One of the best things we can do as a support group is to tell your stories. You have so much to share with those walking and struggling along a similar path, and no story is stronger than one told by those who need to tell it.
Happy February friends, fellow survivors, and fellow fighters. This month is usually one that celebrates love with candy hearts, cards, and enough rom-com films to drive you crazy. Red, pink, and white everything cover every surface of every drug store, department store, and grocery store that you walk into. But we are no strangers to the color pink. It's not just a color of love and Hallmark Holidays. It's a color of strength, fortitude, determination, and power. It's the color of battle and the color of remembrance. Valentine's Day is just one day, but love is something that should be celebrated in all forms every day. Love is something that keeps us fighting and gives us a reason one way or the other to get up and out of bed and to keep moving. Leave the candy and the cards behind, and let love carry you through all day every day. Don't let one day get you down, let it buoy you in remembering that love and determination are always with you.
In celebration of that idea, we are so excited to open up a new chapter in our blogs. If you have been following us on Instagram and Facebook (which, if you haven't yet, you should!) then you are probably familiar with our posts dedicated to #SurvivorSunday, and asking you to share your survivor stories with us. These are your stories to tell, and no one can tell them better than you. Now that we have had some incredible individuals share their stories with us, we will be dedicating some of our blogs to these people and the stories they have to tell.
We are so very excited to share our very first survivor story with you, and this extraordinary woman might look very familiar. We are honored to share with you the story of Savanna James, who was recently crowned Miss Summerville and will be going on to compete in the Miss South Carolina Pageant later this summer. Her platform is "Breast Cancer Awareness and Prevention." How incredible is that? Her story is unique. It is a story about being a high-risk survivor. We are so proud to share her story because she represents more than half of our patient population. We excited to have her as an advocate for awareness and early detection. We are also very thrilled to announce that she will be apart of our team this summer, and will be a part of several upcoming events. Please keep your eyes and calendars open for that.
Without further ado, we turn this blog over to Savanna James, so she can tell you her story.
"Being 24, I genuinely believed that my "adult" life was just getting started. I had moved to Charleston and started working as Vice President of East West Gem Co. I grew up acting and doing pageants, and even though I knew breast cancer was heavy in my family, I didn't think anything could affect me this early. Unfortunately, this reality was shattered at my yearly OBGYN appointment. I was referred to the Breast Place immediately. After meeting with Dr. Beatty, I was advised that it would be in my best interest to have a double mastectomy. The decision to move forward was not easy, especially at my age, but it is one I am very thankful that I was able to make. I have watched several family members suffer and ultimately pass away from breast cancer. I chose to compete for Miss Summerville, sharing my story, because there are so many people who are unaware that they might be living in the shadow of cancer. It is my hope that others will hear my story and seek help, feeling comforted in knowing that they have options. I do not feel like any less of a woman for going through with the procedure. I honestly feel empowered that I was able to make a strong choice, one that could ultimately save my life. As Miss Summerville, and as Savanna, I hope that others hear my story and are influenced to be proactive, get checked yearly and to do self-checks. At 24, I stand with the 1 in 8.
Dr. Beatty and The Breast Place fully supported Savanna’s decision to undergo a prophylactic mastectomy. This decision is huge and personal. It should be thought out by each individual who may be facing it with education and research to understand the risks and benefits of undergoing a major surgery. A mastectomy can be life changing as it alters the appearance of the body you have known from birth and the decision to undergo one with or without reconstruction should not be taken lightly. Dr. Beatty encourages everyone in a similar position to research the pros and cons of surgery and understand that reconstructive surgery can be difficult but beautiful. Here at The Breast Place, we support our patients making decisions that are best for them as an individual as healthcare is not “one size fits all.
Breast cancer doesn't choose who it claims. A pageant queen, a mother, a doctor, a sister, a friend, it doesn't matter. What does matter is exactly what Savanna shares, and that is to be aware and stay on top of your health. Take control and take your yearly checkups and self check-ups seriously. At just 24, she made a powerful decision, that although scary, empowered her and gave her the power of taking a step in her battle against cancer. We hope that Savanna's story does give you hope to seek help and take comfort in the fact that there are always options available to you. We are very grateful that Savanna found comfort and help with us, and we hope that if you're looking for the same, you know that our doors are always open to you. Don't live in the "shadow of cancer", but come out into the sun.
Thank you so much for sharing your story with us Savanna. We are so excited to see where your journey takes you, and to continue working with you in the future. We would also love to hear YOUR stories and to share your experience to comfort and inspire others. If you would like to share, email us your story and a photo of yourself to firstname.lastname@example.org and you may be featured on our social media or in an upcoming blog post.
Remember, don't let Cupid's arrow get you down, and don't let it pop a hole in your sails. Love is something that we celebrate daily, and something we celebrate with you daily. Your journey is a daily struggle. It's hard, messy, scary, and frustrating. Remember that you have a place you are always welcome, and please know you are never alone.
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.