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Camilla Franks: 'Breast Cancer Robbed Me Of Things I Will Never Know Again'

In a letter to her younger self, cancer survivor Camilla Franks imagines it is the year 2030 -- a time by which the National Breast Cancer Foundation has set a goal to eliminate breast cancer deaths.

Camilla Franks is the owner and creative director of Australian fashion label CAMILLA. In 2018, she was diagnosed with stage three breast cancer -- a disease that claims the lives of eight Australian women every single day.

Camilla's diagnosis came only three months after she gave birth to her daughter, Luna. The designer had chemotherapy, a double mastectomy and breast reconstruction.

Now, two years after her diagnosis, the 43-year-old is in remission and on the road to recovery.

Today, the National Breast Cancer Foundation have announced that a world without breast cancer deaths is achievable by 2030. But only if $100 million is invested into research over the coming decade.

To honour this ambition, Camilla Franks has penned a letter from her 2030 self, to the woman she was the day she was told she had breast cancer.

You can read her letter in full below. 

Dear Milla,

Today you are 12 years post breast cancer.

Twelve years since you sat in that doctor’s office and felt the world around you come crashing down.

Twelve years since you faced an uncertain part of my daughter and partner’s future.

Twelve years since you shaved away my identity.

Twelve years since you felt the raw grip of chemo and the terror of the unknown.

Twelve years since your life walked a new path.

Twelve years since you took back control of something beyond your own power.

Twelve years since you survived.

I write to you as a woman who is proud, loved, relieved, grateful -- but above all, alive.

Today marks the year 2030. Over the last 10 years the National Breast Cancer Foundation has invested in emerging areas of research to eliminate breast cancer deaths. It is now a world without breast cancer. A world without women’s suffering. A world without loss and sadness. A world in which our mothers, daughters, sisters and girlfriends live without fear.

Twelve years ago, you were diagnosed with a rare form of breast cancer, and after six months of what your doctors called the “bazooka” of intense chemotherapy, you braved a double mastectomy and reconstruction. Your girls, who served you so fabulously, were laid to rest. Your new twins, Margarita and Tressara, took on the new front. And baby, haven’t they bloomed ever so gloriously… they even made national TV.

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While humour was always your strongest bedside manner, it was an unspeakably difficult and trying time both mentally and physically -- the storm wasn’t over just yet and this next chapter would be the most painful.

Your greatest role yet was the simple title of “Mum”. You earned this name in 2018 when Luna Gypsy Jones joined you earth side, just three months before you were diagnosed with BRCA1… It was short-lived bliss, so brutally ripped away with no warning or explanation.

You took on a new title of Mum Fighting Breast Cancer. As a result of the BRCA1, this also meant the big O came into play. Not that one; your ovaries. Yep, they would need to go too. A big full stop. You were robbed of things, you will never know again… ⁠F**k you, cancer.

You’ve always been a shining poster child of learning things the hard way, and cancer was no different. In 2018 upon your diagnosis, you cried endless tears of fear, despair, confusion and helplessness. Weeks passed after your diagnosis, a dark and confusing blur came before you until you became confident in a treatment plan. Never ending doctor and specialist appointments, you dug so deep for answers whilst navigating fear and terror. Cancer became a full-time job.

You sought answers, opinions and advice and more often than not -- each opinion conflicted with the last. You knew that in stillness you would find the answers right for this body and together, with your medical team you drew up the battle lines and launched heavy artillery of science and medicine to save your body, your temple. ⁠You took back control. You became the CEO of your body. And baby, you’re here to tell the story.

Back in 2020, we still lost eight women to breast cancer every day. That was eight too many. You now stand proudly alongside sisters who fearlessly entered the same battlefield you did – and for the sisters who joined other universes in the process; our heart is with you always.

If our journey has taught us anything, it is that there is reward in relentless tenacity and never saying never. You’ve found a fountain of empowerment of sharing your story and encouraging anyone who will listen to never settle on first guidance. With every fibre of my being, I write this letter with the knowledge that we’ve reached zero deaths from breast cancer. No victims, no deaths -- just no breast cancer at all.

That’s my kind of world, and it means the world for me to be here.

Love Milla x

Featured image: Camilla With Love Instagram