How did you first find out you had cancer?
When I first found the lump in the breast, I dismissed the idea of it being anything that would be harmful. It might have been self-protection or outright denial, but at first I did not accept the possibility of it being cancer, as it would somehow make it more likely to be exactly that. Almost like a self-fulfilling prophecy. Nevertheless, I did go to my general practitioner to have it checked out.
She referred me to get a mammogram done. After the mammogram, the specialist told me that the result was suspicious for breast cancer. To be certain, a core biopsy of the lump, where they take some tissue for analysis, had to be done. This confirmed it. I had breast cancer.
How did you react when you heard the news?
All of this I experienced as a bad dream that I just could not seem to wake up out of. It is unreal. I felt like someone had just pulled the world from under my feet. There was total disbelief. A myriad of emotions took over–fear and anger being the most prominent. I could not believe this was happening to me and my family. Then I pulled myself together and got into fighting mode. I was on a mission. Time to fight cancer!
What course of treatment were you prescribed?
First, I had a lumpectomy and then I had an emergency mastectomy as the cancer had already spread throughout my breast. After that I had TAC chemotherapy for six cycles (every three weeks). A month after that, I had six weeks of radiotherapy every day.
What most surprised you about your treatment?
That you can still enjoy your life, even during heavy treatment. There were many difficult moments, but at least as many happy moments. Also, the kindness people can show you when you are in a difficult situation truly amazed me, for which I am very grateful.
What would your advice be to anyone who’s just received a cancer diagnosis?
For me, I would have liked to have been able to see what a breast cancer journey would be like. I am a professional photographer so I am a very visual person. However, I could not find anywhere what it would look like to have breast cancer. That is the reason why I started to capture my journey on camera and put this together in an eBook. I hope this book will inspire and inform others who are about to embark on the same journey. Furthermore, I would advise anyone to try to keep a normal routine as much as possible. Do not let the cancer take your life, but also do not let it take over your life.
How long have you been cancer free?
I am in remission since last week.
What lessons did you learn from the experience?
I realize that there are no guarantees in life. So, rather than living in fear of the unknown, I live life in the known, which is that life is awesome.
If you could send one message to all the Good Enough Mothers out there – what would it be?
The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts. –Marcus Aurelius
My name is Kiki van de Laar and I am a mother of two young children, Mick (3) and Tatum (1). I have been married to my husband Rogier since 2007. Originally from the cold, flat marshes of the Netherlands, I am happy to call South Australia my home since 2009.
After many years of pursuing photography as a serious hobby to capturing treasured memories of friends and family, I could not withstand the encouragement any longer to “finally start doing something” with my photography skills as a profession. In 2012, I started my own business as a photographer in Adelaide: Kiki’s Photography.
In early 2013, my family and I embarked on a breast cancer journey that I have captured through my lens.