When Paige More discovered she was genetically predisposed to breast cancer, she decided to opt for a preventative mastectomy. She was only 22 at the time and the prospect of having her breasts removed at such a young age was a terrifying one, but, in the end, the thought of living with the anxiety and fear that waiting for a cancer diagnosis seemed worse. With the support of her boyfriend and family More became a “previvor” — a pre-survivor. In an interview with Abigail Pesta for Elle she explained, “I would take control and kill the chance of getting cancer before cancer could try to kill me.”
A typically private person used to working “behind the scenes” as a producer for Good Morning America, More was initially reluctant to post anything on social media about the planned operation. That was until her boyfriend asked if he could post a picture of them together on New Year’s Eve to say how proud he was of her decision. Touched and encouraged by the gesture, she took to Facebook first to tell everyone about the diagnosis and her forthcoming operation. The overwhelming level of support and the words of encouragement More’s post quickly received showed her the power in sharing her story publicly and prompted her to continue documenting her surgery and recovery on social media.
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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!! 🎉💕
More’s Instagram account now has more than 3,500 followers and shows a series of photographs depicting the different stages of her recovery — from the initial post-op scars to her painfully raising her hands above her head a few days later and, most recently, to her posing at New York Fashion Week where she walked the catwalk alongside other survivors and “previvors” in a show called Exposed, sponsored by the charity #Cancerland and Ana Ono Intimates.
The images are all accompanied by encouraging messages and explainers breaking down what each part of the recovery process entails and how it feels, which has helped More build a community of support for other women going through a similar process. She is now in frequent contact with many of them women who have come to her through the Instagram page seeking advice and guidance. She also posts gentle reminders to her followers of the importance of having their breasts checked regularly.
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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! 💕
Read the full interview at Elle.