Australian mother of two shares heartbreaking story behind this photo: 'How can you not feel the cancer?'

Kirstin Pretorius was on vacation with her family when she took a cute photo with her husband Maurice. The Australian couple, who have two children, look as happy as can be. When you think of a picture-perfect couple ... it's Kirstin and Maurice.

But everything is not really as perfect as it seems -- beneath Kirstin's bright blonde hair and sun-kissed complexion was a woman who was actually really sick. Just weeks later, doctors discovered a lump. Kirstin had breast cancer and she had no idea.

"I look at this picture ... and all I can think is 'KIRSTIN how can you not know that there are 3 tumors thriving away in your breast? How can you not FEEL the cancer slipping into your lymph nodes?" the 34-year-old wrote in an Instagram that was posted in July but just recently started gaining attention. "'Why don't you FEEL sick? How can you be so stupid!?' But I didn't know and I didn't feel."

10 PHOTOS
See photos of Kirstin Pretorius
See Gallery
See photos of Kirstin Pretorius
Chemo round 2 with my lovely Italian sister! Swapped out the useless #scalpcooling helmet for this fierce tiger turban. More me! Full throttle fight mode ahead. 💪💪👊👊 #chemo #chemoturban #chemohair #chemosucks #cancerwarrior #tigermode #stupidcancer #baldunderhere #butbold #nohairdontcare #nohairissohotrightnow #dreamingofmyfuturemohawk #kickingcancersbutt #tassleearrings 💛
The storms blew and scattered my plans, But I wiped away tears and painted a smile, Gathered the flowers strewn at my feet And assembled a crown. #breastcancerwarrior #chemocrown #flowercrown #flowerswhentheresnohair #inspiredbypetals #dsfloral #floweraddict #cancerfighter #cancersucks #instapoetry #cancerinspiration
I survived my first week after chemo! I actually feel like a partial human being again! Woohoo!! ... I also learnt how to officially embrace looking like a cancer patient at 'look good feel better', where some wonderful volunteer ladies explained how to cover this balding head and paint on new eyebrows without looking like a drag queen. A challenging day of facing reality was made all the sweeter by having my beautiful mom by my side. Thank you @brendajoyk for a last day together that I'll never forget 😢💕. I'll wear my cheerful lipstick just for you! #cancerfighters #cancersucks #chemo #lookgoodfeelbetter
How I feel about sitting in another pink waiting room. Yay! I just LOVE waiting for some more bad news. Today was a thrilling list of side effects to look forward to. 'Oh don't worry we'll give you this poison to counteract that poison and in the end you'll be so toxic you better wash all your clothes separately from the rest of the family.' Double hip hip hooray! When this whole thing is over I never want to see #pink. Ever. Again.
When your friends know you so well that they throw you a pre -chemo party and you laugh and laugh and laugh... and remember AGAIN how very very blessed you are ❤❤❤❤
It turns out that wigs are the BUSINESS. Watch out, I've got one for nearly every mood and I've been medically warned that 'menopausal mood swings' will be coming my way. Who knows which one of my personae you might run into?... this is my bad cop/good assassin wig which may be totally unnecessary for dog walking and school pickup, but it's always better to be over prepared I say. #funtimesahead #countdowntochemo #breastcancer #itstillsucks #itsuckslesswhentheresahotwig
This danger space zone is actually me having my first chemo! The scalp 'cooling' machine (ha more like scalp 'freeze' and 'suffocate' machine) was the first challenge. Fortunately once they froze my fingers, the hour of frost bite torture took my mind right of my throbbing scalp. Small victories!! Ooh well, anything to prevent these finger nails from falling off! Challenge number 2 was watching the nurse climb into full toxic waste protective gear (goggles and all) just in case some of my poison splashed... But oh no it's perfectly safe to put it directly into your blood stream! BUT, Chemo one is done and dusted. 👊👊👊 Thank goodness I had my beautiful blankie and pashmina from gorgeous friends to keep me warm all day. 💕 and i felt all the love sent from across the world 💕... Thank you! #breastcancer #chemo #cancersucks #cancerwarrior #scalpcooling #frostbitefighter
What do you do when your hair is falling out in patches and you're literally shedding throughout the house despite wasting 5 & 1/2 hours in a frozen torture cap? Step one - shave your husband's hair in a very classy skew Mohawk so everyone stares at HIM. (Brilliant idea babe!) @mjpre Step two - get the whole family to shave your head even shorter and get ready to embrace the #turban . Luckily they're so very on trend right now. (Yes keep telling yourself that Kirstin.) #chemohair #cancershave #hairloss #breastcancer #cancersucks #cancerwarrior #cancerfighters
There's nothing like a cancer induced buzz cut to force a bit of personal reinvention! It's been a real challenge to try and feel comfortable and confident when my reflection doesn't look like ME. I'm a bag of bones, pail and exhausted AND have no hair. But life carries on and I refuse to hibernate for 6 months. So I've wrapped myself in bright sunshine pashminas, dangled on some enormous earrings, smeared on joyful hot pink lipstick and plastered on the biggest smile I can. 'Out with the old and in with the new'. 👊 #breastcancer #cancerwarrior #chemohair #buzzcut #newstyle #survivor #newbeginnings
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

