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Getting Up After You Fall

My name is Elle Veitch. I’m 30 years young and I live in gorgeous Australia and my IG is

@breastiesforlife, which I started in 2020 as a way to share my own cancer story and connect with, as well as support, any other people in the cancer community to find their voice and confidence to be empowered enough to share their own stories.

I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2019 when I was 27. Between my lumpectomy and double mastectomy I had almost 11cm of cancer removed from my left breast. Since then I have undergone four reconstructive surgeries as well as another surgery in October 2021 to remove my nipples when early cancer growth was discovered on my non-cancer side in the milk ducts that were carelessly left behind during my double mastectomy. I am a passionate writer, advocate, artist and I love doing everything I can to support my fellow breasties and friends in the cancer community. She is also one of our 2022 Maureen Clarke Grant recipients.

It was June 2020 and after a botched implant exchange surgery following my double mastectomy in December 2019, I was preparing for a complete revision of my reconstruction with my hot new surgeon (both in skills and physical appearance).

The plan was to take out the implants, replace them with new implants, and do fat grafting to fill out any areas that needed that extra oomph. A bit of "pizzazz" you might say. I would be having fat grafting from my stomach, legs, and "mons pubis" or as I would delicately put it, my "fat vagina."

Everything went well with surgery and I was well and truly bruised and battered (you should have seen the other guy) but I was glad it was over and after a week in the hospital and some accidental sleep farts that both woke me from my medicated slumber and startled the nurse who walked in right when I let one rip. I was ready to go home.

Mum and I arrived home and after a well-needed snooze, it was time for my first shower at home. Anyone who has had any type of cancer-related surgery that requires minimal showering for a period of time before that "sweet, sweet at home, wash your hair, put soap all over your body, and imagine you’re a dolphin in the wide-open ocean" shower will know exactly what I mean when I say - it just hits differently. It’s like being born again.

Mum had very proudly set up the shower to meet my safety requirements with a non-slip mat for both in and out of the shower as well as a shower chair (aka the chair from the backyard that we use for BBQs) for me to sit on while I had a scrub-a-dub. I still needed help with washing myself as I was pretty limited in movement and couldn’t lift my arms up to wash my hair.

Mum kindly took over the hair washing process while I sudsed up my upper half. I was feeling better already and took a moment to enjoy the water running down my back. This enjoyment was short-lived as was the chair that was the only thing between my ass and the shower floor. I thought I had heard a crack but I didn’t let it worry me too much because, honestly, what were the chances of a chair actually collapsing underneath me? Turns out the answer to that question is high. The chances were very, very high.

Mum was happily washing away at my hair before stepping out of the shower for a brief moment to grab some towels. Somewhere in between her stepping out of the shower and me literally not doing anything (except pretending I was a dolphin in the wide-open ocean) the "shower-chair" didn’t only collapse, it completely cracked in half leaving my crack landing forcibly on the shower floor.

I didn’t know what had just happened but what I did know was my first instinct was to laugh - this was until I saw the look on my mum's face. After checking for any injuries and realising everything was fine, I maneuvered my body, like a chick emerging from an egg, and released myself from the shackles of the BBQ chair before mum and I burst into laughter.

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