The WILDFIRE Team
April Johnson Stearns. Diagnosed at 35. IDC, stage IIIb, HER2+, ER/PR-. April grew up on a 43-acre Christmas tree farm with horses, chickens, dogs, cats, and a couple of co-conspirators in the form of younger brothers. The closest neighbor was a half-mile away. Like most who don't know what they have till it's gone, she spent her teen years desperate to be “normal” and live in a town. Now she lives with her husband and young daughter on the coast of California in a real-life town where she can see and hear her neighbors almost all the time, but she can also ride her bike down to the beach at a moment's notice to watch the sunset. Although she does love town life, she also likes to get away from all the hustle and bustle whenever she can to hike in the woods.
Hannah Tomlinson. Diagnosed at 26. DCIS, Stage II, ER+, PR+. Hannah was diagnosed with Stage II breast cancer in April 2016, after finding a small lump almost by accident. After a lumpectomy, radiotherapy and hormone therapy, Hannah was given the all-clear in October 2016 and remains in remission. Now on a journey back to health, she is focusing on nutrition, yoga, mediation, self care, and complementary therapies such as reiki, acupuncture, essential oils and reflexology. A graphic designer and art director for the last 5 years, Hannah has recently taken up pottery (originally as a creative outlet whilst off sick from work, now a growing passion) and her goal is to train as a yoga teacher and reiki master in the next few years to supplement a freelance nomadic lifestyle.
Sarah Gee. Sarah has no personal history of breast cancer but, like many others, has seen and supported close friends through diagnosis and treatment. A project manager, writer and editor, Sarah is predominantly based in the UK, though this year has begun the start of new adventures and a more nomadic way of working as she chases the sunshine around the world! Sarah loves spending time in the hills or by the sea, ideally with her lazy greyhound Alan and, whilst indoors, can be found baking up a storm, reading, happy-crying at old films or practising yoga.
Shana Rains. Diagnosed at 26. Stage IIIb, IDC, ER+. Shana is both a breast cancer & complex regional pain syndrome survivor. She has undergone 30+ cancer related surgeries with a few still to go. She dedicates as much of her time as possible to counseling others with chronic pain diseases and disorders and those who are at high risk of developing breast or ovarian cancer. She loves being outdoors, when possible, especially with her poodle, Lu, and chihuahua, Cosita. She also loves trivia nights, reading anything thought provoking, watching foreign films, vintage tees, travel, and any music that makes you want to dance!
WILDFIRE Magazine is reader-generated. Our writers, photographers, and illustrators are our heart and soul, and for them we are so grateful.
Rebecca Adam. Mom, MBC advocate, and autism advocate. Diagnosed at 37. Stage IV de novo, ER+, PR+. I was diagnosed at 37 and the next day my son was diagnosed with possible autism. I was de novo at the time, which means I was diagnosed Stage IV from the very beginning. I had extensive ets that were extremely aggressive. Everybody's different and there are many different subtypes so treatment and effects vary. I now have osteoarthritis from head to toe, fibromyalgia, the beginning of rheumatoid arthritis -- all because of the side effects of treatment. I've also had to have many treatments including cortisone shots and epidurals, both lumbar and cervical. All this from the treatments. I say this here because this side of cancer is not often shown in the media. They show pretty pictures of how easy it is. I've had many blessings come from this but it's not easy! It's like putting your life on fast forward so you can live as many moments positively and happy as possible! That comes moment-by-moment. One regret I have is that when I was diagnosed, I wanted more children. Freezing my overies or any talk of future fertility did not happen. Vol 3, Issue 1: (IN)FERTILITY.
