Becoming a mother is an exciting and wonderful journey. But what happens when that journey is disrupted with the diagnosis of breast cancer? What then? What are the best ways to handle motherhood and your breast cancer battle at the same time?
Being a mother is such an exciting, difficult, challenging, and wonderful thing. We thank our mothers for the love and care they've given us, and we strive to be the best mothers we can be for our children. But when a diagnosis of breast cancer steps into your life as a mother, what then? Naturally, the first thought will be of your children. How will I care for them? How will life go on for us as a family through my diagnosis and care? What happens when I can't care for them? What happens if I don't win this battle? In this two-part blog, we will be discussing what to do and how to handle parenthood while going through both your diagnosis and treatment. In the second post, we will be discussing and sharing some of the best resources out there for you to help through this journey.
At first, there might not feel like there are a ton of resources out there for you. As we discussed in our November blog, it's is still rare to be a young woman with a young family and be diagnosed with cancer. But, it still happens more than most realize. As a mother in this situation, you will be dealing with the same amount of day to day struggles and responsibilities, but it will get even harder when that diagnosis comes. You will now be facing treatment, care, long hospital stays, surgeries, and not feeling like yourself or very good at all while still dealing with your normal load of life. It is almost like your life has been split into two, and you have to live through both of them at the same time.
It is going to be difficult. That fact won't be a mystery to you. Being apart is hard, but with love and devotion, you've made that an integral part of your life. With this same kind of love and devotion, you can fight this battle as a parent. Please know that you're not alone. You might feel like you are, you might feel disconnected from your family and loved ones but you're not. Once the diagnosis comes, your first duty as you approach the battle is to rally your troops. If not for you, then for your children. Show them that they too will not be alone. The family dynamic might change while you're fighting your diagnosis, but there will be a parade of love and care for them and you if you let it.
There are many important things to keep in mind when going through your diagnosis as a parent. You will need to find the best fit for you and your family, make informed and family-based decisions on what's best for all of you, and your decisions will not be the same as anyone else's. This is all okay. Here are some tips and ideas to keep in mind as you begin this journey, together.
You are still a parent when you receive your diagnosis, this is not your fault. Your children want to help you, love you, and support you on this journey. Let them in. Know when to say no, be strong enough to set boundaries and to let people in, and know when it's time to ask for help. You will not hang up your superhero mom cape when it's time to ask for help or when treatment has you beat. If anything, it makes your cape that much stronger. We will see you next time for part two of this blog. Until then be well, keep fighting, and go into 2020 with your head up.
Sometimes you just need to find a connection or a voice that echos your own during your battle with breast cancer or during your recovery. Where better can you find that without leaving the comfort of your couch than the hundreds of blogs out there?
Some of the biggest things we are proud to offer are support, guidance, knowledge, and awareness. We've said it before and we will say it again: finding your tribe and support group before, during, and after your treatment is imperative to your well being. You need love and support to help fight your battles, even if that just means sitting with a friend, bringing a family member to your treatments, or sharing your story with others. No matter what that looks like for you, make it your own and an important part of your life. There might even be some support and love found in places you never expected and from people you'll never meet. You can read all the books, pamphlets, and articles give to you by your doctor. But finding a voice that echoes your own is very important. It makes you feel heard, relatable, seen, and not alone.
Some of the best places to find this connection today is in the hundreds of blogs written by men and women who are or have been in your shoes, and by their family members. You don't have to go far to look for them, just from the comfort of your home on your phone or computer. We wanted to share some of the top blogs out there that deal with breast cancer on a multitude of topics. No matter where you are on your journey, you will find a voice for exactly what you need to read and hear. If these blogs don't speak to you, there will be one out there waiting for you.
My Cancer Chic
From the heart and pen of a young breast cancer survivor named Anna, comes My Cancer Chic. Anna was diagnosed at 27 and during her treatment, it was hard to find women to connect with that were age and going through the same thing she was. She created her blog to share her story to hopefully find others like her and a place to pour her passion for style and beauty into. She is now three years into remission and carries her mission statement of love, support, and fashion for all who need it.
