, “’They did chemotherapy, then radiation and herceptin. I did anything I could, anything they would give me I’d take, anything to have a better outcome.”
A week after Prentice’s initial diagnosis, her husband was also diagnosed with cancer. The couple had surgery in the same hospital a day apart. “’It was a really crazy time for the whole family but now he’s perfect, he’s great and he was discharged from oncology and doing any further treatments two weeks ago. “
Although it has taken time, Prentice says a positive attitude has helped her overcome and accept her diagnosis.
“I had a scare last year but that reinforced the idea that you’ve got to live each day as it is and not to be reckless with your health,” she said. “I have a lot to live for and my children are young adults, there is a lot to see and for them to achieve.”
Prentice now goes for annual mammograms to monitor her health.
“’Unless you see issues pop up or things change, don’t worry about it, live life and get on with it.”
Part of living life for Prentice was participating alongside two other breast cancer survivors in the Lonely Lingerie shoot by Sweet Louise, a New Zealand organization that aims to support those diagnosed with incurable cancer. Prentice says the shoot helped push her out of her comfort zone.
“It was something I felt uncomfortable about as I was heavier than ever and having had a mastectomy and everything but it was something that I just wanted to do for me,” she explained.