Summer Adcock. Educator, Writer, Wife, and Mother. Diagnosed at age 31. Stage II, ER+, PR+, HER2-. I'm Summer: wife to Jared and mother to two young sons, Max and Brewer. At age 31, I was blindsided with a stage 2 breast cancer diagnosis. I had discovered a lump in my right breast by chance...it was noticed only after I sustained a minor seatbelt injury to my chest in a car accident. With no family history, I was confident that it was a benign lesion. I'll never forget the day my doctor told me otherwise. After multiple surgeries, intense chemotherapy, and radiation, I am in remission and navigating the complexities of life post-cancer. Despite the difficulty my disease caused, I have chosen to thrive, relying on God and delighting in my many blessings. Formerly an English teacher, I now enjoy staying home with my sons, writing professionally, and various artistic endeavors. Vol 2, Issue 1: LOVE; Vol 2, No 3: NEW NORMAL. @summyfromtheblog and summyfromtheblog.wordpress.com and email: summer.adcock at gmail.com
Nalie Agustin. Blogger. Diagnosed age 24. Stage IIB, ER+, PR+, HER2-. Diagnosed age 27. Stage IV. I am a Scorpio from Montreal, Canada with a degree in Communication & Cultural Studies. I started blogging in 2013 when I was diagnosed with breast cancer at only 24 years old. Writing became my therapy, and as my stories began to inspire people around the world, it turned into my passion. Having cancer was life-changing! But I didn’t want it to change ME: the fun, active, social person, full of energy that I was known to be. Vol 1, Issue 1: PHOENIX; Vol 2, Issue 1: LOVE @nalieagustin and nalie.ca
Melissa Swadley Allbritten. Executive assistant, part-time student, mom. Diagnosed at 40. Stage I, ER+, PR+, then Stage IV. In December of 2016 at age 40, I was diagnosed with IDC of 1 cm in the right breast, and DCIS in the left. In March of 2017 we realized it was all over my bones, so I was probably Stage IV from the beginning. I am busy working full-time, going to school part-time, and raising 2 really awesome kids. I live in North Texas with my husband, kids and cats. I spend most of my free time reading, playing games and watching Brendan Fraser movies. I love to laugh and I love people, especially the unusual ones. Stay positive, and don't let the fear of tomorrow steal your joy today. Vol 3, Issue 2: MENTAL HEALTH email: melissa.allbritten at yahoo.com
Michele Bonacorte. Co-founder / photographer of Beautiful Self Inc. mother of two big boys, and spokesperson on QVC. No personal history of breast cancer. My 20 + year friendship with Jillian Veran-Rezo and her breast cancer diagnosis lead me to my true passion the creation of Beautiful Self. I use my vast experience as a fashion model to encourage the women of our project to be themselves in front of the camera. Our specialized photo therapy session captures the joyful emergence of self, while professing my artistic vision of the liberated face of cancer. I am a dedicated advocate of support and aftercare being a missing link to healing. Vol 3, Issue 2: MENTAL HEALTH @micheleavision and email: info at beatifulself.org
Bionic Boobies. Blogger, doula, cancer coach. Diagnosed age 46. Stage IIb, Triple Negative (ER-, PR-, HER2-). "BB,” who has chosen to preserve her secret identity for now (and is not, for better or worse, the porn star who also goes by the name Bionic Boobies) lives with her husband along side the Monarch butterflies and Humpback whales of the California Monterey Bay Sanctuary. Prior to her cancer diagnosis in August 2015, she could more often than not be found behind the lens of a camera, hanging out with her daughter, or at the side of women in labor, helping them to bring their sweet babes Earth-side. She is currently developing a business to provide transformative small-group retreats and personalized support for women fighting breast cancer and their care-givers. Vol 1, Issue 1: PHOENIX; Vol 1, Issue 3: NEW NORMAL Rest In Peace. BB passed away in 2017.
