Interviewed by Vanessa McCall.
Nicola picked out her favourite pieces from
When Nicola Peachey walks into a room you instantly notice her. She glows with good health and positivity and has the most beautiful smile. Her social media is peppered with motivational quotes, glamorous outfits, friends, family, travel with friends and family, proud mama moments and cancer. Back in 2014, Nicola was diagnosed with a very rare form of breast cancer. She chose to document her cancer journey on her blog, the cleverly named “Just Peachey”. Nicola is now on the other side and living life to the absolute fullest, and then some! She's an absolute inspiration and a great example of how a positive mindset can help get anyone through whatever life decides to throw at them.
Nicola is wearing the stunning raw silk Palermo Dress.
Nicola, what was your reasoning for starting your Just Peachey blog about your cancer treatment and recovery?
I originally started my blog so I could update my friends and family with my breast cancer diagnosis and treatment plan in one space. I had a lot of people calling and texting me which was lovely, but it became quite overwhelming. Writing the blog was quite cathartic on one hand and it also took the pressure off me responding to people individually.
I started to have other breast cancer fighters reach out to me via my blog thanking me for helping them through their diagnosis. I ended up creating a public Instagram page and sharing my blog there. I had quite a rare form of breast cancer (triple negative breast cancer) and my surgery was quite different too (lat-dorsi reconstruction) so using those hashtags on Instagram meant that I started interacting with other women going through a similar diagnosis. It was very helpful, and I didn’t feel so quite alone.
Nicola wearing the Grace Silk Skirt with the Lilia Camisole.
You took cancer by the horns and shook the life out of it! You stepped up to the plate and became very involved in raising breast cancer awareness through public speaking and fundraising. Can you tell us a little more?
I was 39 years old when diagnosed. My children were 11 and 9 years of age. I was the healthiest and fittest I’d been in my life and the diagnosis seemed to come out of nowhere, so I wanted to raise as much awareness as possible to other young women. I got involved with many breast cancer charities in different capacities. One year prior to my diagnosis I ran the Mother’s Day Classic to improve my fitness, whilst also raising money for the National Breast Cancer Foundation (NBCF). Little did I know that less than a year later, only one week after my first round of chemo, I would be running it for myself and other breast cancer fighters. This year, I will be running my 10th Mother’s Day Classic for NBCF (the only year I missed was last year due to being sick with Covid). One year, I shared my story before the race down at Langley Park in Perth.
I was the testimonial speaker at the Pink Ribbon Ball in October 2014 just a few weeks after finishing chemo and only weeks before undergoing my double mastectomy and immediate lat-dorsi reconstruction.
I’ve also done a lot of fundraising for the Breast Cancer Network Australia (BCNA) and was selected to be a Community Liaison representative for them. In 2017, I was chosen to attend the BCNA National Summit on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland.
The main charity I support is our local one, Breast Cancer Care WA. They provide specialist breast care nursing, counselling and practical support to all West Australians facing a diagnosis of breast cancer. I used their services about a year after my diagnosis. They have a Young Women’s Support group which I participated in initially for myself and, as time went on, I became a mentor to others. I’ve supported many of their fundraisers over the years - The Long Table Lunch, the Boobalicious Ball and Purple Bra Day. I organised a bootcamp style fundraiser for Purple Bra Day down at City Beach. I had over 50 people turn up and many generous local retailers donated prizes. It was a great success and a fun day out!
Nicola is wearing the beautiful handprinted silk
Cloud Camisole & Palazzo pants.
You are an absolute picture of good health. What is your exercise regime?
That’s very kind of you. I’ve always enjoyed keeping fit and healthy. When I was younger, I swam and did ballet. As I got older, I did dance classes for fun and have been a member of several gyms doing a mix of cardio and weight-training classes. Since my breast cancer diagnosis in 2014 I’ve had seven surgeries, my largest being in October 2014 when I underwent a double mastectomy with immediate lat-dorsi reconstruction - so my latissimus dorsi muscles from my back are now on my chest! This has made some exercises a little challenging to say the least! My last surgery was at the end of 2018. Surgeries take a toll on you physically and mentally. I always felt I was taking two steps forward then four steps back with my recovery, so I never really invested fully in weight training as there was always another surgery coming. That was until 2021 when I decided to leave my regular gym and go to a new gym. I actually tried to join them in 2020 but then this little thing called a pandemic got in the way of those plans! I’ve been a member of BBR (Bodies by Ryan) in Claremont since 2021 and I finally feel confident in the way my new body moves. The instructors have been great in giving me alternatives with my limitations from my surgeries. Other than weight-training, I walk most days. I love doing the Zamia trail at Bold Park and I also do reformer Pilates.
