PINKSPIRATION

This is a compilation of young breast cancer survivors providing mentorship and encouragement through their riveting experiences and testimonies of surviving breast cancer.

What is something you wish someone would have told you during your treatment?
  • Everyone experiences different symptoms. Some are more severe than others.
  • To buy things as you need them. I bought multiple wigs and bras in preparation. I didn’t even use half the stuff!
  • To make appointments with my team of doctors ASAP. Waiting for those appointments for information and for treatment to begin was very stressful.
  • Even though it seems like it’s going to be really traumatizing, losing your hair is not that big of a deal in the long run and wigs are easy, fun, and you don’t have to spend a lot of money to get decent ones.
  • I did not actually feel the chemo entering my body.
  • To expect new side effects even 4-5 weeks after chemo was completed
  • You won’t feel like it, but ANY amount of exercise you can muster is going to make it feel a little better. And don’t feel guilty about tuning out the world while you get through this.
  • I wish I knew about green smoothies or juicing. I had issues with taste and didn’t want to eat, but smoothies would have been a great alternative to eating solid foods
  • Make sure you eat super foods and alkaline water. I could only eat homemade veg soup.
  • I wish that someone would’ve warned me about the possibility of my nails turning black and falling off.
  • I wish someone would have mentioned that I would eventually loose taste in my mouth.
  • Think all the happy things that you’ve had.
  • I wish someone would’ve stressed the fact that everybody handles chemotherapy different. There is no need to begin the journey defeated and expecting the worse. Prepare, and be realistic, but know that it is possible to still find enjoyment in life during the process.
  • Would have been encouraging to have someone there to encourage and inspire me through my journey. Someone who had gone through it.
  • More about some of the side effects of the medications.
  • I wish there was someone who told me about how much your mental state is effected when going through breast cancer. It was so hard to keep my mind strong, focused, and it was just so hard to cope with everything going on.
What did you gain from your experience with breast cancer? How is it a part of your calling?
  • I’ve gained a new appreciation for the little things. No moment is too small. Not really sure at this point how breast cancer is a part of my calling.
  • I can overcome the fact that I only have one breast now. It has not stop me from doing God’s will. And that is encouraging others to fight the battle.
  • To be positive and friendly to the healthcare professionals who are there to help you. I try to smile more often and be friendlier no matter where I am. I am also taking a healthier approach to lifestyle choices.
  • I discovered the warrior woman in me.
  • I hope I’m more engagingly sympathetic, patient, kind, and engaging with people. I’m a health care provider also, so I want to have those qualities for my patients.
  • The beauty of life and the power of storytelling. Cancer is a gateway to an incredible testimony and a support system for others!
  • A whole new meaning to life, overcoming challenges, really appreciating my true friends and family members who were along for the ride.
  • Stay positive
  • I learned that having a screening mammogram is an absolute necessity for early detection of breast cancer. Equally important is self-exam. Of my three diagnoses, I discovered one during my own self-exam, and the other two were found on my regular mammograms.
  • I want to help others who are facing a similar journey process their own journey
  • Maybe what I’ve gained, is that you don’t HAVE to be the person who “became a better person” after having gone through it. You’re still you and it is not supposed to be some life-affirming, Zen experience.
  • I gained a better understanding of the healthcare system and how impactful it is. I now want to advocate on behalf of women, veterans and cancer patients when navigating through the process of dealing with an illness, especially in the VA.
  • I learned to really live! My goal is to make memories and live life to the fullest.
  • Mental toughness is essential. I teach women meditation technical. Reset the mind- reduces worry and anxiety.
  • Breast cancer showed me my “why”. It was the reason that I started Shay Sharpe’s Pink Wishes.
  • The one thing I gained from my experience is trust. Trusting in God’s healing power. I also gained an appreciation for the beauty of life!
  • I learned that life is not forever. So I have set my lifestyle to be simple life. Try not to think about things that you can’t change because it will only give you stress.
