Introducing Danni Moore, known as @The_Boob_Battle, a dedicated mother of two who faced a life-changing battle when diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer in July 2021. Her journey through chemotherapy and a double mastectomy has transformed her into a resilient advocate, passionately dedicated to empowering and supporting women in similar journeys.
Danni has not only embraced her role as a survivor but has also become the face of our transformative campaign, #OneMorePage3. For years, Page 3 was notorious for objectifying women's bodies to cater to male desires, featuring topless women with ample breasts. This October, we're rewriting this narrative.
Breasts are more than just symbols of sensuality and self-identity; they can also be powerful sources of strength for those who've battled breast cancer or undergone mastectomies. Our campaign is all about celebrating the female form, normalizing it, and raising awareness about the enduring impact of breast cancer.
This is my breast cancer story, a journey that started back in 2020 when COVID-19 was in full swing and life was locked down. I’m Danni, 33 years young and I live in Bristol. Back in 2019, I gave birth to my youngest son Dexter and exclusively breastfed him as I had done with my first child, Betsy, a few years earlier.
Fast forward a year and I was still breastfeeding Dexter but I’d dropped his feeds slightly in preparation for stopping breastfeeding completely. It was around this time I noticed a lump in my chest wall. It was approximately the size of a blueberry, wasn’t causing me any pain but I started noticing it through my clothing and visually it bothered me. So I booked an appointment with my GP to get it checked out.
My initial appointment with the GP settled any worries I had about the lump. The doctor informed me it was more than likely a blocked milk duct from breastfeeding, or a benign cyst caused by my young age. He didn’t seem concerned either but made a referral to the Breast Clinic as a precautionary measure.
I got an appointment quickly with the Breast Clinic but during the week leading up to my appointment, I had come into contact with somebody who had COVID-19 (remember those NHS app alerts?!) so I had to ring the clinic to reschedule my appointment. Unfortunately, I was told that I’d need to go back to my GP and start the referral process all over again in order to rebook. I’ll admit that I put this job to the back of my ‘to-do list’. My lack of knowledge surrounding breast cancer and the fact my GP didn’t seem concerned initially meant I didn’t rebook my appointment with any urgency. I settled back to my busy life, being a Mummy to two young kids and working full time.
It was a few months later that I noticed the lump had grown quite significantly and was now looking like a bruise on my chest. So I set aside some time to make a phone call to my GP. I explained how the lump had progressed and informed them about the re-referral I needed to the Breast Clinic.
The appointment for the Breast Clinic came quickly as they had a cancellation, which I was grateful for because I wanted the ‘cyst’ removed quickly so I could get on with parenting and work. I attended the Bristol Breast Clinic in June 2020 and had a mammogram, an ultrasound, and biopsy. Now all I had to do was sit and wait a week for the results.
A normal week passes by quickly and having two children kept me busy. At no point did I think breast cancer, so I wasn’t that concerned over the week. The day of my appointment, I was going to go on my own but my mum insisted on driving me, which in hindsight I was grateful for. I was seen by a doctor and a nurse who gave me the unexpected news that I had breast cancer. The words rang like loud bells in my head and I instantly felt numb. They allowed me to call my mum and get her to meet me in the clinic, where we had what felt like a thousand questions to try and ask. The doctor explained that in order to identify the cancer and formulate a treatment plan I would need more tests and scans. So even though I had been given a cancer diagnosis, I still had no idea what this meant for me. I left the clinic, not really knowing what just went on, a very surreal experience. Was it curable? Would I see my kids grow up? What did this mean for my future? That night when I put Betsy and Dexter to bed, I sat for hours just watching them sleep. Tears ran down my face at the thought I may only get to do this a limited number of times.
The ball started rolling quickly after this point. I met the team who would be managing my care, then underwent more scans, and had several blood tests to identify the cancer. I was told I had Stage 3, HER2+ breast cancer that had spread to my lymph nodes. HER2 is a protein that promotes the growth of cancer cells, which in turn makes the cancer more aggressive and likely to spread. My treatment plan initially consisted of seven rounds of chemotherapy, followed by a mastectomy, then a further 15 rounds of radiotherapy and 18 rounds of hormone therapy.