You love travel (don't we all?). Where have you been in the past and do you have a favourite destination?
Ah travel! Yes - one of my great loves! My mum is English and was a Flight Attendant for British United (now British Airways) before she married my dad and moved to Australia. She brought myself and my siblings up with a love of travel. Whatever we did in life we had to travel if we had the opportunity. Well, I took that quite literally! After Year 12, I applied for a Student Exchange and at the age of 17 I went to live in Brazil for a year, learning Portuguese. I fell in love with Brazil so, after returning to Perth and working in a Language School, I got my TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) qualification, and I returned to Brazil at the age of 21 for another year teaching English. Whilst there I travelled all around Brazil - spending a week at Carnaval in Salvador, Bahia (in the north-east of Brazil) which was an incredible experience! I also travelled around Argentina, Chile, and Paraguay. From South America, rather than returning home, I flew straight to London. Thanks to my mum I had an EU passport, so I was able to live and work in the UK. I spent the next three years living and working in London and Liverpool. In 1997, I took three months off work and travelled around Europe, starting with ANZAC Day at Gallipoli in Turkey which was an unforgettable experience. Through my work as an EFL teacher I met many students from all over the world, so I met up with a lot of them whilst travelling around. I visited Turkey, Greece, Poland, Czech Republic, Austria, Germany, Denmark, Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland, Italy, France, Spain, Portugal, and Ireland!
When I heard the news from my surgeon that I had to undergo chemo I can remember chatting to my mum soon after. Again, travel came into play. She said, “Ok I think the best solution is to have something to look forward to”, so that’s when I started planning my trip to New York! I was going through chemo when I turned 40 so I had a belated 40th and went to New York for my 41st birthday. It was the trip of a lifetime, literally!
Your daughter Anna is currently in Spain on a six-month student exchange (and of course as her Mum you will have to go there to bring her back home...!!) As you mentioned earlier, you also went on a student exchange to Brazil 30 years ago. You both have really taken yourselves out of your comfort zones!
The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree! Anna had listened to all my stories over the years so more fool me when she said she wanted to apply for an exchange. She applied for a scholarship during Year 12 and was the winner for her video entry. She is located just outside of Madrid, living with a host family and going to school over there. We are going to meet her at the end of her program in June/July.
As mentioned, I was an exchange student to Brazil for a year in 1991. I lived with a host family which consisted of my host-mother, host-father and four host-sisters. None of them spoke English apart from my host-mother. She was strict which at first was pretty difficult but in the end was the best thing. She spoke English with me for my first week in Brazil then from the second week onwards it was all Portuguese! Thrown into the deep end was the only way I would learn! There was no internet, email, FaceTime, or social media back then (ha-ha) it was all letters and phone calls, which were few and far between as they were so expensive. At least now with our daughter we can send a text or pick up the phone with no delays or costs. I had some incredible experiences in Brazil which were life-changing. I grew up a lot and became very independent. I think I still carry that independence today which has helped me in many facets of my life.
You are currently a global ambassador for SuperFastDiet. What is it exactly and how did this role come about? Do you feel healthier for it?