  • I gained a new lease on life after my experience. It was an early wake-up call that most people experience during the dreaded “mid-life crisis.” In turn, I have found professional employment raising funds and support for cancer research and medical education.
  • I learned how to trust and lean totally on God. God has called me to be a Life Coach. I coach breast cancer patients and survivors through and after their surgery, treatment and beyond. I thank God for the opportunity to give back.
  • Just a whole different outlook on life period. It showed me that some of the small things I tend to worry about are just that. It also showed me the importance of taking care of my health at all of the different phases in my life. Being active and healthy eating habits is not just about looking good. Also to just slow down and really truly ENJOY LIFE. Work isn’t everything. The most or important thing it did was teach me was that my Faith can be unwavering.
  • I’ve learned to have a lot patience with life and to have a great appreciation of it. I’ve learned to love others and I’ve spiritually grown a lot as well. I know that now I have to take life by the horns and take on any and all opportunities given and this also helps me to not be selfish when sharing my story with others because you never know who you may help, inspire, or motivate.
On treatment days, how did you pamper yourself?
  • After treatment I would shop. Mostly online but if I was up to it I would go out.
  • I bought books to read and pulled up Bible readings on my phone. Also looked at TV while relaxing.
  • I brought my kindle with me to treatment and did exactly what I felt like doing. I napped when I got home and then tried to stay occupied with something to keep my mind optimistic.
  • I always had a clean outfit, fun socks and a huge tub of chocolate that a friend made. I ate loads of snacks while at chemo that I brought.
  • Breakfast of a toasted sesame bagel slathered in cream cheese, topped with tomato and capers from my favorite deli just down the street from the doctor’s office 🙂
  • Bought a good set of noise-cancelling headphones, brought my cashmere pashmina, healthy snacks, and my laptop — binged ALL THE NETFLIX and go addicted to some podcasts.
  • There was no pampering involved.
  • I didn’t. I worked through my treatment. I had my chemo early in the morning and went to work after it was done.
  • I did massages and acupuncture for release of pain and center my body
  • On treatment days I would pack myself a healthy snack and cuddle with my favorite blanket. I would finish at home with a hot bath.
  • Look forward to have ice cream with friends.
  •  I continued with “life as usual” as much as possible. I had a trip to Jamaica planned along with a few others. I still went!
  • Junk food! While some will stick with the idea that you need to treat your body the best during chemo, I needed balance. While I did try to beef up my intake of fresh fruit, vegetables and water, I also indulged with Chic Fil A. A lot! If it made me happy, I did it.
  • By resting my mind and body. Thinking on good thoughts and the things and places I would do & see.
  • I would put on something that I felt super cute in. I believe if you look good you feel good.
  • On treatment days I always made sure I put on my favorite lipstick and if I didn’t do that I made sure I was at least dressed up just enough to make myself feel good, changing my attitude about getting treatment.
Who did you bring with you to chemotherapy? How did your caretaker support you?
  • I would bring my iPad, a blanket, warm socks, mints and water. My caretaker would help me set up all the things I had, get ice and put the bag on my hands and feet, and most times just their presence was enough.
  • My husband, daughter or son. Close to the end I came by myself. The caretakers were super nice.
  • I took more time pampering myself with baths and leisure time.
  • My husband always went with me–God bless him–he fed me, brought me water and iced my hands and feet when I got Taxotere. It was great emotional support to have him there.
  • My husband, mom, dad, mother in law, sister, and countless friends. They drove me, carried my bags, went to see the doctor with me, waited on me hand and foot, brought gifts, helped me to the bathroom with the IV on wheels.
  • Most of the time, my significant other. He picked me up, brought me to treatment, stayed with me and got anything I needed, including lunch, and then drove me to work. Then he picked me up after work.
  • Mostly, I preferred to come alone, and that was OK. Didn’t feel like chatting for hours but preferred to put on my headphones and do my thing. My boyfriend came sometimes, and the best thing he did for me was always keep me laughing — we had to mock the whole thing and keep laughing to get through. My daughter came too, and just her face kept me going.
