'I Was Diagnosed with Breast Cancer and Had a Masectomy at 23. Always Trust Your Gut' - Women's Health

‘I Was Diagnosed with Breast Cancer and Had a Masectomy at 23. Always Trust Your Gut’

With no known history of cancer in her family, Kamya was told by her doctors not to worry,

by | Sep 16, 2021

Kamya, 29, found a small lump in her breast but didn’t think anything of it as she has no family history of breast cancer. The doctors said it was nothing to worry about but her local GP pushed her to have more testing and it turned out to be cancer. She had a mastectomy and reconstruction at 23.  

My name is Kamya, I’m 29 years old and have no known history of cancer in my family. I was diagnosed when I was 23 after I discovered a small lump on my left breast. Initially, I didn’t think much of it—I had no real symptoms and assumed the information I researched didn’t apply to me because I was so young. Something in my gut told me to check it out anyway, so I went to get my first ultrasound before going home to New Zealand for the school break. The doctors told me it was nothing, and I didn’t need to worry, so I accepted that answer at the time and booked the trip home.

When I got to NZ, my local GP wanted me to check the lump as the first results weren’t very clear. He sent me for another ultrasound, which still showed some uncertainty about the lump, so I was sent for a biopsy two weeks later. The results returned as DCIS (Stage 0 cancer), which means that it hadn’t yet spread to surrounding breast tissue and was a form of invasive pre-cancer.

I was in shock and thought the results must’ve been a mistake. If I accepted the first ultrasound results as a final answer, the GP said it would’ve turned into cancer and spread. That was when I realised the biggest lesson in all this– always trust your gut feelings.

Everything happened so quickly, and my uni holiday was extended a little longer. Ten days after receiving my results, I was booked to have a mastectomy of my left breast. I hardly knew what that meant and would entail— I was a 23-year-old trying to enjoy my uni days. It’s not really something you think about, especially with no family history or symptoms.

After the surgery, I didn’t know my options in terms of expanders and implants, so I wasn’t given a choice to have them. I was left flat on one side and fitted with a prosthesis and mastectomy bra. When I returned to Melbourne, I wanted to further reduce any other risk of breast cancer for the future, so I opted for the prophylactic mastectomy of my right breast and was put on a hormone therapy drug called Tamoxifen for five years. After this surgery, I was given the option for reconstruction and was thankful I could have the chance to feel more like myself again.

As a young woman going through breast cancer, my relationship with my body changed drastically. I was disappointed in how I looked and frustrated I couldn’t find beautiful lingerie to wear after my mastectomy. Even when the cancer is gone, going through this takes a toll on your self-confidence and what it means to “feel like a woman.” No one can prepare you for how you’re going to look after surgery. Regardless of what age or stage of life you’re in, it’s still going to suck—and it’s okay to say that.

This is where the idea came about for Queen Zaria. I started this company to empower young women to feel good about their bodies again. I wanted to offer beautiful lingerie exclusively for women who have undergone reconstruction related to breast cancer. This wasn’t solely about the bras; it was important that this became a support network for young women.

My biggest obstacle in this experience was myself and not letting people in. I had a negative attitude in the beginning and went through a stage of hating myself and the world for a while. Like many of us, I would bottle up my problems and never talk about them again. Eventually, I got myself out of that thinking once and realised that doctors, friends, and family were only trying to help.

Early on, if I had the support of women who understood what I was going through, it would’ve helped so much. During my experience in NZ, there was a lack of something like Pink Hope. So, when I finally found the network, I wanted to give back to others what Pink Hope had given to me— a supportive community of women to lift each other up. There are so many young women out there going through a similar situation with no genetic history or symptoms and are stuck in a constant thought process of “What do I do now?”

Pink Hope has been important in guiding me in the right direction of answers, information and normalising an open conversation.

Being Fearless to me means having those conversations and being vulnerable to share your story to allow people in. It’s having a guiding voice of reason that says, “even though I’ve gone through this horrible experience, I’m still fortunate enough to have other good things in my life and function as well as I did before.”

Since I’ve been more open with my story, many people have been coming to me for advice regarding lumps and health issues. The more we start talking about these things, the less taboo it will be in any community— family, different cultures, or friendships. Not everyone will be up for talking about health issues or lumps because it seems personal, but why not? Why can’t we make it something people aren’t so afraid of—it could help save your life.