During my treatment for breast cancer I was put into ‘chemopause’, like menopause but chemically-induced because of all the drugs. I gained quite a bit of weight in a short period of time plus the multiple surgeries left me in a great deal of pain and I had a lot of inflammation. I tried a few diets to lose the excess weight. I’d drop a few kilos then I’d put it all back on again, plus some. When chatting to a breast care counsellor she asked if I’d ever looked into intermittent fasting to help ease my inflammation and pain. A lot of research has been done on intermittent fasting and the benefits for cancer patients, especially breast cancer survivors. Plus it had an added benefit of weight loss. It sparked an interest so I looked into it. That’s when I stumbled across the Australian organisation, SuperFastDiet. The ‘fast’ in the title stands for ‘fasting’, not fast as in ‘super quick’. I joined their online program in February 2018 and I haven’t looked back. What made it unique was the community encouragement I received from their private Facebook group. I’d done nearly every program under the sun and I’d never seen anything like it before. It was so supportive. Within a few months, my pain was significantly better and I’d already dropped a few kilos. I couldn’t believe how easy it was and I wondered why everyone else wasn’t doing it!
In 2019, I won a competition to have dinner in Sydney with Sally Obermeder and her sister, Maha Corbett, who run the wellness brand, Swiish. I had admired Sally for years as a journalist, plus she had an incredible fashion sense, but closer to home, she was a breast cancer survivor too and coincidentally had the same breast cancer as me. I was so honoured to meet her face to face. Whilst in Sydney, I also arranged to meet up with Victoria Black and Gen Davidson, the co-founders of SuperFastDiet (SFD), along with their Head of Coaching, Angie O’Reilly, who was also a breast cancer survivor. We had a lovely lunch together at the Opera Bar in Sydney. It was so refreshing meeting these lovely women who had literally changed my life with their program. Just over 6 months later, in 2020 just after the pandemic had started, Angie reached out to me and asked if I wanted to be a Coach for SFD as I had had such great success. The rest, as they say, is history!
I was trained up and became the only coach in WA at that time. I went on to coach several hundred ladies into their best possible shape of life, both physically and mentally. It was a very rewarding role. Last year I decided to take a break from coaching, however Victoria & Gen didn’t want to lose me so they offered me the role of Global Ambassador for the SuperFastDiet brand. I have since helped them launch SFD into the UK, the US and Canada.
I continue to help thousands of women in our private Facebook group and regularly do Facebook Live posts helping women with any challenges they may have. I really love my role. One of my old clients recently contacted me. Her goal when she signed up to our program was to comfortably fit in an airline seat so that she could make the trek from Broome to Perth for medical treatment. Plus, she also wanted to go fishing with her husband and feel confident in the boat. I cannot tell you the tears of joy I felt when she told me she had achieved these goals. Not only that but she then had the courage to apply for a new job and she got it! She was just recently promoted too. It is such a wonderful feeling helping others. It’s true what they say, a helping hand can be a ray of sunshine in a cloudy world.
What things are on your bucket list?
I’ve ticked off quite a number already! I made a list after my cancer diagnosis. When you are faced with a life-changing event it definitely makes you look at the world differently. Some of my bucket list items I’ve ticked off over the past 9 years include:
Travel to New York; go to the AFL Grand Final at the MCG to watch my team (the Eagles) play; attend the New Year’s Eve Skyshow in Sydney, get a dog (who is now my third child haha); go to the Pink Lady match at the MCG (and actually stand in the middle of the G with hundreds of thousands of other men and women all dressed in pink!); return to Paris for my husband’s 50th birthday after we celebrated his 30thbirthday there; go water-skiing (more complicated than it sounds once your lats have been moved!); do charity work for organisations that helped me; go to the Melbourne Cup in Victoria (snuck in Derby Day too!); climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge; host an exchange student from Brazil (Sofia lived with us for a year in 2020); perform in a flash mob; get a tattoo; go swimming with the whale sharks in Exmouth; learn another language (I’m currently learning Spanish), say YES to opportunities!
I read somewhere that your second life begins when you realise you only have one. I think that’s what happened to me. I’ve crammed a lot into the past nine years since my diagnosis and I don’t plan on slowing down any time soon!
Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?
It sounds cliché but all I want is to be happy and healthy and to continue to be a life enthusiast.
If you haven’t noticed by now, I love travelling and I love other languages. Our neighbours do a house swap for a few months a year. This is something that I’d love to do. Live in another house for maybe three months at a time, learn a new language and experience a different culture. The pandemic has taught us that we can work remotely so anything is possible!
Thank you to