What’s my story.

In November 2015 I was diagnosed with stage 2, grade 3, triple positive breast cancer.  Given that I had two cancerous lumps in one breast I felt my only real option was a double mastectomy and reconstruction.  This was then followed by 6 rounds of chemo and 18 sessions of Herceptin. I am currently on a drug trial and will continuing to take hormone therapy medication for a decade.

From the moment of diagnosis everything changed forever.  I was thrust into a world of medicine that up until this point I was blissfully unaware of.  I experienced multiple emotions all at the same time from shock, to despair to paralysing fear.  I learnt many lessons about who I am, made some significant changes in my life and dealt with a few huge mindset shifts.  But what was most surprising was that in all of the turmoil and angst I found my voice and my purpose.

Prior to my diagnosing I had been harbouring a big dark secret.

I was a prisoner of my mental health, specifically bipolar. I felt ashamed and filled with fear as I desperately wanted to be understood, but knew that sharing could mean the end to a friendship.  It was at the point, in the early hours of November 2015, I wrote to friends and family to explain that I had bipolar and had also been diagnosed with breast cancer. In that moment life was literally too short to keep hiding.  What if, by sharing my story I could help reduce the stigma around mental health or encourage you to check your bits then so much good can come from such a difficult situation. So I stepped into the light and have never looked back!

Being a Mumprenuer

I started Boadicea Brown when I was on maternity leave.  Like a lot of people I was in a demanding full time corporate job and really wanted to create a work environment that was more conducive to being a mother with two kids.  I think it is such a shame that many businesses are still intolerant of the demands applied to working mothers.  Job share and flexible hours are still unheard of in many industries across Australia. While I was working such long hours we had no family support, so the kids ended up in childcare which is a massive strain on any family’s finances.  I think the final straw was the constant guilt, I felt like no-one was getting the best of me. I couldn’t be the parent, employee or wife I really wanted to be. So I made a significant life change. I found a part-time job and started to work on Boadicea Brown whenever I had the chance through the week.  It is a constant juggling act, but far more rewarding and I feel like I am starting to get some traction and I get to do what I love.

Today Boadicea Brown is a very different business to the one I created at the beginning.  We are so much more than a jewellery e-commerce store. Certainly Boadicea is about treating yourself or someone you love but it has evolved.  Since my diagnosis I have been blogging and what I have found really interesting is the number of people who have shared their own story. Perhaps they know someone with breast cancer or they have been diagnosed themselves.  In many cases people have just shared their fears and challenges they are facing such as their mental health, childhood diseases and so much more. I do not have a medical degree and I am certainly not an expert, but I believe that people have trusted me because I opened the door to have a conversation.  I am not afraid to make myself vulnerable and share my inner most thoughts.

Read my Blog (http://www.boadiceabrown.com.au/blog/)

So what have I learnt in all this?

7 Top tips:

My view on the world has shifted significantly and I was always quite a positive person but now I find it easier to release the little stuff and am more at peace with who I am and what I can offer.  So here are my top tips for you:

1.Mindset is key

“The problem is not the problem but your attitude about the problem”.  Overcoming a major hurdle is mostly down to how you view it and how you process and deal with it.  If you can get your mind to support you onto a positive path then you are winning. So surround yourself with people who are going to help you do that, professional help, friends or family, whatever works.

2.Be kind to yourself

How are you supposed to be the person you want to be if you are constantly giving yourself a hard time?  Life can be tough sometimes so acknowledge that and do not berate yourself. Could’ve, should’ve, would’ve do not belong in your postcode!

3.Ask for help and accept help

We are awful at this, especially Mums.  For goodness sake, we are not a failure if we accept help from someone to help us with something!  We need to release the guilt here, today it is our turn, and tomorrow it will be someone else’s, so pay it forward.  I certainly don’t do someone a favour in return for another. I am sure that is the case for you too?

4.Stop comparing

My favourite quote is “Comparison is the thief of all Joy”.  Once you stop comparing to others then you immediately feel better about yourself.  Strive for topping your personal best, and celebrate that too!

5.Accept who you are

No one on the planet is perfect.  Accept that you have flaws, play to your strengths.  We all have a special power that is worth contributing.  Focus on what you can do, not what you can’t do!

6.Choose your tribe wisely

It is so important to surround yourself with people who bring out the best in you.  People will come and go and that’s OK but don’t be afraid to cleanse your life of toxic people, they will only hold you back.

7.Gratitude is your best friend

Things become sweeter and more palatable when you come from a place of gratitude.  Hand on heart, I can say that I am so grateful for what I have experienced. My life has changed for the better as a result,  I have made some big changes, faced the fear and for the first time I feel more at peace than ever.

If I am baring all, then I am giving you permission to share and lighten the burden of what you might be facing alone.  Together we could change the perception the world has on mental health.   And of course, check your bits. Go in for a regular MOT after all early detection could save your life. I would love to hear from you, leave a comment…after all, this is a conversation!

Victoria BrownWho am I?
I am a wife and mother to two very energetic small boys. I live in Sydney and have been here for 18 years. I grew up in the UK and came here as a backpacker, fell in love with Australia and never went back! My husband is Australian and we lead quite a typical Sydney life, catching up with friends, getting stuck in traffic and enjoying coffee from the local baristas. Through the week I wear many hats, from building my business Boadicea Brown (http://www.boadiceabrown.com.au/), working for another company part-time and trying to be a sane mum and wife!
Recently we celebrated my 40th birthday. Turning the big four-zero can be a watershed moment for many, but for me it was even more significant. There was a dark moment in our lives where we thought that I might not reach this milestone.