Tracey Brown. University Event Coordinator. Diagnosed at age 32. IDC, Stage III, ER-, PR-, HER2- (Triple Negative). My name is Tracey, I'm 32 and I'm in a 8-year relationship with my partner Steven. I live by the beach in the north of England, UK. We have a beautiful 6-year-old boy named Kieran. I work on conferences and events within a university. We both work full time and love family holidays, trips to the cinema and meals out. On 22 July 2016 I was diagnosed with breast cancer, after suspecting a 12mm tumor I had a lumpectomy with 3 lymphnodes removed. I discovered it was actually 9cm and therefore I needed a full mastectomy on my left side with reconstruction 1 year later. The tumor is now removed however a CT scan showed I still have a suspect lymphnode. I would have preferred this to be removed as well however the operation would be difficult as the lymphnode is under a muscle so it will be monitored through chemotherapy. I will undergo 6 rounds of chemotherapy (3 FEC and 3 TAX) and then radiotherapy. Hopefully I can also get this lymphnode removed if it bears no signs of improvement. Vol 1, Issue 6: FERTILITY AFTER BREAST CANCER @faith.for.the.future and mysurvivalstoryweb.wordpress.com and email: traceyloisbrown at gmail.com
Cathy Gigante-Brown. Writer. Diagnosed at 53. IDC, Stage I. I had a mastectomy, chemo and am on Evista. At 58, I’m not “young” but I like to think I am young at heart. I write fiction, non-fiction and poetry. My works have appeared in a bunch of publications, both online and print, including Industry, The Establishment, The Huffington Post, Essence and Ravishly (where I documented my breast cancer journey with dozens of essays). Several of my scripts have been produced by small, independent film companies. My novels The El, its sequel The Bells of Brooklyn, and Different Drummer are published by Volossal (DD was finished while I was still on chemo). I’m a Brooklyn native, where I still live with my husband and son. Vol 3, Issue 3: BODY. @cathygigantebrown
Allie Brudner. Breast cancer survivor - she was diagnosed with Stage II triple negative breast cancer, a few weeks after her 28th birthday and two months after her wedding. After 8 rounds of intensive chemotherapy, a double mastectomy, radiation and preventative oral chemotherapy - Allie is so lucky to say she is cancer free! During her treatment, she knew that she would channel her energy into helping other young women affected by cancer. Since her diagnosis, she co-founded a nonprofit organization, "The Breasties," dedicated to supporting young women affected by breast and ovarian cancer through community and friendship. The Breasties organization hosts free wellness retreats and events (social, wellness, and educational) for previvors, survivors and caregivers. The mission is to build an all-inclusive community of support, connect women with shared experiences together, and to raise awareness about the prevalence of breast and ovarian cancer in young women. In addition, Allie is working alongside a close friend and ovarian cancer survivor, to create a line of fashionable, fun headscarves for women who experience hair loss during chemotherapy treatment. Allie is also dedicated to raising funds for cancer research at the hospital that saved her life through Memorial Sloan Kettering’s annual Cycle for Survival events. Allie received her Bachelor’s Degree from Penn State University and her Master’s Degree from New York University. She also works as a speech language pathologist and adjunct professor at New York University. Vol, 3 Issue 4; CAREGIVERS. @ajbrudner and www.thebreasties.org.
Doña Bumgarner. Blogger. Diagnosed age 42. Stage II, HER2+, ER/PR-. Doña lives on the Central Coast of California with her partner and their 4-year-old daughter, along with a collection of cats and chickens. She’s a maker, most often with words and paint, but sometimes also with food, glue, glitter, or yarn. She’s finished chemo and surgery, but still has radiation and several more months of Herception infusions ahead of her. She blogs about self care and creativity at her blog, Nurtured Mama. Vol 1, Issue 1: PHOENIX; Vol 1, Issue 4: PARENTING WITH CANCER @donab and nurturedmama.net
Jamie Burchfield. Diagnosed at age 34. IDC, Stage IV. ER+, PR+. Jamie lives in the panhandle of Florida with her 8-year-old son, Neko and their two pitbulls. She also has an 18-year-old daughter, Kaia, who is a freshman in college. Jamie spends her retirement days on the beach, walking and biking the local trails, and spending time with her friends and family. She also stays busy through her advocacy work with METUP as well as her longtime hobby of making tie dyes. When she isn't enjoying her new home on the Gulf Coast, Jamie enjoys traveling all over the USA attending conferences, concerts, and seeing the world. Vol 1, Issue 5: MBC: YOUNG & STAGE IV email: Jamielburchfield at gmail.com
