Peloton instructor and fitness influencer, Leanne Hainsby, has bravely opened up on Instagram to her 376,000 followers about her experience of chemotherapy, body hair loss and breast cancer – something which came as a surprise to many, as she kept her illness hidden while continuing to teach classes. She initially shared her diagnosis on 27 January, before following up with a more detailed post about side effects of treatment and trying to appear ‘normal’ on the surface during such a difficult period.
Alongside a series of photos of herself in a long-sleeved, supportive workout top, Leanne (who was diagnosed with breast cancer in August 2022, shortly after losing her best friend) spoke of the importance of keeping some of her hair through using a cold cap throughout chemo, but how unfortunately her eyebrows, lashes and body hair have fallen out as a result of her treatment.
However, she was quick to stress that in the grand scheme of it all, this is far from the most important thing.
“Over the last six months I’ve been determined not to let my insecurities about the way I look affect how I’ve shown up,” Leanne explained. “Some days that’s been easier than others. There have been some dark days, and ‘why me?’ moments along the way, I just don’t stay there. I feel lucky, but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t felt completely shit at times too.”
She continued on to add, “People tell me how lucky I am that I didn’t lose my hair. No, I’m not bald, but I did lose my hair. I lost over half of it and every ponytail has been strategically plaed to make it less obvious […] I worked hard to keep it, so that’s been a win for me […] The cold cap and relentless hair shedding/meticulous hair care for months on end has been traumatic, and somewhere down the line we can get into it more.”
The popular spin instructor also shared that she has had her eyebrows tattooed on and is “living in pretty cool false lashes that are specifically made for people who have lost their lashes”. Neck down, she added, the hair “left the building and is yet to return. I guess I’ll call that a win too”.
“In the grand scheme of things, these side effects have felt irrelevant compared to having the opportunity to get better, but they do make a difference to your self-esteem,” Leanne reflected in her post, along with remarking that her cancer experience has instilled an ethos in her that focussing on “how good you can make other people feel, will always [leave them] looking beyond the physical”.
In her first cancer-related post, Leanne thanked everyone who attended her classes, saying those who did “had no idea the amount of joy” they were bringing to her every day.
“To be in the early stages of grief and then faced with something like this has been unimaginably tough, and that still feels like an understatement,” she wrote candidly, before going on to share that prior to 12 weeks of chemo she was able to complete a round of IVF.
“Treatment will continue for a long time for me, hospital visits are the norm, and I focus on one step at a time,” Leanne continued, citing a desire to raise awareness that breast cancer can impact anyone, of any age, as her motivation for sharing. “I went to a doctor the morning I found the lump, and was told every was ok. I trusted my gut and got a second opinion, that saved my life. Check, and check again.”
We’re sending Leanne all our love and wishes for a strong recovery.