"I was told I didn't have cancer three times."

I was told I didn’t have cancer three times. Because I was too young, because I had no family history, because my ultrasound wasn’t suspicious. It was only after almost six weeks from my initial appointment that I insisted upon a biopsy because I KNEW deep down, the lump in my breast wasn’t a ‘breast mouse’ which is what they kept telling me it was.

Sure enough, after I had two different biopsies they diagnosed me with Invasive Ductal Carcinoma, the aggresive kind. The ‘oh shit’ kind. A week after my diagnosis, I had my boob chopped off and they confirmed it was stage two, grade three and it had spread to three of my lymph nodes. You know the rest…chemo, radiation, hormone drugs, menopause….a whirlwind of emotions and drugs.

Hayley recently finished treatment for breast cancer. Photo by Helga Dalla.

The shit show is over now, apart from the hot flushes, and I am all clear. I'm one boob down and a completely different girl to who I was six months ago but I'm happy and healthy and doing the whole 'living life to the fullest' thing and I'm so damn grateful I could burst. I have a new love for life, I am happier than I've been in years and I love the hell out of the people around me.


But I want something good to come from this, I want to help people, like people helped me when I needed it and I want to spread the word about the importance of early detection but also the importance of trusting your gut. My story could have been a hell of a lot different If I had listened to my GP, If I had not insisted on that biopsy, even when they told me it could do more harm than good. The type of cancer I had was so aggressive and so fast growing, it would have for sure spread throughout my body by now.  But because I didn't fit the profile, I didn't say answer 'yes' to family history and because of my age, they told me I was fine.  If anyone can take something from booking that mammogram, checking their boobs right now or following up any concerns that they have with their doctor, or just realising the importance of how quickly everything can change and how every single day we get on this earth is a blessing, then I'll be happy.

I had this photo taken after collaborating with a henna artist, who lost her mother to breast cancer because I wanted to spread the message about my diagnosis being missed by doctors and ultrasounds..

Thank you to the amazing Helga Dalla, Photo Journalist and Alicia Cowie from Henna Folk . Thank you also to Mandy from The Flower Pod for the stunning flower crowns you made us for the day. It was both fun and heartwarming to spend the day with such beautiful, talented, creative women.

I was actually blown away by the talent of these women.

I never imagined writing this, but like I said, I'm living life to the fullest, pushing the boundaries of my comfort zone and hopefully sprinkling a little bit of inspiration to those I meet along the way.

This is an edited post that was originally published on Hayley Sarah's blog ( and Hayley Sarah Art on Facebook ( and has been republished here with full permission. Photo by Helga Dalla Photojournalist.

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