We first met Farrah Millar when she entered into our annual Mother & Baby Magazine Awards' Mum of the Year competition back in 2016.

There was something truly special about her. Just 18 hours after the birth of her second child, a son, Farrah was diagnosed with stage three breast cancer. Refusing to let the disease get the better of her, she focused all her efforts on being the best mum to her young children, all while seeking treatment for the disease and actively raising awareness for women to check their breasts.

Farrah and her daughter

Farrah with her eldest child, her daughter Lehnae.

She later underwent a troublesome double mastectomy and sadly, her relationship with her partner at the time broke down. Farrah suddenly found herself a single mum-of-two in the middle of her cancer treatment, relying on friends and family to get her through. All through this experience, Farrah never complained or let her setbacks get the better of her. She turned her life around, and despite a rocky road with her treatment, she couldn't be happier.

This is Farrah's story.

Farrah hanging out with her little boy, Rhylan.

Farrah hanging out with her little boy, Rhylan.

The ‘perfect’ life

I've always played by the rules. A good girl from the get-go – I studied hard, went to college, landed some amazing jobs – did everything I was supposed to do, and everything that was expected of me, and more.

My life was legible, documented appropriately on social media, it was seemingly perfect. To the outsider looking in, I was living 'the dream': a house by the sea, a one-year-old with one on the way, a handsome boyfriend, all the toys and gadgets a Gen Y could manage and muster.

Farrah says while it initially looked like she was living the "dream", she had no idea the health battle she was about to face next.

But, the light inside me that illuminated my selfies and lit up a room with laughter was gradually fading. I was dim and growing darker, and I felt heavy and suffocated. I had lost my true voice and even worse – in the pursuit of the picket-fence life and tiny tots I wanted so badly and equated with 'happiness' – I lost my true self. In desperation, I prayed to whoever was up there, to whatever was out there, to send me a sign and set me on the right path. And boy did I get what I asked for.

On March 30, 2016, the day after my son was born, I was diagnosed with Stage 3B, Invasive Ductal Carcinoma – more commonly known as breast cancer. If there's one thing that's going to tangle and twist your life and turn you inside out and upside down, it's cancer. Very quickly a light was cast into all the dark places and I could see into all the corners of my life with a glaring clarity. And I didn't like what I saw – or worse yet, who I had become.

Farrah Millar

Farrah says her breast cancer diagnosis shone a light on all the dark places in her life.

A turning point

In September 2016, I was crowned Mother & Baby's Mother of the Year – a title fairly undeserved considering I had only been a mother for all of 20 months. But it was a huge validation for me in a year where my entire world was crumbling around me.

You see, 2016 was my 'Chrysalis'. It unleashed my inner-butterfly, albeit with a bruised and battered body and two-less tits than I started. A harrowing year of tests and treatment, soul-searching and surgeries, I emerged with and a string of severed connections that led to a new home and a new life as a single mum, 75km away from the world I no longer knew. And I've never been happier.

Farrah Millar

Farrah in hospital following her double mastectomy.

Winning at Mum life

I write this article just one week out from my third breast surgery, at 11pm while I wait for my teeniest toddler to emerge from his big-boy-bed in search of milk.
There's dishes in the sink and washing in the basket and day-old makeup on my face. My chest is throbbing, my eyes are rolling back in my head, the cat is meowing and the clock is incessantly ticking through the number of minutes I still haven't gotten to sleep yet…

But these are the sights and sounds of me winning at mum-life. Because, despite my dishevelled state and questionable lucidity, today was a huge success. I got more than four hours' sleep! I remembered to put the bins out.

I didn't lose my phone. I managed to get my three and two year old "Irish Twins" to daycare before 9am, with full tummies and fully clothed. I cleaned my house, did two loads of washing, caught up with my sister, ran all of my errands, cooked a meal, shopped for my son's birthday and squeezed in an episode of Married At First Sight. It might sound mundane to some, but this 'ordinary' mum-day for me is something I prayed for and only dreamed of achieving less than two years ago.

Farrah Millar

Farrah's not letting her cancer diagnosis stop her from enjoying precious time with her little ones.

I've come a long way since then and 2018 has begun with a bang! So far this year I've raised over $3500 for the National Breast Cancer Foundation and in less than two months I'll fly out to China to trek the Great Wall as part of my mission to raise funds and awareness for NBCF and inspire and support other young mothers diagnosed with breast cancer.

I've also finally found the courage to start on my passion project: my first book.

Farrah's mission? To help raise money to support other young mums who've been diagnosed with cancer.

There are thousands of mums out there doing it tough. Everyone has their own personal pain – their backstory, their sadness, their inescapable weight of woes and worries that they push down and forge through… because we just have to! In being a Mum, we really find ourselves.

When it all gets too much and we feel ourselves slipping, our children are the ones who can single-handedly crash our pity party and give us strength to make it through another day.