Name: Brittany Churchill
Occupation: International Model & Influencer
Breast cancer type: Invasive Ductal Carcinoma; ER+ PR+ Her2-
Breast cancer stage: Stage 2
Treatment: 2 lumpectomies, FEC-D Chemotherapy, Radiation, Hormone therapy
What’s your go to pick me up song:
Steely Dan – Babylon Sisters
Tell us a fun fact about yourself:
My husband and I packed up as much stuff as we could in our car and moved to Las Vegas to follow our dreams! We drove during summertime and camped along the way. It was the best and longest road trip of my life! We drove over 4000km from Toronto to Las Vegas then a month later, I was diagnosed with breast cancer.
I can’t wait to be done treatment and go back to our new place. I renovated it as soon as I found out about my diagnosis, in between surgeries, so it’s perfect for when I’m done treatment!
How did you discover your breast cancer?
I discovered a lump five years ago in the shower, the day after I had a breast exam. I called my doctor to tell her about the lump and she sent me for an ultrasound but the doctor said it wasn’t anything to worry about. For years it never changed and the lump was never checked again until my doctor went on maternity leave. I had my yearly physical by her replacement and he asked me if there was anything else I needed checked. I told him about the lump I’ve had for years. He checked it and sent me for an ultrasound that day and it looked suspicious. I followed up with a small needle aspiration which had a-typical cells but not enough tissue to say if it was cancerous. A second biopsy was recommended but I changed my appointment to have the lump removed instead. The pathology of the lump came back cancerous.
What went through your head when you received your diagnosis?
I just remember a feeling of extreme heat come out of the top of my head. I didn’t expect the news at all. I thought we were going to talk about revising my small scar where the lump was removed and she said there’s unfortunately cancer. I teared up and said “Okay, what’s next?” I was trying to understand what she was saying so much that I had her repeat everything a couple times. I was with my mom. We hugged hard and cried for just a second. Then it was game time – I couldn’t break down, I needed to fix this. I went home and had to tell my husband over FaceTime which was very difficult.
What’s the craziest thing someone said to you after being diagnosed?
When I shaved my head I posted a photo on Instagram and some people didn’t realize I had cancer. There were comments that I was sexy! Something I never thought would look sexy. I’m really embracing my new look and I feel more beautiful now than ever.
A nice comment can make you feel very good when you are your most vulnerable. I cry more about how nice people have been during this whole thing than anything else.
Who has been your biggest support throughout your experience with breast cancer?
My mother and my husband! They are my earth angels. I definitely owe my positive attitude to having the support I need.
My husband and I had moved to Las Vegas right before my diagnosis. I am now doing my treatments in Toronto so we have to be apart a lot during my treatments. He is a UFC fighter and he is training for his next fight in Vegas, which happens to be the same day as my third round of chemo. We FaceTime everyday and make plans for when he gets to come see me and what we will do when I’m finished treatment.
My mom is with me almost everyday and takes me to all my appointments. She has taken time off work to just take care of me. She’s an incredible artist so she is painting more during this time, which is inspiring and therapeutic for me on my down days.
What has been the most difficult part of being a young woman with breast cancer?
At first it was fertility but I got my eggs and embryos frozen right away and has become the least of my worries for the time being.
The really difficult part is financially. I’ve always been self employed and able to provide for myself. That independence is extremely important to me. Being off work for a long period of time because of the surgeries and after just moving everything to a new country is extremely hard and feels like I’m starting over again and again. Not being able to do my treatment at home is not ideal. I have to remind myself that it is only temporary and to put my health first no matter what.
What’s something unexpected you learned about yourself as a result of having breast cancer?
I learned how powerful my mind is. I’ve kept a positive attitude since day one and am embracing this whole experience. Shaving my head was extremely liberating for me. Even with the scars and weird shaped tissue expander, I’ve never thought I was more beautiful or have loved my body like I do now.
In the past I was extremely hard on myself always striving for some kind of perfect, not ever 100 percent appreciating what I’m really made of. I have a very new perspective I didn’t know I could have and it brings me more happiness. I truly feel like I’m healing my entire self in a way I didn’t know I needed.
What words of wisdom would you pass on to another young woman who has just been diagnosed with breast cancer?
Be you! This is an opportunity to be the best to yourself because you really need it. Your body, mind, and soul needs you to love yourself more than ever when you have cancer. Love every thing about yourself, especially the part that has cancer because it needs the most loving! It’s okay to be selfish. You have to put yourself first, which is not easy but it’s your life!