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Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Breast Cancer Awareness Month

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month-- a battle that so many are walking through. To all of you {and your loved ones} who are fighting, you are not alone. Your strength, courage, and tenacity are not unnoticed. We are cheering for you, no matter where you are on your journey.

We had the privilege of chatting with several women in our community who have fought, and won, against breast cancer. Hearing their stories, their advice, and their hearts brought tears to our eyes. Grateful to have a little peek into their journeys, and hopeful it will help you in yours.

What advice would you give someone who is just starting their fight against cancer? 

Lisa: "My best advice to someone who is just starting their fight against breast cancer is to let people help you. So often we are used to doing everything ourselves, and take pride in our independence. I had to learn to let people in and allow others to help care for me, and ask for help!"

Charli: "Take a deep breath, because everything is going to be coming at you left and right. Listen to yourself, your doctors and family. Try to keep out “my sister did this treatment” or other people’s stories, that’s their story not yours... Get as much information as you can and if you want a second opinion GET ONE, it won’t hurt the doctors feelings."

Deena: "When I was diagnosed I was overwhelmed with information.  It seemed like everyone I knew had an opinion about how to treat my cancer and sent me information.  I finally had to stop reading it all because it was too overwhelming.  My advice is to put your energy into finding a team of doctors you are comfortable with and trust.  Then let them answer your questions and guide you through the process. I would also say to be optimistic.  With all the medical advances of the last decade, there is every reason to hope that you will be fine."

Christy: "While you may feel like your whole world has been yanked out from underneath you, you'll be surprised to learn that this experience will give greater meaning and purpose to your life. The greatest change that will come from this is an added appreciation for life. You will reflect often on the experiences you’re about to have and you will be grateful for the rest of your life for the love shown to you as you go through this time."

How did those around you support you during treatment? Any suggestions for service + words of encouragement our community can give the cancer warriors in their life?

Lisa: "Cancer patients are not able to reach out and ask, it's too stressful, and we don't want to impose on others. Be there to listen. Sometimes we just need to cry because we're overwhelmed, or we can't taste our food because of chemo, or we don't recognize our reflection in the mirror. Just be there."

Sarah: "Kind notes from family throughout the journey was key. A lot of messages and flowers typically come at the beginning; but, it’s important for people to remember that the journey is much longer than the initial diagnosis. That also extends into survivorship. Post cancer treatment is an adjustment as well. Your life is forever changed, but not always in ways that people can see. Be supportive after the fact, too."

Deena: "I would also add that it is not helpful to share stories of those you know who had terrible experiences with cancer or who passed away.  Someone fighting cancer does not need to hear those stories while they are in the fight."

    Christy: "That moment you think in your mind, ‘I just can’t do this, it’s too hard.’ And then someone tells you they love you, or they share with you something about yourself that they admire. In THOSE moments you are given strength, courage and HOPE to carry on with your battle."

    Looking for a more concrete list? We love these ideas from Christy!

    • Pray for her.
    • Remind her often that you love her! Tell her how amazing she is!
    • Take her a meal, a snack, or her favorite treat.
    • Offer to do her laundry, dishes, any house work. Tell her when you’re coming instead of asking when you can come. Letting people help is hard, but if you say you're coming it’s harder for them to decline it.
    • Give a small package of thank you cards. Writing thank you cards to people who have helped her will fill her heart with gratitude, and help her stay positive.
    • Chapstick! Lips get really dry during chemo.
    • Drop an anonymous gift+encouraging note on her doorstep.  Little things like this will brighten her day!

    "This month is Breast Cancer Awareness month– what things do you wish more people knew about breast cancer + your battle with it?"

    Sarah: "I think it’s extremely important for people to know that early detection makes a difference. Regular screenings and self exams are key. I found my tumor by a self exam well before any scheduled mammograms would have happened for me. I was young and the cancer I had was very aggressive. The fact that I found it early was critical and allowed me to start fighting back against this terrible disease sooner than later."

    Charli: "I’m 6 years NED {no evidence of disease}. I’ve been released from my oncologist, surgical oncologist, gynecologist oncologist and plastic surgeon. I celebrated each time I was released from a new doctor, but felt lost at the same time. For 2 years straight I had a plan, this appointment, that appointment, do this, do that and then all of a sudden they say “you’re NED”... if you need a support group to navigate this change with, find one."

    Christy: "Chemo is tough, but the women who fight cancer are tougher!"