Educating Young Women About Cancer Is Essential

08/03/2011 10:35 | Updated 22 May 2015

"You have cancer" - Three words forever tattooed on my soul. Always one to be relatively organised, I never thought I'd be adding 'Beat Cancer' to my list of 'things to do before I'm 30'. It all started in June 2008; I was 22 and discovered my lumpy breast. Eight months and three misdiagnoses later, I stared a hairless, boobless life in the face. I had secondary breast cancer. This once 'probably nothing' suddenly became quite something. I was young and healthy, ate well, exercised, drank in moderation, I said my please and thank yous for crying out loud.

Cancer was something that happened to other people. But instead, it happened to me.

After diagnosis, radiotherapy on my spine began, followed by five months of chemotherapy, a mastectomy and more radiotherapy. My body was put to the ultimate test, and survived.

Three days before my hair fell out, I set up CoppaFeel!, a breast cancer awareness and education charity telling the young people of Britain to start checking their boobs. I didn't know I could get Breast Cancer at my age and I certainly wasn't feeling them. I realised this was because us youngsters are not being told to. I have faint memories of an elderly lady coming to our school to let us have a prod around of a fake boob with lumps inside, whilst we tried to resist giggling. This didn't help me in the slightest. So when the biggest unlucky stick chose to hit me, I decided that the breast cancer perception and message needed a makeover and I was just the gal to do it! We all know that early detection is the best form of defence, so the sooner we find breast cancer, the more likely we'll beat it. Perhaps if someone like me had told me to check my boobs, be vigilant, and know that breast cancer doesn't care how old you are, well, who knows what could have been.

I'm not cancer free and probably never will be. But, then, who is? Cancer affects 1 in 3 people at some point in their lives. This disease will touch us all in one way or another. Every 4 weeks I grace my hospital's Chemo Suite with my presence for what I call a shot of bone juice. Despite this, life does go on. I'm still just a twentysomething girl, who has to do her laundry and gets upset over guys, much like all my cancer-free peers. But I refuse to let cancer wreck my party. There are just too many cool things to do and live for!

Running a charity and living with cancer is a full-time job with amazing perks, terrible hours and no Christmas bonus. My boss (me) is totally unreasonable, always pushing and driving me, no matter how tired I get. But it just so happens that the work is incredibly fulfilling and varied. I love giving people an insight to the inner workings of a cancer warrior and by sharing all that, I'm proving that life doesn't stop when the turbulent ouchies come along.

The harsh reality of this disease is that it's so unpredictable, as is now my life. If cancer has taught me anything, it is to be flexible. It can be a pretty gusty wind that can completely uproot you if you don't sway with it. My life revolves around cancer, I may not like that particular aspect of this job, but since I'm not quitting and it's unlikely that I'll fire me, I may as well get on with it.

Kris is a self proclaimed cancer warrior on a mission to get everyone in Britain to start checking their boobs and making it a habit of a lifetime. Since being diagnosed in 2009 with secondary breast cancer at the age of 23, she set up a charity called CoppaFeel!, won a Pride of Britain Award and saved lives - all thanks to her boobs. Her new hobby has become striving for a world where no one dies of breast cancer due to late detection or misdiagnosis. Go on, cop a feel.


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