A Fashionista in the Fight of her Life
- Fashion icon Camilla Franks was diagnosed with breast cancer three months after giving birth to her daughter in 2018.
- Since then, she’s had her breasts, fallopian tubes and now her ovaries removed for her breast cancer treatment and future cancer prevention.
- Unfortunately, Franks has come to the conclusion that she will no longer be able to have another biological child, but there are options for people struggling with fertility after cancer treatments.
Franks’ line, CAMILLA, specializes in luxurious resort and occasion wear. With vibrant colors and eye-catching designs, Franks’ clothing has caught the attention of many a celebrity including Beyonce, Oprah, Kate Hudson and Georgia May Jagger. Her life is a fashionista’s fantasy, but she’s also been dealt a very tough hand when it comes to health.
Camilla’s Cancer JourneyRead More
From there, her journey switched to a path of cancer prevention because doctors discovered Franks had a harmful BRCA2 gene (BReast CAncer gene 2) variant. BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes produce proteins that help repair damaged DNA.
“BRCA1 and BRCA2 are sometimes called tumor suppressor genes because when they have certain changes, called harmful (or pathogenic) variants (or mutations), cancer can develop,” according to the National Cancer Institute.
“Not only did I have to fight the breast cancer I had,” Franks wrote on Instagram. “I also had to prevent the future cancers I was so much more likely to get – more breast cancer, ovarian cancer, fallopian tube cancer, and others.”
Her list of cancer-related surgeries is long. She had a double mastectomy to remove her breasts and later had to remove her fallopian tubes. Her recent, and most heartbreaking, surgery was the removal of her ovaries.
“But now, this. The divine essence of my womanhood,” Franks wrote. “My ovaries, the most sacred givers of life, being taken from me, leaves the biggest hole of all.”
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Franks has accepted the fact that she will never carry another baby after the removal of her ovaries. Over the past 18 months, she has been trying to become a mother again – but with no luck.
“I kept putting this final lifesaving surgery off in the hope that I could pull off a miracle,” Franks said. “But five unsuccessful rounds of IVF [In vitro fertilization] later, with all the hope and disappointment they brought, has delivered me to this point.”
Franks really wanted to carry another baby and always looked forward to creating a large biological family. But she’s coming to terms with her new reality.
“I wanted to have a brood of bubbas,” Franks wrote. “And now must accept that I will have one biological child.”
Franks has been very honest about the “excruciating” grief she has felt throughout her cancer journey. With Mother’s Day just around the corner, she made sure to address other people who may be feeling the same or find the holiday to be painful.
“My heart aches for all those who never get to fulfill their dream of motherhood at all,” Franks wrote. “I am beyond grateful that I have my beautiful little girl Luna. I am blessed to have experienced motherhood. But as for so many other mothers and would-be mothers, breast cancer has cruelly decided our future.”
Franks is “more determined than ever” to find a cure for breast cancer, and she has already taken steps to be a part of the solution. She encourages her followers to do the same and continue to support each other when breast cancer affects their own friends and family.
“I am a proud ambassador for the National Breast Cancer Foundation @nbcfaus because they fund research into the most diagnosed cancer in Australia – afflicting 1 in 7 women,” Franks wrote. “Over 20,000 Australians will be diagnosed this year alone. Program after program funded by the National Breast Cancer Foundation improves the odds and changes the future. They are 100% community funded and without us their projects would be compromised. Please donate what you can to a mighty cause.”
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Her Ultimate Advice: Get Checked
A part of the reason Franks is so open about her cancer journey is because she doesn’t want others to have to go through the same painful process, and she knows breast cancer screenings are the main way to prevent the disease.
“Please get checked,” Camilla wrote in another post. “It could save your life.”
Mammograms screen for breast cancer by looking for signs of cancer and lumps in the breast tissue. Dr. Connie Lehman, the chief of the breast imaging division at Massachusetts General Hospital, explains in a previous interview for SurvivorNet that if you haven’t been through menopause yet, you should get a mammogram every year.
“We know that cancers grow more rapidly in our younger patients, and having that annual mammogram can be lifesaving,” Dr. Lehman says. “After menopause, it may be perfectly acceptable to reduce that frequency to every two years. But what I’m most concerned about is the women who haven’t been in for a mammogram for two, three or four years, those women that have never had a mammogram. We all agree regular screening mammography saves lives.”
Fertility and Cancer Treatments
Infertility can be a side effect of some cancer treatments. Unfortunately, Franks has come to the conclusion that she will no longer be able to have another biological child, but there are options for people struggling with fertility after cancer treatments. Fertility preservation, for example, is available to women of childbearing age. The most commonly used practices are egg and embryo freezing, but other options are also available.
No matter what course of action you choose to take, it is important that all women of childbearing age feel comfortable discussing their options prior to cancer treatment.
In a previous conversation with SurvivorNet, Dr. Jaime Knopman, a reproductive endocrinologist at CCRM NY, said that time is precious when dealing with fertility preservation for women with cancer. In other words, the sooner the better when it comes to having these important fertility conversations with your doctor.
“The sooner we start, the sooner that patient can then go on and do their treatment,” Dr. Knopman said. “A lot of the success comes down to how old you are at the time you froze and the quality of the lab in which your eggs or embryos are frozen in.”
“Oftentimes, we just do what we call a ‘fast start.’ We start them no matter where they are in their menstrual cycle. Because of that, it can sometimes take a bit longer than it would for traditional IVF stimulation. But all in, you’re never really talking about more than two weeks.”