Diagnosed as such an early age meant Leota had to make decisions that would affect the plans she and Joe had set out for themselves. Her dreams of starting a family, "a football team of kids" as she describes, were put at risk with chemotherapy and hormone-blocking treatments known to affect the fertility of female cancer patients.
After her mastectomy, Leota made the decision to undergo two egg retrieval procedures in the midst of chemotherapy and radiation. As of January 2019, Leota has been in remission and she and Joe have since welcomed their first child in May of this year - a daughter, Mila.
"The journey was and has been beautiful," she says. "Challenging definitely but so beautiful. I think what I went through with my cancer battle really prepared me for pregnancy and for motherhood - in so many ways, but especially physically and mentally. I’ve learnt to appreciate my body and all its magic so much since finishing treatment, so watching it grow and go through so many physical changes was really special to experience. And mentally, I’m just so much stronger and more willing.
"I won’t lie and say it’s been easy but being mentally strong has for sure pulled me out of the hard days."
Two months after going into remission, Leota took to her blog to write a candid and open letter to herself and reading it a year on even she can't help but marvel at everything she's overcome. "That letter makes me so proud of myself," she reflects. "The letter took me so long to write as I had to think back to all the emotions and everything I had been through and I could not stop crying. It’s definitely my favourite blog post that I’ve ever written."
In that letter, she described her diagnosis as a "blessing in a hideous disguise," and admits now that she's come out the other side with a "new outlook, love and appreciation for everything".
And while Leota is looking to the future, she's continuing to use her own experiences to help other young women through the journey. "My best advice would be to just take one day at a time and put one foot in front of the other. It really can be a lot, so just focus on the present and each moment. Appreciate and be grateful for anything you can, especially the little things.
"And lastly but especially; everybody is different so don’t compare what you’re going through or what you’re feeling to anybody else."