"Cancer Confessions." Designer. Diagnosed at 27. IDC, Stage II, ER+, PR+. Diagnosed at 34, Stage IV. Preferring to remain anonymous, Cancer Confessions was born out of the need for an outlet after a devastating recurrence of Stage IV breast cancer 6 years out from an original Stage II diagnosis. Writing about life with metastatic disease, Cancer Confessions chronicles hard truths, heartbreaks, silver linings, stupid comments and snarky comebacks when warranted. Vol 3, Issue 2: MENTAL HEALTH @cancerconfessions
Jeannine Canino-Bieda. Diagnosed at age 36. IDC, stage Ib, ER+, PR+. (Diagnosed with no family history.) Jeannine lives in the Chicagoland area with her husband of 8 years, Joe. She has worked in the financial industry for 17 years. Once she was diagnosed, she was approached by a local hospital to help with their breast cancer campaign, which included writing blogs for their newsletter. She found writing was very cathartic & found a real love for it. She parted ways with the hospital after a couple years & since has made a couple videos on her own, specifically about DBT (dense breast tissue) which is the reason why her cancer was missed by a mammogram. She is very passionate about educating & letting everyone know that even though mammograms save lives, they don't necessarily work for everyone. This is not a one size fits all kind of disease therefore screening shouldn't be either. Knowledge is power! Vol 1, Issue 6: FERTILITY AFTER BREAST CANCER @Jcanino29 and email: Jcanino at comcast.net
Lisa Cannon. Photographer & entrepreneur. Diagnosed age 27. IDC, stage III. Diagnosed age 30. Stage IV. Lisa is a 32-year-old from Central Illinois diagnosed with stage III Invasive Ductal Carcinoma in November 2011 when she was only 27-years-old. After undergoing a bilateral radical mastectomy and multiple rounds of chemotherapy and radiation, the mother of two and founder of her own photography and stationary design business (Lisa Lu Designs), learned in July 2014 that she had stage IV metastatic breast cancer that had spread to her liver and spine. Even though her cancer journey has not been an easy one, Lisa has remained positive through it all. To combat jitters, Lisa dances before each chemotherapy treatment and shares her experiences through social media. Vol 1, Issue 2: LOVE; Vol 1, Issue 5: MBC: YOUNG & STAGE IV; Vol 1, Issue 6: FERTILITY AFTER BREAST CANCER @lisaludesigns and lisaludesigns.com Rest In Peace. Lisa passed away in 2017.
Megan-Claire Chase. Blogger, motivational speaker, cancer advocate. Diagnosed at 39. ILC, Stage II, ER+, PR+. Megsie is a breast cancer warrior, and it has been one year seven months since she was declared NED (no evidence of disease). She was diagnosed with Stage IIA Invasive Lobular, ER+/PR+ and HER2- in September 2015 and finished active treatment two days before her 40th birthday in 2016. She was medically induced into menopause in February 2017 due to complications with post treatment. She has a media, marketing and theatre background. Megsie is a true STEEL magnolia in every sense of the word and a single girl living in Atlanta, GA. She has a cat, Nathan Edgar, who IS her child. Vol 3, Issue 2: MENTAL HEALTH warriormegsie.com and @warriormegsie and email: meganclairec at gmail.com
Melanie Childers. Resilience coach. Diagnosed at 34. Stage II, IDC, ER+, PR+. Melanie is a Martha Beck Certified resilience and leadership coach, Co-Founder of TheUnderbelly.org, activist, yogi, writer, and spiritual badass. She loves Thai food, empowering progressive women to run for office, and rocking out with the music way too loud. Vol 3, Issue 1: (IN)FERTILITY. theenlighenedbadass.com and @theenlightenedbadass
Béatrice Compagnon. Co-founder of Boobytrapp. Diagnosed at 37. DCIS, Stage I, ER+, PR+. After 15 years in the video games industry, a breast cancer diagnosis made Béatrice rethink her career choices. Inspired by her experience, she envisioned an app that she wished existed whilst in treatment. Now she is working on making Boobytrapp a reality and hoping to help young breast cancer patients find each other and connect easily. Vol 3, Issue 3, BODY. @theda38 and boobytrapp.io
