News, Culture & Society

Mother diagnosed with breast cancer just 18 HOURS after giving birth

Farrah Millar was relishing in the joy of being a mother for the second time for just 18 hours before she was given the heart-wrenching news that she had stage three breast cancer in early 2016.

Her miracle baby boy Rhylan had been a surprise as she had endured four years of IVF before being blessed with her first born Lehnae, who was just 14 months old when she was diagnosed.

The Perth-based mum first shared her heart-wrenching story with FEMAIL when she was diagnosed and since, she has won Mother of the Year, formed a strong support base and community online dubbed “Farrah’s Army” and thankfully, been told she is ‘cancer-free’.

Farrah, 39, feels lucky to have been able to make it through such a challenging period but her life will never be the same.

Farrah Millar was relishing in the joy of being a mother for the second time for just 18 hours before she was given the news that she had stage three breast cancer in early 2016

'This was me with cancer, and pregnant. I didn't even know at the time that one week from this date my whole world was about to change,' she said of this photo 

‘This was me with cancer, and pregnant. I didn’t even know at the time that one week from this date my whole world was about to change,’ she said of this photo 

Here, Farrah reveals what life is like after a cancer diagnosis, why the definition of ‘cancer-free’ is different for everyone and what all women should know if faced with a similar battle.

‘I’m a year into the immunotherapy I’ll be required to have for the next five to 10 years. I commenced in January 2017 on a daily regime of tablets with an additional injection of a slow release implant each month,’ Farrah told FEMAIL.

‘Unfortunately, I had a reaction to the first combination where my body began to reject potassium, protein, salt and magnesium. I found myself in the emergency room every few weeks requiring potassium infusions as for it to drop below 3.0 which is quite life threatening and I couldn’t get mine up over 2.4.

‘It was very inconvenient and frustrating and I was unwell off and on for months. In addition, it was difficult on my family who kept having to look after the children unexpectedly and often for days at a time. 

Her miracle baby boy Rhylan had been a surprise as she had endured four years of IVF before being blessed with her first born Lehnae, who was just 14 months old when she was diagnosed

Her miracle baby boy Rhylan had been a surprise as she had endured four years of IVF before being blessed with her first born Lehnae, who was just 14 months old when she was diagnosed

Farrah (left) is pictured shortly after being named Mother of the Year in 2016

Farrah (left) is pictured shortly after being named Mother of the Year in 2016

‘I have now started taking a different drug which is not as powerful as the previous combination of drugs, but does have horrendous side effects such as constant hot flushes, anxiety, nightmares, migraines, stiff joints and aching.’

 It threw everything into chaos. I wasn’t just rebuilding my health, I was rebuilding my entire self.

Farrah, who has had a double mastectomy, has also just had her third breast surgery and says there will be more surgeries required to cosmetically enhance her chest.

‘I am also meeting with a surgeon in the coming weeks to discuss removing my ovaries and there has also been talk of removing my uterus,’ she added – each of the surgeries suggested to improve her recovery.

Since October, 2016, Farrah has been admitted to hospital 15 times and had six operations.

In February, Farrah had a series of powerful professional photos of herself taken before her third breast surgery

In February, Farrah had a series of powerful professional photos of herself taken before her third breast surgery

Since October, 2016, Farrah has been admitted to hospital 15 times and had six operations

Since October, 2016, Farrah has been admitted to hospital 15 times and had six operations

‘I’ve had my double mastectomy, a reconstruction attempt, removal of one tissue expander, then a reparation of an open wound which resulted from that,’ Farrah said.

‘I then had the removal of the other expander, then reinsertion of new expanders, then a swap from the second set of expanders to a pair of implants,’ Farrah said.

Despite all of this, Farrah said the only thing she wished she knew going into her first ever treatment was that she needed to have more faith in herself.

‘I wish I’d had more faith that I would be able to get through the hard days. To confront one’s own mortality is very upsetting and sometimes traumatising to the spirit and mental health,’ she said.