  • My aunt brought me to my treatments. She was unable to provide much support other than driving me to and from treatment.
  • My husband would come when he could. He gave me a necklace to wear for the times he couldn’t come.
  • I went to mostly all of my chemo therapy appointments alone. I had a 9-year-old daughter to tend to, so I needed to care for her.
  • I mostly brought my husband with me during treatment. Also my mom and sister would join me from time to time. They were all very supportive and helped keep my morale up. They would pray with me daily and encourage me through the battle.
  • My husband. He gave me comfort and helped me to relax.
  • I brought my mother for one session, but only after I knew what to expect. Being their youngest child, it was an emotional toll on them. I didn’t want them to see me in that state until I knew, without a shadow of a doubt, that I could be strong enough for both of us. In the end, it was a great experience and I think my preparedness helped to make it less traumatic or shocking.
  • My mom and sister were the main ones who came with me. I also had a few friends come when they couldn’t make it. Even though I always fell asleep during treatment having someone there was nice. I didn’t like going by myself.
  • My 6 month old and my 28 months old. They were the best blessings and reminder that God had great purpose for my life. I was told I would never have children. God blessed me with two! I knew he had purpose for me & my life.
  • My Dad took me to ALL of my treatments! He didn’t sit with me all the time but him being there for every appointment meant so much to me.
  • Chemotherapy was never the same. One day I would have my parents, the next my friends or significant other at the time would come, even complete strangers sat with me. At that point I knew this journey was more than me. My caretaker was my mom and most days she was running around making sure I was fed, I had clean laundry, words of encouragement, and making sure I wasn’t pouting and complaining about anything.
What self-care practices did you implement to show yourself love through that time in your life?
  • Shopping, mediation and prayers.
  • Thinking positive. I was one who had it hard at the beginning, because the high dosage of Chemo made me very sick. But I had to think positive to keep going.
  • To rest when I needed to and to keep my regular exercise routine.
  • Lots of hot baths and lots of fresh fruit popsicles! Lots of reading happy books, watching funny videos on Netflix.
  • I was given a really nice wig and hat with hair and saw a dermatologist who helped me trouble shoot my skin issues from chemo. I took it easy most of the time and went for walks to stay active enough. Rest was important. When I lost my hair a friend cut it to a pixie cut and we had a pixie party. Another friend helped me shave the head bald.
  • I took time for myself as I recovered from surgery. I listened to inspirational music and uplifting speakers on CD. I engaged in my favorite hobby, which gave me a creative outlet and fed my soul.
  • Continue daily activities if possible.
  • Eating healthier. Letting others do things for me, which is hard for someone as independent as me.
  • No alarm clocks. Slept as late as my body needed every day. Luxurious bubble baths with candles and music helped on those bad days. Got manicures and pedicures regularly, and usually tried to put on makeup and cute outfits most days so I could keep feeling human.
  • I was intentional about dressing in a way that made me feel good. I also made sure I listened to positive news, music or podcast to maintain mental and emotional stability.
  • I read and meditated during that time.
  • Just make sure you look nice when you don’t feel like it. I went to Super Cuts when I didn’t have money to do anything else. Massages once a month if not twice a month.
  • I was much more careful about being around others in public places to avoid germs. I also maintained an alkaline diet high in fruits and vegetables.
  • Eating whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. I also gave myself permission to break down when I needed to. It didn’t happen often, but there were a few times where I found myself inconsolable, and once the moment passed, I picked myself up and kept moving forward.
  • I loved on my blessings (kids)and I allowed to love on me.
  • I did those things that I did prior to cancer that I knew worked for me and that I enjoyed doing. I still worked out, I still prepped my food and made healthy meals, and I spent lots of time with friends and family. In the past I was so busy with life I didn’t always spend the time that I should with them due to work.
  • Most times I would do my makeup, facials, prep smoothies, and dressing up in my routine because it always made me feel better.
How did you explain you had breast cancer to your children and family?
  • I told my 9-year-old that I had some bad tissue that the doctors had to take out.