Christine Corrigan. Writer. Diagnosed at 49. IDC, Stage I, Triple Positive. Chris lives in Basking Ridge, New Jersey with her husband, 3 children and Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. She survived cancer twice (and a legal career!). A freelance writer, she has a memoir in progress about her experiences as a teen survivor of Hodgkin’s lymphoma and as a breast cancer survivor. Her work has been published at Purple Clover, Racked.com, Living Beyond Breast Cancer, and the Human Rights Forum. When she’s not writing, she’s working in her garden, reading, meditating, or cooking. Take joy in the everyday moments; that’s what life is made of! Vol 3, Issue 3: BODY. @CPCorrigan2 and @cpcorrigan
Anna Crollman. Blogger, breast cancer survivor, and writer specializing in wellness, beauty and style content. Diagnosed at age 27. IDC, Stage II, Triple Positive (ER+, PR+, HER2+). Anna using her compelling experience of facing a life threatening disease in her 20s to support and inspire young women to thrive in the face of adversity with strength, confidence and style. She is the founder, and writer behind MyCancerChic.com and the North Carolina State Leader and support group coordinator for Young Survival Coalition. Vol 3, Issue 2: MENTAL HEALTH mycancerchic.com and @mycancerchic and email: mycancerchic at gmail.com
Marianne Duquette Cuozzo. Artist advocate, mother, and dreamer. Diagnosed with cancer 3 times: Hodgkins Lymphoma at 28 and 32, breast cancer at 49. Stage II, DCIS, ER+. My 24-year battle with 3 cancers has made me rely on my sense of hope, resiliency and humor. My art has been my saving grace... art is therapy and therapy is art. Vol 3, Issue 1: (IN)FERTILITY. Vol 3, Issue 3: BODY. marianneduquettecuozzo.com and Marianneduquettecuozzo9128 and email: bugonu at juno.com
Krista Curley. Medical Laboratory Technician, Mama. Diagnosed at 39, IDC, Stage IV, ER+. I am currently 42. I was diagnosed ne dovo with mets to bone and lymph. After many failing hormonal treatments, surgery and chemotherapies, I have progressed and now seem to be in the end of life Stage. Despite the bad news received this week, I am still determined to fight for life. I am a wife to Patrick and a mother to Ethan 16 and Naomi who just turned 10. We have a dog, Bella aka "Pupup", who is very important to our family. Despite this terrible disease we live with as much love and laughter as we can. I am blessed to have the most amazing support system anyone could ask for and I am surrounded by love everyday. Living with cancer is the toughest full-time job I have ever had. Living daily with uncertainty of the future, pain, depression and heartache. I have always strived to live as positively and adventurously as possible during these past few years and I believe I could not have gotten this far without an open mind and heart. I wish to thank my husband, sister, children, mother, family and the best of friends, I am honored to be a part of their lives. Please enjoy my blog but also share the message of Metastatic Breast Cancer, the more we talk about it the more we can save lives! Vol 2, Issue 4: MBC: YOUNG & STAGE IV metastaticbreastcancernowwhat.wordpress.com and email: curleygirly at hotmail.com
Chiara D'Agostino. Model, blogger, breast cancer advocate. Diagnosed at 40. IDC, Stage III, Triple Negative. Diagnosed at 42. IDC, Stage IV, Triple Negative. A former high school Italian teacher, Chiara grew up in New Jersey and now focuses her passion on thriving with Stage IV breast cancer, modeling, blogging at Beauty Through the Beast, and advocating for breast cancer and healthcare. Chiara was diagnosed with Stage III triple negative breast cancer October 2104 after a routine mammogram did not pick up the 3 cm lump - she found the mass herself because she has dense breast tissue. She had neo-adjuvant ACT chemotherapy, two single mastectomies, six surgeries for implant infections, and in August 2016 she was diagnosed Stage IV triple negative breast cancer. After another implant infection, she switched surgeons and decided to remain flat. She's now on her second clinical trial to treat the Stage IV, and this trial involves a weekly infusion of chemotherapy. Chiara's favorite sounds are ocean waves and children laughing. Vol 2, Issue 4: MBC: YOUNG & STAGE IV beautythroughthebeast.com and @BeautyThroughTheBeast and email: chiara at beautythroughthebeast.com