'I've had my double mastectomy, a reconstruction attempt, removal of one tissue expander, then a reparation of an open wound which resulted from that,' Farrah said

‘I’ve had my double mastectomy, a reconstruction attempt, removal of one tissue expander, then a reparation of an open wound which resulted from that,’ Farrah said

Despite all of this, Farrah said the only thing she wished she knew going into her first ever treatment was that she needed to have more faith in herself

Despite all of this, Farrah said the only thing she wished she knew going into her first ever treatment was that she needed to have more faith in herself

‘At times the fear of what might and could lie ahead was paralysing. Additionally I just assumed that those close to me would encircle me and take care of me – but a lot of the time it was people at a distance who stepped up and orchestrated all the care.

‘I always assumed cancer would bring people closer – and it does in many ways, but for me it threw everything into chaos. I wasn’t just rebuilding my health, I was rebuilding my entire self and the life I wanted to live.’

Farrah said the most difficult part of going through cancer with two toddlers was simply not having enough time to rest.

‘I was always run off my feet – which in a way was good because caring for them took my mind away from my worries and stopped me feeling sorry for myself or getting caught up in how unwell I was feeling,’ Farrah said.

'I wish I'd had more faith that I would be able to get through the hard days. To confront one's own mortality is very upsetting and sometimes traumatising to the spirit,' she said

'I wish I'd had more faith that I would be able to get through the hard days. To confront one's own mortality is very upsetting and sometimes traumatising to the spirit,' she said

‘I wish I’d had more faith that I would be able to get through the hard days. To confront one’s own mortality is very upsetting and sometimes traumatising to the spirit,’ she said 

‘They gave me something to fight for and a reason to push on in the tougher times. I want to be here for them and I’ll do anything I have to and endure anything I need to, to make that happen.

 My body doesn’t behave the way it used to. I can’t trust myself or any of the feelings I have.

‘I want to give my children an example of self love, self belief, strength, optimism and wellness. I want them to learn what family truly is.’

Farrah said she had absolutely no idea of the complications that could be faced following a cancer diagnosis.

‘I assumed everything would go exactly as the surgeons and doctors planned. I didn’t really know anyone who had survived a cancer diagnosis and everyone I had known to be diagnosed had been well into their senior years.’ Farrah said.

‘I didn’t know anything about breast cancer and I had no idea just how great the impact could be on the body and the mind and on life I general.

'At times the fear of what might and could lie ahead was paralysing. Additionally I just assumed that those close to me would encircle me and take care of me,' Farrah said 

‘At times the fear of what might and could lie ahead was paralysing. Additionally I just assumed that those close to me would encircle me and take care of me,’ Farrah said 

‘I did not comprehend the length and complexity of treatment types, the number of surgery options or even the types of cancer.

‘I was in a support group recently where one lady was saying she was tired of waiting for life to get back to normal and it occurred to me that maybe this was the new normal and life was never ever going to be what it was, because I’m not who I was. ‘

Farrah said cancer changes everything – in her case some things for worse and some for the better.

‘The gravity of the change can’t really be understood until you look back and see it all from a distance,’ she said.

Farrah said despite it all, the biggest challenge has been not being fit enough to manage things as well as she would have liked.

'I want to give my children an example of self love, self belief, strength, optimism and wellness. I want them to learn what family truly is,' Farrah said 

‘I want to give my children an example of self love, self belief, strength, optimism and wellness. I want them to learn what family truly is,’ Farrah said 

‘I have an expectation of who I am, what I want to achieve and what I feel I need to do to be a good mum, good daughter and good sister.’

‘My body doesn’t behave the way it used to. I can’t trust myself or any of the feelings I have. If my leg is sore or I have a pain in my abdomen, I never know if it’s because I walked too far the day before, if it’s a side effect of my medication or if I could (God forbid) have a tumour.

‘Getting to know and trust my new body and its changed configuration – the sliced and re-stitched muscles, the removed bits and enduring scars – it has completely challenged my view on beauty and especially what it means to be a woman.’

Farrah said what ‘feminine’ means has changed significantly for her.

Farrah said despite it all, the biggest challenge has been not being fit enough to manage things as well as she would have liked to

Farrah said despite it all, the biggest challenge has been not being fit enough to manage things as well as she would have liked to

‘What makes me feminine? Was it my long blonde hair, big bust, feminine hourglass figure?’ She said.

