Woman with incurable cancer says her life motto is ‘Grow through what you go through’

A message from a woman with incurable breast cancer has been emblazoned across thousands of T-shirts as part of a major awareness campaign.

“You Grow Through What You Go Through” is the life-affirming motto of 30-year-old Mikki Phipps.

Now it has been adopted by the Tickled Pink campaign, championed by charities Breast Cancer Now and Coppa Feel.

Deeply moved to see her words on the T-shirts, available at ASDA, Mikki says: “I want anyone who has the same diagnosis as me to know it does not mean this is the end. There can still be good times ahead.”

Life changed for Mikki and her husband, civil servant Tom, 31, in late 2018. She was diagnosed with an aggressive cancer which later spread to her lungs, liver and brain. Mikki, of Horsham, West Sussex, faces endless rounds of chemotherapy yet her zest for life remains.

She was aware of the risk because her mum, Linda, was diagnosed with breast cancer at 36 and her late nan, Edna, at 46. Then at 26 she found a 10p coin-sized lump below her left armpit.

She says: “I only found it because I was sleeping on my side and my right arm had sort of cuddled my left side.”

Before chemotherapy Mikki had her eggs and two fertilised embryos frozen, still hopeful of starting a family.

After a double mastectomy things looked up until March 2020, when a new lump appeared. A scan then showed the canc er had spread and was now incurable.

“You can’t be positive all the time, but you can try and be as positive as you can,” she says. “Before my diagnosis I had been on antidepressants, but I stopped those as soon as I knew. I also stopped worrying about things that will never happen.

She says: “I found myself having conversations about plans for end- of-life and my funeral, which I never expected to be having at this age.”

There is a high risk her embryos will carry the breast cancer gene mutation, so Mikki plans to have everything destroyed. “While I do make time to feel the sadness, I don’t dwell on it or allow it to dominate my life,” she said.

During the pandemic her mum was diagnosed a second time but has now recovered. It brought home to Mikki that quality time with family and people you love is the most important thing of all.

She has had to give up her jobs as civil service trainer but has never asked for a definitive prognosis because she doesn’t want to know. She says: “I have the treatment that works for me until it doesn’t and then we try a new one.”

“Cancer changes you: physically, psychologically and emotionally. I want to make the most of the time I have left.”