  • My husband was my support. I was in remission for 25 years and it came back. I called my children together and had dinner and released the news to them.
  • I waited until I had all information available to me from the doctors so that I could answer all of their questions.
  • My kids are young adults so I didn’t need to sugarcoat it too much. I just told them that I was going to a have a little surgery to remove the breast cancer which was caught at an early stage and that I was going to be ok. My husband was with me when I diagnosed and I think it was harder on him than me.
  • Out of town family members and husband over the phone and to my children with books that explained what possibilities were and how to help. I also used an online tool that posted updated that I wrote about my daily doctor visits and updates.
  • Sat down and talked with them.
  • It was difficult to explain my diagnosis to my children when I was first diagnosed. They were 2 and 10 years old. Obviously, the two-year-old was not told anything about cancer. The 10-year-old was very concerned, as I had just lost a dear friend to the disease a few months before. I explained that every case of cancer is different, and each person is different. I told her that I had every confidence in my doctor and his staff and that I was going to recover and be well again soon.
  • I don’t have children. My original diagnosis was DCIS which my doctor explained was the best kind, if you have to have it. So when my significant other asked about my test results, I said “it’s the best kind of cancer you can have.” (It turned out to be something otherwise, but I didn’t know that until after lumpectomy path came back.)
  • I did it in phases — made a list of those I felt like I needed to tell, and the order in which I wanted to do it. Made a “tree” too — people I’d tell, and ask them to share with a sub list of other people so it wasn’t all on me. Daughter was 17 at the time, and I waited until I knew the whole diagnosis and treatment plan before I told her, so I could reassure her that yes I had cancer, but here was what we were going to do to get rid of it. Didn’t want her to be scared, but also she was old enough, I needed her to know, I was going to need her on my team too. Hardest part was telling my parents; told them when I could confidently relay the treatment plan and let them know they raised a strong girl who was OK and was going to handle it. They are older and dealing with their own serious health problems, so there is little they could do from afar and I didn’t want them to worry. My boyfriend — told him first. My confidante and partner — he was so scared, but we just talked about everything, included him in the game plan, and laughed as much as we could.
  • To those closest to me I made sure that they understood my circumstances and I told them all individually.
  • My husband took the lead and informed them.
  • We sat down and just talked but for smaller children Dr. Tonya Cole create a book for children
  • I simply told them. I didn’t sugar coat it or ease them into it. Just simply said it. No tears. Just regular conversation. There’s no handbook on properly being a cancer patient.
  • Initially I did not inform my three children. All they knew is that I had multiple surgeries. Eventually, my youngest son figured it out and I had to break the news to them. I informed 20 of my closest girlfriends by hosting a dinner at my house. I wanted to let everyone know all at the same time.
  • Just told my daughter that I have breast cancer and it will be fixed and I am not worried.
  • Unfortunately, I kept them in the dark through most of the diagnostic phases and didn’t share with them until I had a definitive answer. The radiologist had the results from my biopsy and asked me to bring someone with me to the visit. At that point I knew, and had to give my mom a really quick rundown and have her meet me at the office. So, we found out together. From there, we drove home and she told my father and two brothers.
  • My sister and I called and told people together. I told the main people at work and let them know it was ok to share.
  • With my family and friends, I was very blunt with them because I was so secure in knowing that God had everything taking care of. I didn’t sugar coat anything or allow them to feel sad for me. I was in a very good place with it so after they realized that, they realized that they could treat me the same as they did prior to cancer. To keep them informed I sent out weekly updates via email that were detailed in how I felt and what phase I was in. I also started a blog to keep people updated as well as educational pieces to it.
  • My family didn’t believe me at first, so I told them how I found out, briefly explained my diagnosis, and ensured them that there was no age factor involved.
How did you let work know about your diagnosis? Were they supportive in you taking days off?
  • After I had the biopsy I let my boss and a close friend that works with me know. Once I had a plan of action in place I provided that information to them. My job has been very supportive of my taking days or a few hours off.
