Blogger and breast cancer survivor, Nalie Agustin, is sharing her story to give hope to women worldwide who have been diagnosed with breast cancer. Read on to check out her BTR wardrobe makeover, as well as in-depth Q&A about her personal struggle with breast cancer and how she became a survivor.
We kept Nalie’s hair sleek and her makeup simple to highlight her radiant complexion.
Q. How did you feel when you first found out you had breast cancer?
A. At 24 years old, I was in disbelief! I was young and healthy, with no history of cancer in my family. I felt absolutely lost and confused when I was called in for ultrasounds, mammograms and biopsies. But the moment my oncologist said it was official, survival mode kicked in and I was ready to do whatever it took to beat this.
Q. What kind of obstacles did you encounter over the course of your treatment? And how did you overcome these obstacles?
A. Breast cancer treatments change your body completely. I went from being that fit girl with long black hair to becoming completely bald with a bloated body. It was difficult to look at my reflection in the mirror and not see me, but at the same time, it forced me to find my inner beauty and love myself for who I am and what I’ve accomplished beyond just my looks. The main obstacle was becoming physically weak, but I overcame it by setting goals and achieving them, like running 5K during chemotherapy in 34 minutes and raising $30,000 for the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation in 2013. I learned to turn my weaknesses into strengths.
We chose a bright pink dress to highlight a great cause and add a pop of color, as well as a statement necklace for a pretty, polished touch.
Q. What would you say is your biggest support system?
A. #TeamNalie – my large group of friends and family who supported me through the entire process. But especially my boyfriend Vee, who could have easily walked away at this point of our relationship; he chose to not only stay, but go the extra mile and take me to every single appointment and treatment. Even when I was bald, without eyelashes or eyebrows he never failed to make me feel beautiful.
Q. How did you maintain a positive and hopeful attitude during the worst moments of your treatment?
A. I blogged! Writing and recording videos allowed me to release my thoughts and emotions, whether they were negative or positive. It was my way of living in the moment and letting it all out. Authentically sharing my story gave thousands of other young women fighting breast cancer something they could relate to. Realizing that I was helping and inspiring others with my cancer was my motivation during the worst moments.
We finished the look with a delicate pair of black pumps as well as a fierce leather jacket to give Nalie the boss look of a woman who can handle any crisis – including cancer – with strength and grace.
Q. How has your body image changed since beating cancer?
A. As previously mentioned, my body image drastically changed due to treatment and only 2 years later am I starting to see real change! My left breast is reconstructed. Still nipple-less with a scar, but perkier than ever, haha! My hair is growing back nicely and I’ve lost a bit of the chemo weight. But despite the body image changes, I think what has changed the most is my perspective. I have developed an utmost respect for my body. I am no longer ashamed of it, because I am proud and in awe of its ability to heal.
Q. What message would you like to provide women in the community?
A. For one, with my social media campaign #Feelitonthefirst. I made it my mission to remind women to regularly self-examine their breasts on the 1st of every month, in order to catch any potential problems as soon as possible.
My biggest mistake was finding the lumps, and not thinking it was anything serious. I procrastinated and waited a full year before getting checked. Because I waited so long, my tumors grew and spread to my lymph nodes. Hence why I required 16 rounds of chemotherapy, a full mastectomy and 29 rounds of radiation. Had I waited any longer, who knows if I’d still be here today…
I want to empower women to take control of their lives by shamelessly getting to know their bodies! Should they ever find something abnormal, it’s up to them to get checked right away! For my kind of breast cancer, early detection is key to survival.
Lastly, I just want women to remember that life is not defined by what happens to you, but more by how you react to it! Don’t let anything that happens out of your control, control you! Your attitude is everything.
You can check out Nalie’s blog here, and shop to support on our site today – all events marked with a pink ribbon will offer 10% of proceeds to breast cancer research through the Québec Breast Cancer Foundation. Now that’s something to feel great about!