Laura Davis. Author. Diagnosed at age 50. Stage IIb, ER+. Laura is the author of 7 best-selling books, including The Courage to Heal and I Thought We’d Never Speak Again. Founder of The Writer’s Journey, she teaches writing classes in Santa Cruz, California and leads retreats worldwide, specializing in the use of writing as a transformational tool. Laura was diagnosed with estrogen-positive breast cancer, Stage IIb, when she was 50, and her youngest child was 10. That was ten years ago and she’s never forgotten how precious every moment is and how quickly the lives we think we have can be turned upside down. Unless otherwise noted Laura contributed all the writing prompts from Vol 2, Issue 2: BODY and onward. lauradavis.net
Annie Dennison. Psychologist turned photographer, co-founder of #BreastCancerRealityCheck. Diagnosed at 53, Stage IIa IDC, HER2+, ER+. When I was stuck at home feeling sick during chemo, losing my hair and mind, I created a “bald Barbie cancer army” to photograph. Much to my surprise, that grew into the Barbies Losing It Photography Project (on Instagram). With that project I tell our cancer stories and raise money for MBC research. Vol 3, Issue 3: BODY. @barbieslosingit
Cindy DiCenzo. Kindergarten Teacher. Diagnosed at age 29. IDC, Stage II. ER+, PR+. Claire is a breast cancer survivor of 24 months. She finished treatment right after her 30th birthday. In those short 6 months, she learned more about herself and life than she could have ever imagined. Claire is a kindergarten teacher in Connecticut and has been teaching for 9 years. She loves each day with her students, as they shed new and exciting light with their perspective on the world. It was important to her to continue working throughout her chemotherapy. During her treatment, Claire blogged about her experiences and tried to find the humor and silver lining in each doctor’s appointment. Claire has been featured in local Connecticut newspapers and TV stations, as well being featured on the 2017 Susan G. Komen Foundation’s calendar. She is active in her local young breast cancer community and hopes to spread the word to other young women by sharing her story and experiences. Claire knew before being diagnosed that “Everything happens for a reason,” but now even more than ever she knows that that statement is her mindset to live by everyday. Vol 1, Issue 6: FERTILITY AFTER BREAST CANCER, Vol 3, Issue 1: (IN)FERTILITY @claireperkybits and perkybits.com and email: claire at perkybits.com
Rebecca Hall Dickson. Rebecca is the cowriter of and the inspiration for the short film Bare. As a Stage IV metastatic breast cancer (MBC) patient and advocate, she advocates for more funding, research, and awareness of MBC. The Pink Agenda recently recognized Rebecca with the Lisa Mae Lee Award for her work in the MBC community. Rebecca is also a certified yoga instructor and teaches free yoga for women with cancer in her hometown of Santa Cruz, CA. She has a blog, Cancer You Can Suck It, and her writing has been published in Glamour, Wildfire, and the Underbelly. In her latest project, Harriet + Ginger, she makes and donates free lavender eye pillows for cancer patients, their loved ones, and providers. If you would like to purchase an eye pillow (profits go towards free eye pillows for cancer patients) or make a donation, please visit harrietandginger.com. Rebecca lives with her husband and her dog, Harriet. Vol 1, Issue 1: PHOENIX; Vol 2, Issue 1: LOVE; Vol 2, Issue 4: MBC: YOUNG & STAGE IV. Becky is the yogi behind the yoga instructions in the BODY (2017) issue and others going forward. canceryoucansuckit.wordpress.com and rebeccahall.net
Kevin Hislop. Entrepreneur, educator, blogger. No personal history of breast cancer; he married and cared for a woman who ultimately passed away from metastatic breast cancer. Kevin was born and raised in the California Bay Area, bouncing between San Francisco, Alameda, and Oakland, with an interlude to Minnesota for college. Kevin has focused his career on teaching and academic administration, as well as coaching high school football. Along the way, he met and fell in love with Deidre (Dee) in Santa Cruz and became a stepfather to her daughter, Jay. When Dee was diagnosed with Stage IIb Triple Negative breast cancer in 2014, she and Kevin started a blog together called Defeating Triple Negative Breast Cancer: One Diagnosis, Two Voices (any Orange is the New Black fans out there?). At that time, Dee wrote, “Given that we are moving across this battlefield together, we want to share both sides of our story so that we can connect with others and process (just a bit) as we progress.” In 2017, after being NED for 18 months, Dee's cancer returned and metastasized to her lungs, spine, and liver. She and Kevin continued to write and update their blog. After Dee passed away, Kevin continued to use writing as an outlet and processing tool. Vol, 3 Issue 4; CAREGIVERS. https://deefeatingtnbc.wordpress.com.
