Hi, I'm Jo. I'm a beauty and wellness warrior, married to Doug and mother to two beautiful daughters, Ella and Charlotte. I'm also a two-time breast cancer survivor.
I was first diagnosed in 2001 at age 26 with a grade 3 cancer after discovering a lump in the shower. Over the course of a year, I underwent surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy. As a single woman living on my own and just establishing my career it was an incredibly difficult time. It was then that I realised the physical and emotional toll Breast cancer takes on a young woman. Fertility, hair and breasts all things that make you a woman were being attacked!
Fast forward 17 years and after marrying my soul mate and having my two daughters naturally to the amazement of my fertility doctor and running my own beauty business life was great. But yet again in the shower, I felt a lump. Yes, my cancer had returned at age 43.
I underwent a double mastectomy in December 2017 which yet again was a very challenging time for everyone. With small girls 2 & 4 at the time of diagnosis, I was unable to be the active mum I was for at least 3 months after the operation, it was difficult. It was during this time that I again felt the devastating impact Breast Cancer has on a young woman and their families. This time I had lost my breasts, was dealing with extensive scarring and yet again had to deal with my own mortality as well as a young family.
Breast cancer has been a big part of my life as my Mum also had breast cancer at age 44 and was lucky enough to survive a poor prognosis. My beautiful cousin Lisa also diagnosed with Breast Cancer at age 36 passed away in 2018 at age 43, she was like a sister to me and a big reason that Defining Beauty was born. I was lucky enough to glam Lisa up on a night out with the girls when I knew she wasn’t feeling particularly great so I suggested she drop in on her way into town and I would give her a pamper session. Reluctantly she came. I remember her arriving at the front door and in typical Lisa style she announced, so what can you do with this!
After an hour of moisturisers, makeup, and offering a few tips and tricks for the future, nails and styling the cute pixie hair that was growing back after one of her rounds of Chemo, and some great chats, she was ready. I took her to the mirror and the look on her face was priceless…. A beaming smile from ear to ear and again in typical Lisa style she exclaims, “I’m beautiful!”
I will never forget her literally skipping down the driveway and kicking her heels, turn and again say to me “I’m beautiful”.
Now Lisa was always beautiful to me no matter how she looked, but it was then and there that I realised that it wasn’t how I had made her look, it was how I had made her feel and Defining Beauty was born.
I have been a very active BCNA advocate for young women for many years and the face of The Field of Women at the MCG in 2018. I have spoken at many functions to raise awareness of Breast Cancer in young woman, which I'm very proud of.
All I ask is for everyone to CHECK YOUR BOOBS!