  • I have business partners and I told them together in a meeting. Then, one of them told our staff about me when I was out of the office. I didn’t want to tell the staff- it was emotional. My partners and my staff have been an integral part of my support network. I’ve had to take two straight months of work off, then have only been able to work part time during treatment. I could not have done it without their support.
  • In a one-on-one meeting with my manager. Absolutely, they were completely and utterly supportive.
  • I told my administrator first, and she was very supportive. I told my closest friends at work and they let others know, as appropriate. They sent many cards and messages in support of my family and me as I recovered.
  • I told him the truth right up front. I started a new job on October 25 and was diagnosed on October 31. They have been extremely supportive which is a huge blessing.
  • I am self-employed, but associated with a small firm. They were super supportive in throwing work my way when I felt up to it, and holding off when I couldn’t. In retrospect, I wish I had just gone on disability and hadn’t tried miserably to get a few things accomplished here or there. But, part of me needed to still feel useful and normal, and as a self-employed person, part of me felt like if I dropped off everyone’s radar for too long, when I did come back, I would lose the contacts and connections.
  • Initially I only told one person and they have been extremely supportive throughout the process. I eventually opened up to others and the support was phenomenal. They allowed me the space I needed to go through treatment by minimizing my work expectations.
  • My work and boss were extremely supportive!
  • They were very support. Did light duty just 15-20 per week. Then during radiation, it was 25 hours. One doctor released I went to full time.
  • I told my job immediately upon finding out about my diagnosis. The following week I went out on long term disability for 13 months. After returning to work, I required lots of time off, which almost got me fired.
  • I approached my boss at the time and told her about my diagnosis. I asked her to keep it confidential at first. But when I finally took the long leave of absence, my boss made the announcement at work. Everyone was so supportive! They sent flowers, called me regularly and even donated their ETO time to me. I took a break from work for about 5 months before I returned.
  • Called my boss and he support me very well. He told me that I can take as many days I want.
  • My employer was incredibly supportive. I told one colleague once I got the news, and she relayed the news as appropriate. They were gracious with scheduling and found little ways to offer support throughout the process.
  • Work was very supportive. I was given the space to heal and recover.
  • I wasn’t working at the time. I had been laid off after a 28 year career with IBM.
  • My job was my work family. Both jobs. I was personal training at the time and working retail. I took a break from training which they were perfectly ok with. After I was done with the hard stuff I went right back. My retail job, I kept working the whole time. As long as I was feeling good I went. If I happened to go in and they saw I was extremely tired they let me go home or take a break. My jobs were one of the biggest things to keep to make me feel as normal as possible. They were super supportive.
  • I told my job that I had breast cancer, after my first treatment I went back to work but they knew that it would probably be best that they let me go so that I could heal properly and they were very supportive of any decisions I made of coming back or resigning completely.
Were there any products you liked for your skin and hair with your body changing?
  • Cetaphil lotion and body cleansers, dove soap, palmers body oil and Carmex.
  • I used Rosemary shampoo on my bald head and Coco butter over my skin.
  • Shea butter
  • I use Egyptian Magic balm on my face, neck and hands. Got it at Costco. I use Brian Joseph chemo shampoo and my usual conditioner on my almost completely bald scalp. I think it’s helpful to keep your scalp clean and soft to avoid folliculitis. I used Brian Joseph eyelash gel on my eyelashes and eyebrows and managed to keep some of them, but the Taxotere causes so much tearing, that I’m not sure how effective it’s been for the long run. I didn’t lose nails, but they are thin and I kept them very short.
  • During radiation, the facility provided a special lotion for my skin, but I do not know the name of it.
  • Dry shampoo, lotion, cough drops, mouthwash, protein shakes, soft tooth brush, oatmeal baths.
  • I have sensitive skin so I made sure to use lotions geared for that. Eucerin, NuSkin, etc.
  • SUPER moisturizers for my face and lips, eyes (Pevonia Botanica creams, SkinCeuticals hydrating mask for face and neck, SUGAR tinted lip treatment, Allastin eye treatment). Professional grade scar treatment therapy for my scars (Strataderm). Used bronzer on my face with makeup because I was so pale and didn’t want to look so sick (Bare Minerals).
