Paige More was 22 when she found out that she was genetically pre-disposed to breast cancer. Two female family members had died of cancer previously, and she knew that the threat was real. In a recent interview for Elle, she described her decision to have a double mastectomy instead of living in perpetual fear of getting cancer: ‘All my options sounded terrible. I could go into an intense surveillance programme and get regular check-ups, mammograms, and blood work: a future that involved endless visits to the doctor. It sounded less like “surveillance” and more like just waiting around to get cancer.’ She said the decision to have the surgery felt empowering – like she had taken control of her own life.
Her initial post on Facebook announcing her surgery garnered an overwhelming amount of support, so Paige decided to document her journey publicly on Instagram to provide support to others going through the same thing. The surgery took place in early January. She chronicled the journey with total openness, including pictures of the invasive operations.
The surgery is complicated and takes place in stages. First the doctors remove the breast tissue and insert expanders that are placeholders for the implants, which will eventually go in in a separate surgery.
Paige’s posts are mostly frank and encouraging, no matter how frightening the subject matter. One of the more gory aspects of a mastectomy is the drain bags. They remain attached to the body via tubes to remove blood and fluid from the wounds. Paige shared images of hers being taken out, helping her followers reduce the fear of the unknown.
I wanted to post this picture of my drains being removed because so many of you have said you are nervous for your drains to be taken out! You’re not alone, I was so scared! And I know this picture is intense and looks kinda scary, but trust me there is nothing to worry about! It goes so quickly! It didn’t hurt me at all, it was just the weirdest feeling in the world. They literally just pull them right out of you. Its hard to explain it but they do it so quickly that they literally just slide right out. Like I said, the weirdest feeling in the world. It’s such an amazing thing to look forward to! You’ll be so happy!! The second they came out, I felt like a new person. I was physically so much more comfortable and I felt so free. Without the drains I was immediately less restricted and I could move a little bit better than I had been able to since my surgery. I never expected to feel joy and happiness only a short week after having my double mastectomy but I did. I want to hear about how you feel/felt about getting your dreaded drains removed… all I have to say is sayonara suckers!!
Although her posts are typically encouraging and positive, there were many moments of fear and sadness. Paige shared these too.
Sometimes the hardest part of recovering is when you’re having the best day and you feel “normal” and then you get off the couch and you feel pain, discomfort and extreme tightness. It makes you wonder, why!? I just had an amazing day! I’m so happy! Now I’m in pain and crying? The highs and lows are rough but the lows really do help make the highs feel that much better. In the end, I’m thankful for both. I wouldn’t trade the highs for even the lowest of lows
Her authenticity has helped her connect to others. She has 3 600 followers on the paige_previvor account, many of whom she is in contact with via text and phone, giving and receiving support and advice.
And some of Paige’s images are smokin’ hot. ‘The thing that has surprised me most is how sexy I feel. My decision to take action made me feel incredibly powerful and strong – and that’s so sexy to me. When I look at my scars, I think they’re pretty badass. I grabbed control of my life. I went from being a worrier to a warrior,’ she said in the interview.
There is no better feeling in the world then when you start to feel your body recovering and getting stronger. It took me about two weeks after my surgery. For me it means I am no longer confined to my couch or bed. It means I can get up and walk around and explore. It’s an amazing feeling when you start to feel yourself getting better. I still have to take it slowly, it’s so easy to overdo it which causes extreme pain and exhaustion. I’ve found that it’s best to pick one activity and then relax and heal for the rest of the day. So when my sister told me she knew of a bright pink wall up in Los Angeles I knew I had to make the trek out to see it. This was the activity I chose for the day and though it took a lot out of me, it was beyond worth it. The feeling I had when I saw this wall was overwhelming. The color pink has always been one of my favorites but joining the BRCA sisterhood it represents so much more to me now. Standing in front of this wall I felt strong. I felt powerful. I felt beautiful and feminine. I felt healthy and happy. I felt bright pink. But most importantly I felt thankful that I no longer have to worry about getting breast cancer! What an amazing feeling!
She is actively involved in the pre-vivor / survivor community, and walked in the NYFW as part of a show called Exposed – pretty amazing for someone who had serious surgery less than two months ago!
Tonight I walked for my Previvors! My BRCA sisters. You are strong. You are beautiful. You are not alone. You don’t have to be scared. You can do this! We are in this together. I love you all and I am so thankful to have this amazing community of breast friends. Together we can do amazing things. Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought that I would be able to walk in NYFW only five weeks after my preventative double mastectomy. This is just the beginning!