Since her diagnosis, Kristin has made several changes to her lifestyle, including going on a "virtually-vegan" diet and regularly exercising.

"If my doctor hadn't examined me, I'd still be blissfully unaware. I'd be packing my little plastic-free super food lunches for my girls, lecturing them on healthy lifestyles. I'd be chemically-free cleaning my home wondering why the whole world doesn't use essential oils. All the while growing and feeding my precious cancer."

She ended her post with an important message for women everywhere: "Check your boobs. Know your body. Cancer happens. To anyone."

16 PHOTOS
Well-known figures who have battled cancer
See Gallery
Well-known figures who have battled cancer

Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter

(REUTERS/Neil Hall)

Television personality Robin Roberts

(REUTERS/Lucas Jackson)

Another basal cell carcinoma. Thanks to frequent checks & amazing doctors, all's well. Looks worse w the dressing o… https://t.co/cFIi0Zhmtr

Actress Shannen Doherty

(REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni)

Chef Sandra Lee

(Photo by Noam Galai/WireImage)

Cyclist Lance Armstrong

(Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

Actress Rita Wilson attends

(Photo by Tara Ziemba/Getty Images)

Former GMA anchor Joan Lunden

(Photo by Lou Rocco/ABC via Getty Images)

TV host Sharon Osbourne

(REUTERS/Kevork Djansezian)

Journalist Tom Brokaw

(Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images)

Actress Christina Applegate

(Photo by Tibrina Hobson/WireImage)

Comedian Wanda Sykes

(Photo by Tara Ziemba/Getty Images)

TV personality Giuliana Rancic

(Photo by Jeff Schear/Getty Images for Michigan Avenue)

Musician Sheryl Crow

(Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images)

Musician Rod Stewart

(REUTERS/Rick Wilking)

HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

In Australian blog Honey Nine, Kirstin has opened up about her scary journey, revealing that she was "horrified" when she first found out that she had cancer.

"I'm one of those people who always thinks everything will be fine. Even waiting for the biopsy results I kept telling myself, 'I'm sure they're going to say it was a false alarm.' So when they said, 'It's cancer,' I was shocked, I was horrified."

Though Kirstin is facing the ultimate battle of her life, she has the support of her friends and family around her.

"My mum flew out from South Africa and my sister came from Italy," Kirstin said. Her neighbors and friends in a suburb of Sydney have also offered their help.

"The community are really willing to help, and that's one of the best lessons that I've learned," she continued. "When bad things happen like this, people rally together. They're there for you, even people you don't know well. So that's one beautiful side of cancer, to see the kindness of humanity."

Read Full Story

Sign up for the Best Bites by AOL newsletter to get the most delicious recipes and hottest food trends delivered straight to your inbox every day.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.