To read Anna's blog, follow the link below:
Breast Cancer? But Doctor...I Hate Pink!
The tough as nails Ann Silberman is the author of this blog whose "never back down" motto shows in every post. Her to the point, honest, and truthful experiences give a real day to day insight into her treatments, therapies, and live victories she enjoys along the way. She's very open about her Stage 4 metastatic breast cancer and fills her blog with joy, humor, and grace. Her blog chronicles from the beginning of her experiences in 2009 to today.
To read Ann's blog, follow the link below:
Booby and the Beast
Writer Jen Campisano was diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer at 32 and started her blog to keep friends and family updated. When she beat her diagnoses, her blog turned its focus towards mothers needing help to handle their metastatic breast cancer diagnosis. She is a proud activist working hard to raise awareness, fighting to find a cure, and is currently writing a book.
To read Jen's blog, follow the link below:
Let us Be Mermaids
Written by Susan Rosen, she uses the unique and beautiful image of a mermaid to remind women fighting with metastatic breast cancer that just like mermaids, they are strong, sensual, feminine, and incredible beings. The blog and the comparison serve as a reminder that everyone is inspired and awed by their presence. She's finding beauty in a time when it's easy to lose that feeling.
To read Susan's blog, follow the link below:
The Breast Place
We want to make sure our followers and the beautiful women we work with know that we also have our own blog. We write two blog posts a month for our patients, friends, and those looking for comfort and information. Our blogs range from updates within our offices, to day to day life, and educational tidbits. They have a consistent thread of support and inspiration through them all.
To visit our blog, follow the link below:
You have a voice that needs to be heard. If you haven't found yours yet, we hope these blogs and these women help a little bit every day.
Breast cancer has never been a diagnosis that attaches itself to a particular age group or generation. Although it is most commonly found in women over the age of 50, there is still a high number of young men and women who are diagnosed every year. One of the scariest things? The tools to help with the diagnosis and to detect at an earlier age are still not up to par, nor do they help with diagnosis as well as one would hope. When it comes to awareness, it needs to begin at a young age and not be a topic or knowledge limited to anyone.
It's common for many women to not worry about the slightest possibility of breast cancer until they reach their 50th birthday, after starting regular mammograms around their 40th birthday. But for many young women, just starting families and very exciting careers, it's a different story. According to the Young Survival Coalition, "breast cancer in young women tends to be diagnosed in its late stages and is more aggressive. It is estimated that 12% of cases of breast cancer will be in women under the age of 40 and approximately 26,393 women will be under 45 years of age. Every year more than 1000 women under the age of 40 die from breast cancer." Some of these young women who are diagnosed are very healthy and come from a family never touched by breast cancer, so it can come as quite a shock to receive this information out of the blue. Which is why we have stressed in past blogs, that as soon as you can start educating yourself and understanding your body as a young woman, the better. Be aware of signs, symptoms, and what to look for. Learn how to give yourself self breast examinations, and never be quite if something seems out of the ordinary. Be proactive in mentioning anything to your doctor, and never let something go unsaid. They are there to help you with any step along the way. Women who do have family members who have been diagnosed need to be even more proactive, starting exams early and having mammograms as early as their mid 30's. It is also recommended to do the newest genetic testing available to test for the BRAC1 or BRAC2 gene mutation. If you test positive for either, it is more likely that breast cancer could be in your future. If so, become proactive as possible and learn to watch your body closely with your eyes and those of a professional.
Sadly, as common as breast cancer can appear in younger women, it still isn't a topic that is spoken about enough. This is why we want to spread more awareness on the topic and provide some eye-opening information. Please take all of this information to heart, and spread the awareness as much as you can. Care for yourself and the women around you. Share, support, and never be quite. We are here to help guide you through any of these steps.
