Hello, I'm Ellen and I'm the founder of Brave Collective.
At the start of summer 2018, my world imploded when I was was diagnosed with cancer at 28-years-old.
Nothing can ever truly prepare you for the day you hear the words "I'm afraid it's cancer". My doctors were so sure of it that they 95% confirmed it there and then, before we even had the results of my biopsy and scans. An agonising 10-day wait and it was confirmed, a 7.5cm tumour sitting tight in my left breast.
Cancer can feel really lonely, especially as a young adult, but it doesn't have to be. I was one of the youngest ever diagnosed with breast cancer at my hospital, bringing down the group average in the hospital waiting room by a good 10-15 years. But surely I couldn't be the only one. I broadened my reach to online, documenting everything through my personal Instagram account (@ellen_danielle) and it was here that I found a community that I never knew existed before my diagnosis; a community that demonstrates strength, solidarity and unwavering support for anyone living with and beyond cancer. Thousands of other young adults just like me.
Brave Collective was born from a combination of two passions. The first, heavy music: deep-rooted within me since my teen years, wearing tattered Converse, studded belts and listening to bands at sweaty dim-lit gig venues. The second, supporting the community that welcomed me with open arms when I needed it most: a newly-found passion, yet now more important than ever.
Since my diagnosis I've undergone IVF, 3 months of chemotherapy, extensive reconstructive surgery and radiotherapy. I’m now cancer free and I still can’t quite believe it. I have to stop myself from saying “I have cancer” because I HAD cancer, and I kicked it’s ass.
I understand what it's like to lose your hair, go through medically-induced menopause in your 20's, face the possibility of never being able to have children before you've even tried, watch how your diagnosis and treatment impacts on those you love most, celebrate the overwhelming highs and experience the devastating lows and what it's like to be faced with the mammoth task of rebuilding your life after cancer. All the while trying to tackle the everyday pressures that come with just BEING a young adult in their 20's and 30's; the years that have the potential to shape and influence the rest of your life.
I also understand the crucial importance of a support network throughout one of the hardest things you'll ever come face-to-face with and the difference it makes to connect with someone who has been through it and truly gets it. I've gained friends for life through this very means; friends that I've shared and faced more hardships with in a year than I have with some friends I've known my whole life.
I want to show the world what cancer in your 20's and 30's really looks like, breakdown the common misconception that you're ever 'too young' for cancer, provide a platform through our social channels for young adults to share their story and support each other and sell some kickass rock-inspired merch along the way to raise vital funds for three cancer charities.
I really hope that you guys vibe off what I'm trying to do here at Brave Collective. I'm passionate about sharing your stories, collaborating with some awesome creatives and every order we receive means more than you'll ever know. I hope it continues to grow.
And for me personally, I'm still trying to adjust to life after cancer. It's been one hell of ride.