‘Instead now my hair is cropped and haggard, my body is disfigured and has morphed into a shape of which I don’t yet approve. ‘

The inspiring mum said having a following online over the years has really helped her.

‘In the beginning I found writing cathartic. It gave me a chance to really delve into myself and explore my feelings and reactions and helped to put them all on paper,’ she said.

‘I was desperate to have a voice above the cancer and I quickly gathered over 1,000 followers thanks to having my story shared.

‘I was spurred forward by their messages of support and encouragement, their kind and generous gifts and deliveries of meals for the freezer. ‘

'In the beginning I found writing cathartic. It gave me a chance to really delve into myself and explore my feelings and reactions and helped to put them all on paper,' she said

‘In the beginning I found writing cathartic. It gave me a chance to really delve into myself and explore my feelings and reactions and helped to put them all on paper,’ she said

Farrah went through a period of time where she experienced some personal challenges and took herself offline.

 I often hear the phrase “You’re so strong” but I’m just doing what I have to do to survive and get by.

‘I look back now and think it was the worst thing I could have done; I disconnected myself from all those that were making an effort to support and understand me,’ she said.

Farrah said she started her group because she struggled to find a place where she could unleash all of her feelings and emotions with others who understood.

‘I was confused and scared and I felt so alone and I found it hard to find any examples of blogs by other young women – particularly new mothers – who had been diagnosed,’ she said, adding that some relationships with people in her life also ‘crumbled’ as a result of her diagnosis.

‘People dropped away.’

'I was confused and scared and I felt so alone and I found it hard to find any examples of blogs by other young women – particularly new mothers – who had been diagnosed,' she said

‘I was confused and scared and I felt so alone and I found it hard to find any examples of blogs by other young women – particularly new mothers – who had been diagnosed,’ she said

Despite this, Farrah has been positive about this side of her cancer diagnosis and has moved on with optimism and strength.

That said, remaining positive isn’t always as easy as it looks.

‘I often hear the phrase ‘You’re so strong’ but I’m just doing what I have to do to survive and get by,’ she said.

‘If it was anyone else, they would do the same. To look at me and my current life and what I’ve been through as a whole, yes that is quite confronting and quite daunting, but that’s the picture they see overall.

‘For me it happened slowly. I busied myself with getting through the minutes one at a time and this helped pass the days and that helped pass the weeks which in turn helped pass the months.

'I busied myself with getting through the minutes one at a time and this helped pass the days and that helped pass the weeks,' Farrah said 

‘I busied myself with getting through the minutes one at a time and this helped pass the days and that helped pass the weeks,’ Farrah said 

Everytime I had to go through something unpleasant, I would remind myself why I was doing it and who I was doing it for (the children), which made it all the more bearable.’

In February, Farrah had a series of powerful professional photos of herself taken before her third breast surgery.

‘I wanted a reminder of where I was at and what I went through to get to “the end” whatever that is/means,’ Farrah said.  

In May, Farrah will travel to China where she will trek to raise money for the National Breast Cancer Foundation. 

‘So far I’ve raised almost $4,000 but I want to raise $5,000 if I can,’ she said.  

In May, Farrah will travel to China where she will trek to raise money for the National Breast Cancer Foundation

In May, Farrah will travel to China where she will trek to raise money for the National Breast Cancer Foundation

‘The “Cancer Train” took me on an amazing adventure, full of twists and turns, peaks and troughs. The times I was elated and lit from within far outweighed the moments of unbearable pain.  

‘Having cancer closed a few doors in my life, but it wasn’t just the windows that opened – the ceiling lifted and I saw a sky so blue with limitless possibilities and I plan to explore as many as possible.

‘That’s why I’m going to get my Butt and Boobicles to China! To raise more awareness of the importance of early detection, as well as some much needed funds for NBCF to help them reach their “Zero Deaths By 2030” goal. 

‘I’m going to challenge myself beyond the realm of whatever this new “normal” is.’

If you wish to support Farrah in her goal, search ‘Farrah’ on the National Breast Cancer Foundation Steps Towards Research Great Wall Trek 2018 page, here. 



Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


Comments are closed.