On November 23 last year Laura Cannon's world changed when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. The 23-year-old Englishwoman found a lump in her left breast after seeing a TV program prompting women to check for changes, and though she initially thought it wouldn't be anything serious because of her age, it was unfortunately found to be cancerous.
After regrouping from the diagnosis, her mother suggested she start a blog since Cannon could find very little information online for young women with cancer. In January 2013 she began her rather unconventional beauty blog, Laura Louise and Her Naughty Disease, in which she aims to prove 'you can still be beautiful whilst fighting the big C'.
On the blog she describes finding the best way to wear her new short hair (saying she's particularly grateful to Rihanna and Jessie J for making the chop on trend), her hints on how to disguise thinning brows and lashes, and the sadness of not being able to apply polish because of weakened nails (Cannon owns fifty nail varnishes and often showcases her adorable DIY manicures on the blog). "I was pretty open from the beginning and didn't mind sharing any of my journey. I tried to be as honest as possible but always tackle everything with a smile."
Her optimism and personable writing style quickly won her readers and fans. On the site she made a vow 'to make my battle with the big C as short and fun as possible'. Cannon had always been interested in beauty and found that her forays into prettifying gave her some respite from the enormous difficulties of battling cancer.
"The cancer had robbed me of so many things, I didn't want to let it make me look ill all the time too. Putting some lipstick on or wearing a cool wig or hat was a nice way to feel better. Obviously changes in appearance were difficult to deal with, but I tried to remain positive and focus on the good things."
Another part of Cannon's motivation for wanting to start the blog was to provide an honest account from a younger woman's perspective. Throughout the year she has documented her chemotherapy, shaving her head, and her double mastectomy and reconstruction.
"There was little online for younger cancer patients and also nothing really available on dealing with the changes in appearance that many cancer patients go through," says Cannon. "I wanted to change this and also raise awareness of breast cancer in younger women, [to] make sure that they knew that they were at risk of breast cancer too and [to] start checking their boobs at an early age."
The blog has now grown to have more than 100000 readers and has also gained quite the celebrity following. Russell Brand, Alexa Chung and Gary Barlow have all retweeted the site to their followers.
"I think I realised it was quite popular when I hit 10000 views, but it still doesn't seem real," says Cannon. "I've had some really great feedback. It's nice to know when I've helped someone." Online she has given thanks for the support she's received saying,
"Strangers that I do not even know are rooting for me and willing me to get better and not just from this country, people from all over the world have been in touch."
Right now Cannon is still battling the aftermath of 'Kenneth', as she has dubbed the 'naughty lump in my left boob'. "I have just started five weeks of radiotherapy. I still have tamoxifen tablets and Zoladex injections to take for five years and Herceptin infusions until April."
The blog has also changed her future in unexpected ways. Cannon graduated in Biology from Bristol University, but she has now realised a dream to continue writing (she's in talks with agents about potentially doing a book).
"The blog has definitely caused a shift in my career plans, I would love to work for a women's magazine and obviously keep writing. I would like to write a book and am currently trying to make that a possibility."
- Daily Life