The sun was shining brightly, such a pretty spring day. It was May 14th, 2014.
It turned out to be the worst day of my life.
I was diagnosed with invasive ductal carcinoma at the age of 32. Breast cancer. I could not do anything without sobbing. My friends and family didn’t know what to say. I was literally sick with worry over my fate.
I turned to the internet. I needed to know what to expect. All I kept repeating was, “I just don’t want to die.” The internet, combined with my mental state at the time, told me I was. Breast cancer forums were filled with horror stories. Mastectomy mess-ups, to mouth sores, to nails lifting off the nail bed and falling off during chemo. All I seemed to be able to find, while looking at a computer screen through cloudy, red, cry-eyes, were stories and warnings which filled me with paralyzing fear.
Until I came across Rethink Breast Cancer.
I quickly started watching YouTube videos by Rethink. I remember watching Tips for Coping with Chemotherapy first. This beautiful, young survivor appeared and told me I was going to be cold, that I might want to eat popsicles and I should wear a comfy outfit for my time in “the chair.” I stopped sobbing and paid attention.
Next I watched The Power of Journaling. I started journaling, and it felt so therapeutic to express all my emotions in this way. I recently looked back on my journal, and though it is sad to read how desperate I felt at the time, I’m happy to reflect on how far I’ve come this past year.
My doctors encouraged me to have a goal for the end of treatment. Something to look forward to. Mine was a trip to Mexico. I had one breast, little to no hair, and felt drained… but I was going. It was when I watched a video on modifying my swimsuit to hold my prosthesis from Rethink that I considered how I might help.
I applied to a casting call and was offered the phenomenal opportunity to give back through Rethink with their Beauty Tips and Tricks for Women with Breast Cancer video series. I was absolutely beyond honoured to be part of the series. To stand in front of the camera, tell my story, and perhaps help someone struggling with confidence due to their appearance during/after treatment was a full-circle moment for me.
It turns out the internet was wrong. I wasn’t going to die. I had stage 1 breast cancer. I didn’t have mouth sores, my nails did not fall off and my mastectomy scar looks like a smiley face! I found a resource called Rethink Breast Cancer. I was offered peer support, links to counselling services, informative videos relating to each stage of treatment, and made a network of supportive people I can now call friends.
The internet was very wrong.