The Facts and Diagnosis
How it Affects Younger Bodies and Lifestyles
We are here to also spread awareness and offer as much support and guidance as you need. Be aware that cancer will never discriminate based on age or sex, and that staying as educated and aware about your body is the best defense that you can have.
Awareness shouldn't and can't be reserved just for October. Let it be a daily thing, something you can practice with others, and find a path that works for you. As we end October, we wanted to add a little continuation to our last blog. You can do so much for those who are fighting their cancer battle, but there is so much that all parties can do to help themselves and the world at large.
We have been proud to celebrate Breast Cancer Awareness for all of October's 31 days. We have proudly been wearing pink, standing up strong with each of you, offering all the comfort and guidance that we could, and talking about how you can offer love and support to those fighting hard against breast cancer. We were very serious when we pressed that as important Breast Cancer Awareness month is, it's important to make this awareness an all year battle. This is a daily fighting for so many, and to conquer the battle, we have to fight and show awareness at every opportunity possible. Designating October to be Breast Cancer Awareness month has opened up the conversation about risk, education, the importance of getting a mammogram, breast health, and screening. Now that the conversation has started and continues to grow stronger every year, let's not lose the momentum!
Find your support group. For those fighting, surround yourself with what and who you need to keep going. Those who keep you inspired, keep you loved, and keep you fighting. If you are a woman who has just hit her 40th birthday, it's time to start getting a mammogram every year and doing regular self-breast examinations once a month. Self-breast examinations should become a practice in your life as soon as you hit puberty, and it needs to be a topic that can be discussed at any age. Find your tribe and support group who can start you off on a healthy and positive path towards your best breast health. Once you start giving yourself breast examinations and begin mammograms, make sure to take anything you find very seriously. Nothing should be ignored. Early detection leads to a very high rate of getting rid of any cancer cells.
If this is a scary path to walk alone, this is a good time to call on or to form your own group. One that can support you and hold you accountable. Find friends going through the same thing, lean on your mom, your grandmothers, aunts, and cousins. They'll be there. It is very important to take these steps as well if you come from a high-risk family. Take the steps to care for yourself because of those in your family who have been diagnosed, and with the possibility that you could be too. Those from high-risk families should start their screenings at 30 and return once a year.
You can also go beyond finding a support group. Find a doctor you trust and who allows you to make your breast health important to you. All of us at The Breast Place are here for you and your journey. Once you have started, don't stop. Inspire others, nurture those around you, and teach as many as you can. No matter your age, keep a support group and offer support to others if you can. The term bosom buddies has never applied better.
Head to Toe
Keeping your whole body healthy is just as important to your body as it is to your breast health. Regular exercise, a healthy sleep schedule, a healthy diet, maintaining a healthy weight, not smoking, and practicing limited alcohol consumption can seriously lower the risk of breast cancer. Practicing these things and setting an example for others, can be inspiring to those around you and in your own journeys.
Be a storyteller. Too many women have fought the battle against breast cancer, and every day we are getting closer to changing those numbers for the better. But your victories, hardships, setbacks, and triumphs need to be heard. You can listen to your doctors, teachers, the news, and any book out there. But the stories told by your peers and others who have been on the battlegrounds, are what will really stick with you. If you're not ready to or don't want to share your story, that's okay. But know that someone out there needs and wants to hear your story, and someone out there will always listen.
Be a fierce listener. If your loved one is going through this battle, don't fill a conversation with your experiences or opinions. Just give them your love and what they need to say your full attention. In reverse, if you need someone to talk to, surround yourself with those who will listen to you and respect what you have to say. This is an important part of your healing process, and you deserve it as much as anyone.
No matter what your journey is, you have so much to share. Once you win your battle, be there for those who need it. If you are fighting, find sturdy ground to lead to victory. We are here to always promote, fight, and support awareness and we will help you do so in any way we can.