  • I think herbal specialist is the best way and looking at your blood to see what’s lacking. I couldn’t have done it without them.
  • Eucerin
  • Protect your scalp (Sunscreen/Head covering)
  • Avoid chemicals such as relaxers & permanent hair color
  • Massage hair nightly with natural oils
  • Use herbal hair cleansers and conditioners
  • Use a satin or silk scarf
  • Focus on thyroid boost with natural remedies such as kelp and Irish moss
  • I developed outbursts of itchy skin. Out of nowhere, it would feel as if I had stepped on an ant bed. After bathing, the minute I put lotion on, I began to itch. I would immediately have to get back in the shower to remove the product and calm my skin. Thankfully, a woman at my church had concocted a cream in her kitchen and gave me some to try. To this day, that was the only product I was able to use during treatment that provided relief.
  • I loved Aveda! All of their products were great
  • Aquaphor and Vitamin E.
  • There aren’t any that I can think of that were my go to for my skin or hair. I actually shaved all of my hair before it all fell out and rocked it naturally that way until it started to grow back. Being bald was my favorite style to date!
  • My last day of treatment all of my friends and family came and filled the treatment room. We also went to dinner, laughed, cried, and shared stories, most importantly celebrating that the chemotherapy was over.
How did you celebrate your last day of treatment?
  • It hasn’t gotten here yet, but I think I will go dancing!
  • My husband took me out to lunch to celebrate.
  • Went to my favorite yoga class!
  • Well, I still have to have infusions every 3 weeks through the year’s end with Herceptin and Perjeta, so I don’t really feel “through”. I’m just grateful to be done with the chemo so I can start eating more varied foods!!! I’ll celebrate more at the end of the year, I guess!
  • I got to ring a bell and flowers were given to me and a month later I walked the Komen walk with a team of 50 friends and family members. I raised over 1000 $ and really got so much out of that walk because it empowered me more than I thought It would.
  • Haven’t had yet, but I am going to party.
  • My last day of radiation was over 26 years ago! I do not remember that day now! LOL
  • It is tomorrow (final of year of Herceptin) — last day of chemo, you’ll need to remember you’re still going to go through your back post-chemo weeks, and you will have months of recovery you weren’t expecting. Then I had radiation. After all that, was Christmas, so it was just nice to be with family and relax and start getting some hair back. After my port comes out next week? Just be glad to be “normal” again. People will ask you, are you going to take some fabulous vacation to celebrate? And I have to remind them of the financial toll it took on me too. I’m just taking in the world around me in deep breaths now — leaves on a tree blowing in the breeze, a beautiful piece of music, avoiding the “noise” in the world that brings anxiety and chaos, and trying to be peaceful and mindful now
  • I went to lunch and did the Susan G. Komen walk the next day.
  • My entire family went out to eat and declared a “live pink” day.
  • I just did a cheer and rung the bell. I asked all nurses to help. Created a skit too.
  • I didn’t.
  • I celebrated my last day with family. My mom, sister and hubby bought balloons. I later took a 10-day tour of Italy with my husband.
  • Rung the bell. My body was so hurt I can’t do anything.
  • Due to really adverse side effects, on the day of my second to last treatment, my oncologist and I decided to cease further treatment. So, I didn’t know that my “last” treatment was going to be my last. Nonetheless, my care team came out and hugged me and provided me with a certificate of completion.
  • Praying and rejoicing with my kids.
  • I actually had an old friend that is a news anchor for Fox is Philly and she had been keeping up with my story via Facebook. She sent me a message and wanted to connect me with the Fox News station here. So for my final chemo, they came out and recorded it and talked to me about my journey. It was such a blessing being able to share with thousands of people that watch the news. That was a HUGE deal for me!
  • My last day of treatment all of my friends and family came and filled the treatment room. We also went to dinner, laughed, cried, and shared stories, most importantly celebrating that the chemotherapy was over.

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