The first round of chemotherapy was at the start of August, almost a month after my initial diagnosis on 01/07/21. I headed into the cancer clinic; alone, scared and feeling more vulnerable than ever. I felt sad it was happening, happy it had started, nervous about the hair loss approaching and anxious about doing all these hospital visits on my own. My worries soon eased as I realised I wasn’t alone in this journey. The clinic was filled with others, all at different stages of their own cancer journeys, who welcomed me with warm smiles into their ‘Exclusive Group’. They told me about their cancers, their milestones, their struggles, and gave me loads of tips for getting through treatment (like how sucking on sweets can help the headaches during chemo, who knew?!). We sat and chatted whilst medication was being pushed through our PICC lines and all of a sudden I felt less alone and more optimistic about the long road ahead.
Soon after chemo started, my hair began to fall out. I knew this day would come but nothing prepares you for the reality. The luscious, thick, dark brown hair I associated with a part of my identity began falling out anytime I touched my head. It was the harsh reminder that I was a cancer patient and it sucked. I wanted to be in control of my hair loss so even though I knew it would be difficult, I made the decision to brave the shave. It was really important to me that I salvaged as much healthy hair as possible so I could donate it to The Little Princess Trust (an amazing charity who makes wigs for children). I had some wonderful friends and family on the sidelines who cheered me on, whilst another friend took the clippers to my head. I lay my (very bald and cold) head on the pillow that night and sobbed. Reality had well and truly set in.
Things got a little easier after this. I guess when you’ve hit rock bottom, the only way is up so I settled into a routine of chemo treatments, hospital appointments, and blood tests which certainly kept me busy and my mind occupied. I was tired though and after a few rounds I could feel my body was struggling with the demands of chemotherapy. Unfortunately, because my body was so low in white blood cells I couldn’t fight off harmful bacteria and a few months into treatment I developed sepsis which meant a lengthy hospital stay and a change of treatment plan going forward.
The medical team made the decision to alter my chemotherapy as my tired body wasn’t able to recover quick enough in between rounds. As much as I appreciated the respite, it resulted in an extra six rounds of chemo meaning I had to have 13 rounds in total instead of the original planned seven.
Once chemotherapy had finished, we moved onto the mastectomy. As I only had cancer in one breast, it was the standard treatment to have a single mastectomy and remove the affected breast and surrounding tissue. However, due to my body shape and active lifestyle of being a dancer, a young mum and a beautician I was worried about having just one breast. Plus the reconstruction waiting time was 18-24 months and I didn’t want to prolong the cancer journey. I discussed this with my surgeon and care team, who eventually approved the double mastectomy. I was pleased to have had my voice heard and glad my decision was taken into consideration. However, I was informed that opting for the double mastectomy would mean I would not be eligible for an NHS reconstruction at a later date. Still, I knew it was what I wanted and it felt like the right option for me, so I opted to go ahead anyway. I underwent a double mastectomy, flat closure, and full lymph node clearance on 09.02.22. Even though it was initially sore, the operation was a breeze compared to chemotherapy. There were no serious complications and my scars healed really well.
Following surgery, I had weekly radiotherapy and hormone treatment and finished all active treatment on 22.04.22.
Treatment had finished but that didn’t mean my journey was over as I was now a ‘Cancer Survivor’, and this came with a whole load of new challenges. The double mastectomy has left me with nerve damage, painful spasms, and the insecurities of looking different to every other woman in society. I’ve had to do a lot of reflection and healing in order to accept my new body and to mentally recover from the strain of having breast cancer. However, I feel like I am now in a really positive place and have so much to look forward too.
Life isn’t ever going to be easy for me, but I am proud at how resilient I have grown to be. We are surrounded by social media showing us the ‘perfect’ body shape and its easy to compare, however I hope I am helping to break down some of these stereotypes and show that perfectly imperfect is okay too.
I started an Instagram blog @the_boob_batle to raise awareness of breast cancer and treatments and to share the highs and lows of my journey. I am so grateful to be alive, and out the other side, thankful to my friends and family for their support and amazed at my body for being strong enough to fight this awful disease. I get to live life to the absolute fullest and watch my children grow up, which is all I ever wanted at the start of this journey.
'Wash Me' is an adult film that offers an intimate portrait of a woman re-discovering her body and desire after breast cancer. Based on the director's own story, this is the first explicit film in history to raise awareness about sex with breast cancer.
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