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It’s official: Shorts Season is officially here. While lockdown has seen many of us realise that activewear is less something to be worn for a workout and more a uniform we choose to do any and all daily activities in, when the warmer temperatures roll around, that favourite pair of sweatpants and leggings sometimes don’t cut it. Sure, they might be a staple in any wardrobe, but the Aussie sun doesn’t listen to reason, no matter how comfortable or cute it might be. And when it comes to summer, working out in leggings can feel like being trapped in a sauna, the sweat pooling at your ankles and around the waistband – as well as those other areas we won’t mention here. 

But as we transition from leggings to shorts, it becomes clear pretty quickly that not all shorts are created equal, and certainly not all shorts are fit for a workout. Take it from us at Women’s Health HQ, we’ve been there, tried it and lived to see the consequences. From the shorts that look cute but ride up to show your undies on the run, to those that feel like being strapped into a harness that’s digging into your hip bones. Then there are the fabrics that can cause chafing – a big no – and those that basically shine a spotlight on any area you might be sweating. 

Thankfully, a number of brands are here to cater to your exercise needs with innovative materials, fabrics and sustainable options to see you through a summer of movement. Regardless of your workout preferences or daily activity, we’ve selected the best shorts that will ensure you feel good in your body, shorts that get you excited to embrace the day and attack it with energy, that make you want to get outside and enjoy the outdoors, whether it be walking, running, or socialising in the park. Here are our pick of the best bike shorts below. 

Nagnata

Uptown Biker, $240

What says summer more than a pop of orange and the sleek shape of these Nagnata biker shorts? With its mid-length and horizontal raised rib side detail, these are shorts you can wear both for a workout and out to meet the girls. Made in Australia with a technical knit fabrication, the double-layer jacquard provides gentle sculpting qualities for the body, making it an excellent choice for light to moderate fitness activities like yoga, pilates or barre. 

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New Balance

Q Speed Fuel Short, $70

We love the colour of these shorts from New Balance which are cut with a sleek, speedy look that also helps to elongate the legs. Featuring NB DRY moisture wicking fabric, these are the shorts you want for high intensity exercise or long runs, keeping you comfortable and dry. There’s also an interior brief for added comfort and a stash pocket to keep your essentials. 

All Access

Ultra High Rise Zip Front Biker Short, $78

Yes, the colour is amazing but the fit is equally sensational on these All Access shorts. For those who love a high-rise fit and wide waistband that holds you in at the waist, look no further. The sleek, shiny look offers mid-compression and the fabric is moisture-wicking, so you can stay comfortable even during your sweatiest workouts. 

Nike

Nike x Naomi Osaka Utility Short, $90

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Tracksmith

Session short Tights, $72

When it comes to bike shorts, you want to feel supported and held in but you also want to be able to breathe. These Tracksmith session short tights are exceptional in offering support while still ensuring comfort remains a priority. Forget about chafing, these shorts won’t ride up and down and the fabric offers more coverage and support against the body. 

Outdoor Voices

Relay 3” Short, $48

Who said summer shorts have to be boring? Outdoor Voices brings fashion-forward style and playfulness to their collections with fun prints and exciting colours. We love the relay 3” shorts for their ultralight, quick-drying fabric that also happens to be made from recycled polyester. But more importantly, we love the print and Poppy Swirl is as good as it gets. There’s even a hidden pocket for your valuables, too. 

Lululemon

Align High-Rise Short 6”, $69

If you’re familiar with the buttery-soft feel of Lululemon’s tights, you’ll want to get your hands on a pair of their shorts, too. Made with the same Nulu fabric that their tights are known for, these shorts feel weightless and super soft. They might be our go-to staple for any workout, but the feel is so second-skin that it’s hard to not wear them for every other activity, too. 

Spiritual Gangster

Seamless Biker Short, $112

These biker shorts from Spiritual Gangster move with you, thanks to a three-tiered compressive waistband that offers a flattering high waist that hugs you in all the right places, without proving constrictive. They offer medium compression but are built for all day comfort, and the colour is a true summer staple because, let’s face it, who doesn’t love tie-dye?