By Liana Jacob
THIS BRITISH MUM feels confident with just ONE BOOB after battling breast cancer – and has taken part in a SEXY PHOTOSHOOT to prove it.
In September 2018, seamstress and mum of two, Kimberley Birkett (29) from Kent, UK, had just been on holiday to Cumbria when she found a lump in her left breast. She felt scared and rushed to the doctors.
However, her doctor brushed it off due to her young age, but she insisted on having a biopsy, ultrasound and mammogram to be sure. The result showed that she had grade three invasive ducal carcinoma breast cancer.
Kimberley, who is a mum to two children, Ruben (6) and Violet (4), had to undergo seven rounds of chemotherapy and radiotherapy, during which she lost 2st, lost her hair and she had brittle toenails that fell off.
Her confidence was knocked when she had to undergo a mastectomy in March 2019. While she felt like a ‘weight had been lifted’ after the surgery, she struggled to accept her body. However, her outlook changed when she participated in a photoshoot embracing her scars.
She is now sharing her journey on Instagram to prove that you are not ‘too young’ for cancer, as it does not discriminate.
Kimberley has now been cancer-free for nearly a year as of March 14, 2019.
“I was coming home from the summer holidays, I had been on holiday to Cumbria when I found the lump and went straight to the doctors from there,” Kimberley said.
“I felt very scared. The doctors kept saying that because of my age and the pain I was having it all should have been ok.
“I had to first of all have a biopsy and an ultrasound, then it went onto a mammogram. Then I was diagnosed with grade three invasive ducal carcinoma breast cancer and in my lymph node it showed metastatic carcinoma.
“I didn’t know how to feel I was just scared, it’s the unknowing of everything. I had a lot of side effects to chemotherapy.
“The chemo made my stomach very upset to certain foods. It also made me lose my hair, I lost two-stone in weight, my nails became frail and fell off from my feet, eyelashes fell out and other body hair.
“From the mastectomy and lymph node clearance, I developed Post-mastectomy pain syndrome (PMPS), which is extreme pain to the scar area and causes nerve damage. I had and still have problems lifting my left arm and as a result lost a lot of muscle mass, so the strength of my arm isn’t very good.
“In a way I had to stay strong as my children can read me like a book. It also made me cope better. I’d rather put my mind into being happy and helping others then moping about being poorly.
“I asked the nurse when I would roughly be expecting my hair to fall out, so I booked a ‘Brave the Shave’ by Macmillan for after the second round of chemo.
“But my hair started falling out before the time they said; a week after my first chemo session, I brushed my hair and a massive clump just came out with my brush. I burst into tears.
“So, the next day, I rang my hairdressers and got her to come to my house and I shaved my head the next day and raised over £1,000 for Macmillan from home, as I didn’t make it to the charity day at the pub.
“But I did still end up raising more money at the pub and ended up raising just under £2,000 altogether.”
In August 2019, Kimberley posed in various positions showing her body after the mastectomy in a photoshoot taken by photographer, Lauren Baker (32) and she says the experience made her feel ‘beautiful’.
“To be honest having the mastectomy was easier than I expected; I felt like a weight was lifted when my breast was removed, but it was very hard to accept my body after but I’m getting there and it’s becoming normal to me now,” she said.
“It changed my outlook on life and made me want to do better with myself. In a strange way I became more confident within myself and more comfortable to talk about things to others.
“The photoshoot made me feel beautiful, in a simple answer. Just because I’ve had body parts removed and hair fallen out etc. doesn’t mean I am ugly to society. I still rock a bald head and one boob.
“I felt amazing and so very proud of myself as I knew in some way I would be helping others whether it’s to put a smile on their faces or to help someone else through their journey and be happy with their body.
“I still live day to day fearing it may come back. Yes, I know I’m cancer free but I always have a niggling feeling of ‘what if’.
“It’s an annual scare on the wait for the mammogram/MRI yearly scan. My life has improved because I have become a better person, I think when you go through such an awful thing you see things a lot differently.
“Try and stay positive throughout it all. I know it’s scary and you’re being prodded and poked and your life had been turned upside down, but you’ve got this.”