As October comes to a close, breast cancer awareness doesn't and shouldn't stop. Go beyond wearing pink and honoring these brave men and women for just a month. Find ways to support and love them all year round.
Happy Mid October, everyone! We hope you're still wearing your pink proudly and have been taking this month to reflect and support those who are fighting, have fought, and continue to fight the battle against breast cancer. But once this month is over, you don't have to stop your efforts. Use this month and every month to spread awareness about this disease that affects 1 in 8 women and over 2500 men a year in the US. It's a difficult fact, but most of us know at least one person who has been affected by this disease. We want to help and do anything that we can for our loved ones, but sometimes words fall short. It can be hard sometimes to know the perfect things to say or do during times of diagnosis, treatment, and recovery. So, we wanted to share some tips with you on how you can support and love your loved ones as they start or continue through their journey. First, forget the pretense of perfect. Don't put that pressure on your loved one or yourself. Simple, honest things and actions from the heart always mean so much.
There is so much you can do, and even doing a little bit can go a long way. You can help your loved ones, and you can stand with them through their journey. We are here to help you stay strong, find your path, and continue your fight. We proudly wear pink for you this month and every month.
October is breast cancer awareness month. But for a survivor, it is every single day. Do you know the history behind the yearly observance and what happened before it officially started?
Happy October to our strong survivors, patients, friends, family members, and support groups. This month we will be standing together wearing pink to honor each of you. But before this yearly observance became a permanent staple in October, do you know how it was established and the history leading up to its creation? As we stand together, we wanted to share a little history of how we got to where we are today.
As you know, Breast Cancer Awareness Month is an international campaign observed through the month of October. Its focus is to increase global awareness about breast cancer. National Breast Cancer Awareness Month was created as a partnership between the American Cancer Society and the then Imperial Chemical Industry. The aim of the organization from the start has been to promote mammography as the best form of prevention against breast cancer. The purpose now is to increase awareness, to educate about the methods of early detection and prevention, and to raise money to continue research for a cure. But at the end of the day, it all goes beyond the month of October. It is truly about working towards prevention, education, and guaranteed treatment for everyone.
The very first organized effort to bring widespread attention to Breast Cancer happened as a week-long event in October of 1986. But the journey of awareness started long before that night in October 1986.
The 1980's came in with a rush of change along with a rush of sadness. After her three year battle, Susan G. Komen passed away at the age of 36. In 1982, the Susan G Komen Breast Cancer Foundation was started, and in 1983 the very first Race for the Cure was held in Texas with 800 participants. Today those numbers are in the millions, and races happen across the country. They passed out pink ribbons as a symbol for awareness at the Race for the Cure race in New York City in 1991. But the pink ribbon is something of a mystery of how it came to be the symbol it is today and who is credited with its creation.
Some credit it to Susan G. Komen, some to a woman named Charlotte Haley, and others to Evelyn Lauder. Charlotte Haley in the late 80's/early 90's started to pass out peach color ribbons to raise awareness for the lack of breast cancer funding and research after her sister, daughter, and granddaughter were all diagnosed. Evelyn Lauder, who in 1993 formed the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, along with SELF Magazine editor Alexandra Penney approached Haley to use the ribbon. She refused, saying both Estee Lauder and Self were just too corporate. These women approached their lawyers who suggested they change the color. So they took the peach ribbon and turned it pink. When the Breast Cancer Research Foundation was founded, Lauder stated the pink ribbon as its symbol. But this was two years after the Race for the Cure passed them out in 1991. No matter its origin, today it serves a symbol of survival, strength, and hope. We wear it proudly.
Since the creation of these powerful foundations, many other walks and events have been organized to raise awkwardness, education, and fund to continue research. This includes the three day Susan G. Komen 60 mile walk.
Every day your strength and your story adds to this history. Even though you and the journey you are on goes beyond this one pink month, we will continue to use it to spread awareness for you. We are here to support you, proudly stand by you, and to remind you that on this journey you are not alone.