In A Letter to My Loved Ones, our 2020 #NoLessAWoman campaign raising breast cancer awareness, Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist Lynsey Addario and filmmaker and activist Alice Aedy captured 12 women of diverse ages and backgrounds through a hero film and photo series. Bravely baring their scars, stories and strength, they share words they penned to the people who matter most – comfortably and confidently wearing our Louise Listening and adidas by Stella McCartney post-mastectomy bras at home during lockdown.
“I don’t think people realise how many young women are diagnosed with breast cancer; many of these women were initially even sent away by their GPs. I think it was so hard to hear these stories, but the recurring theme was that every woman was so incredibly optimistic, resilient and really had tried to find a kind of strength in their cancer,” says Lynsey Addario.
The latest in a long line of #NoLessAWoman campaigns, breast cancer early detection and prevention is a cause personally important to Stella. For 2020, sales of our pink Whitney Popping lingerie set will support our Stella McCartney Cares Foundation – aiding breast cancer initiatives globally including the Hello Beautiful Foundation in London and The Linda McCartney Centre in Liverpool. A limited number of Louise Listening post-mastectomy bras are also available for free by request at stellamccartneycares.org.
Discover the women’s letters to their loved ones below and read them in full at Stella McCartney Cares.
“The 11th October 2018 will be the day when life as I knew it was shattered by the words, ‘I’m sorry, it’s cancer.’” – Mel Bastien to her loved ones
Mel had just lost her father when she found out she had breast cancer. She removed negative people and behaviours from her life – finding inner strength and support from the positive women around her, giving her the hope to heal physically and emotionally. Mel addresses her letter to them and her family.
“Seeing you fight cancer so gracefully head on, like you do with everything in your life, gives me strength and courage. You are a warrior. You are MY warrior.” – Caroline Boore to her mum
Caroline was first diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 34. Not knowing what tomorrow may bring, the experience has made her stronger and more confident today. She writes her letter to her mother – a fellow warrior who beat breast cancer herself and became her daughter’s champion.
“Cancer has shown me how incredibly strong I am. Cancer has taught me resilience. Cancer has brought my life into sharp, vivid, technicoloured focus.” – Emma Campbell to her daughter Ella
Emma penned a letter to her daughter, Ella, who herself is becoming a young woman. Offering wisdom on self-expression, self-love and self-discovery, she recalls how despite losing both breasts over the course of a decade, cancer has shown her truly matters in life: kindness, connection and vulnerability.
“She had to believe she was going to survive cancer and that her baby would be born happy, healthy and loved more than you can imagine.” – Lizzi England telling her own story to her daughter Violet
After finding a lump and being told she was too young to have breast cancer, at 29 years old and 15 weeks pregnant, Lizzi was diagnosed with the disease. She subsequently gave birth to her healthy daughter, Violet. Lizzi writes her letter to Violet in the style of a third-person fairy tale – one, it seems, that has a happy ending.
“The determination you have gives me no choice but to match it. You give me hope as your show me your potential every day.” – Leanne Hughes to her body
Leanne penned a note to her body as part of our A Letter to My Loved Ones campaign. Diagnosed with breast cancer at age 31, she became committed to making herself physically stronger by pushing herself harder and eating better. By reconnecting with her own body, Leanne ultimately found what she needed to thrive: determination and hope.
“Surrender yourself to love. Healing is a process rooted in love.” – Jane Hutchison to all the women with breast cancer
Jane founded the Hello Beautiful Foundation after her own breast cancer diagnosis, offering women care through free holistic treatments, self-help workshops and counselling sessions. She met Stella soon after launching the organisation and it is now supported by our Stella McCartney Cares Foundation. She writes a letter to herself and all women with breast cancer, offering inspirational words to truly live by.
“Use the medium frying pan. Add a little oil.“– Keely Joseph to her kids Ryan and Alyssa
Keely did not write a letter to her two children; instead, she wrote them the recipe to their favourite cheesy pasta. Since being diagnosed with breast cancer, she has seen just how much she loves spending time with those who matter and being a mum – finding joy in the mundanity of routine and the small adventures of days as a family.
“You were my motivation, my strength and my reason to get out of bed every day and keep going.” – Gemma Longland to her kids Olly and Sienna
Gemma was diagnosed with breast cancer at 35 after she found a slight abnormality in her right breast. Now 38, she writes a letter to her two children, Olly and Sienna, thanking them for giving her the power to push through her intensive treatments – and remain focused on health and happiness.
“I’ve taught myself to love me, discrepancies and all. No one is perfect, but it’s important to accept ourselves for who we are and work on the bits of us we don’t like.” – Sharon Marshall Green to her kids
Sharon was diagnosed with stage-3 breast cancer in May 2016 at the age of 44. As she faced treatments, her then 4-year-old son Pharrell became a source of hope and strength. She shares a letter she wrote to him and his siblings, detailing the things she has discovered about herself, other people and life itself over the course of this journey.
“I’m trying the best that I can to heal, to be healthy and happy and lead an easy life.” – Louisa Rasmussen to her mother and brother Christian
Louisa is a stress less and breathing coach who was diagnosed with incurable secondary breast cancer at age 34 in 2017. While treatments will continue indefinitely, she currently has no evidence of the disease being active. She writes a letter to her mother and brother, detailing her hopes for a happier, healthier future.
“You are a true friend and sister and give me the space to be my full authentic self.” – Toral Shah to her best friend Jonelle
Diagnosed with breast cancer at 29, Toral is a nutritionist, functional medicine practitioner and cancer researcher who now uses science and food to show women how they can pursue healthier lives. In her letter, her words honour the unconditional love of her best friend Jonelle.
“I learnt that despite what challenges we face, in whatever form, we can rise and shall realise our greatest dreams.” – Nisha Tanna to her son and daughter
Nisha was diagnosed with breast cancer at 35, with a one-year-old and two-year-old waiting for her at home. She writes her letter to them now, five years later, able to reflect on how the experience has changed her. It has offered her growth opportunities she can pass on to her kids – lessons like learning how vulnerability gives her access to her truest strength.