Choosing Happiness while Living with Stage 4 Cancer - Nina Lopes.

We met beautiful Nina Lopes (@frodayss) almost 2 years ago. We had just put out a request on Instagram for Ambassadors for Elä Life to share about our brand and champion it. Nina's application jumped out at us. Her incredibly bright eyes, amazing afro hair and just something about her caught our eye. She has become one of the faces of our brand and we love her. Two years on and she is now living with incurable, stage 4 cancer, yet she continues to inspire us with her zest for life. We wanted to ask her some questions about her journey to inspire you all and to mark Breast Cancer Awareness month. If you don't already follow her, then head over to Instagram and find her - @frodayss

Can you tell us when you were diagnosed with breast cancer and what type you have?

I was diagnosed with primary triple negative breast cancer in July 2018, had a complete pathological response (no active cancer) in Feb 2019. However in July 2021 I found out it had spread.

What is your current diagnosis? 
My current diagnosis is incurable secondary breast cancer. I will be on chemo until it stops working or I run out of drugs to buy me time.

Secondary breast cancer means that the disease has spread to other parts of the body, making it inoperable and terminal.

My treatment plan is without curative intent and although it’s an extremely challenging way to live, it’s giving me beautiful time to live and love.

Tell us about your Instagram journey and how it started.
It started after a friend encouraged me to share my hair growth journey after I lost it to chemo.

At the time I was on a beautiful healing journey after completing cancer treatment. I had lost my hair my eyebrows and had to rediscover myself all over again. And it was beautiful. I guess my friend understood the power in that and felt I needed to share with the world. So I did.

It was extremely daunting as I’m usually a very private person. But it’s been so rewarding to see the community I have found.

What inspired you to start your page?
Completing cancer treatment. Seeing my hair grow, face and body change as it recovered it inspired me to live!

And I wanted to share that hope with someone else that was behind me in their cancer journey. I wanted them to have hope.

How has the Instagram Cancer community helped you on your journey?
They have helped in so many valuable ways. From knowledge to support to real life friends that understand good and the bad days, because they are going through the same.

How do you stay grounded and calm when you are living with cancer?
I try to remain present in the now. Also, I am a mother and my job is to raise her to know that we are in control of how we react to our reactions.

I see the beauty even in my most challenging days. It’s such a privilege to still be here.

Therefore, I choose happiness amongst it all.

What keeps you going during the dark days?  
My daughter.

One hug from her has the power to bring all the light I need in my life. I have many precious people to love and that energy reminds me daily how lucky I am to still be here with them.

What lifts you and helps you cope?
I love to dance. So as soon as I put my music on really loud and start to move, I go to another place. The world around me stops and all the noise goes away.

Walking in the woods help to calm mind, so I put a podcast on and I KEEP MOVING.

What makes you happy?

The smell of fresh linen,

The sound of the birds outside my bedroom window.

When my daughter calls out for me and says, mama!

The love I feel from all those in my life,

The sound and smell of the sea.

Music and how it moves me to dance…

Someone waiting for me with my favourite drink.

The little things make me happy!

What or who inspires you?
People inspire me! I’m inspired by kindness, passion, someone’s purpose and energy.

Seeing my daughter become a young lady also inspires me to do better and ultimately to lead by example.

That is why I am taking part in this year's Coppafeel Sahara Desert charity trek. I am raising money for a good cause, by raising awareness of breast cancer in young women, but also pushing my stage 4 cancer body to do what I know it can. 

To heal itself and to keep pushing.

Hopefully it shows my daughter that we can do the impossible, if we just KEEP GOING!