Dana Dinerman. Swimwear designer, fashion trend writer, and stay at home mom. Diagnosed at 34. IDC, Stage III. ER+, PR+ (HER2-). Regional recurrence at 35, lymph nodes in neck. Recurrence summer 2016 at almost-39: Stage IV, mets to lung, chest wall, and neck. I was diagnosed at a time when I was celebrating my son turning one and hoping to add on to our family. I never thought the growing lump in my breast, which was initially misdiagnosed as a clogged milk duct from breast feeding, would change my world forever. I did not realize the struggles that lay ahead as I planned my surgery on removing a breast and forgetting to get my labs for chemotherapy as we drove for my first infusion. I managed to get through the first trials of chemo and radiation not expecting that the pain in my shoulder and neck a couple months later would be the recurrence I was so fearful of experiencing. I would be re-diagnosed exactly a year after my first diagnosis. The day I was supposed to be celebrating one year out I would be on the phone setting up appointments with my oncologist. I would be told this time surgery was not an option as the neck nodes were too difficult to remove and I could only rely on chemotherapy. I honestly believed that this meant I was Stage IV however, being a mom and wanting to fight for my son, I moved forward. I would find three months after I started chemotherapy the cancer had melted away and I would complete my treatment with radiation to my neck and shoulder. I discovered during treatment that going to yoga, acupuncture, and meditating would keep me connected to my inner spirit and mind. I strongly believe that connecting the mind, body, and soul helped me get through the entire process the second time around and I was able to enjoy my life even with iv bruises and a bald head. It is nearly four years later and after much struggle with early menopause I still manage focus on the positive and last year I was at my son's fifth birthday party helping him blow out his candles. I vow to always be an advocate for my fellow survivors and share my story, create designer swimwear for them (Hulabelle), and find trendy fashionable items that breast cancer survivors can have fun with while dealing with side effects from cancer. My mission is to encourage, give back, and be the best mom to my son. Vol 1, Issue 4: PARENTING WITH CANCER; Vol 2, Issue 2: BODY; Vol 2, Issue 4: MBC: YOUNG & STAGE IV. @hulabelleswimwear and hulabelle.com email: ddinerman at hulabelle.com
Tina Doueihi. Business owner, lingerie designer. Diagnosed at age 37. Grade 3, ER+. Tina was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2008 at 37 years of age. There was no family history of the disease. Tina is the Founder & Creator of Red Fern Lingerie, an exciting new Australian mastectomy lingerie brand. Tina created Red Fern Lingerie from her personal experience with breast cancer and the extreme limited choice available to women post surgery and treatment. Tina wants to help women heal and reclaim their body confidence through the beauty of lingerie and offering a new choice in mastectomy lingerie. Tina is the youngest of 5 daughters ad has 13 nieces and nephews. She always jokes that her family is a blend of “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” meets the TV series “Brothers & Sisters.” Tina’s absolute guilty pleasure is eating chocolate while watching one of the Real Housewives series. Vol 2, Issue 2: BODY. redfernlingerie.com
April Doyle. Diagnosed at 31. DCIS, stage I. ER+. Diagnosed at 34. Stage IV. ER+. Metastasis to Bone. April has been living with metastatic breast cancer for the last two years. After graduating from CSU Fresno with a BA in English Literature, she realized that there is no such thing as a paying job that requires you to read books all day. Overcoming that disappointment, she has a fulfilling career in which she gets to help people with disabilities. In addition to her career, she has a charismatic son that is the light of her life. April loves collecting seashells on the beach, drinking too much coffee, and planning to do yoga at some point in the future. She is also the person to call when someone finds a stray animal as many of her friends are well aware and take advantage of. She and her son live in Central California. They can usually be found in their vegetable garden or in the nearest bookstore. Vol 1, Issue 5, MBC: YOUNG & STAGE IV, Vol 2, Issue 2: BODY. @theclife_mbc
Tara Dunsmore. Nurse, certified Areola Complex 3D tattoo artist. Diagnosed at age 39. IDC, Stage I, ER+, PR+. Tara is an five-year breast cancer survivor, nurse, and certified areola tattoo artist. Following her mastectomy and reconstruction, Tara searched for an expert to do her areola tattoos but was unable to find a specialist. Feeling helpless, she had her areola tattos performed by a nurse who did what she could but it just wasn't what Tara thought all survivors deserved. She knew at that moment her life was about to change. She trained with the best teacher in the country and came back to North Carolina to offer expert aerola 3D tattooing to all survivors. She vowed to give them exactly what they deserve: whatever color or size they request. She promised to always provide a realistic appearance. In April 2014 Tara founded Pink Ink Tattoo. Vol 2, Issue 2: BODY. @pink_ink_tattoo and Pinkinktattoo.com and email: pinkinktattoo1 at yahoo.com
Katie Edick. Pediatric Occupational Therapist, Bass Ass Metastatic Breast Cancer Thriver. Diagnosed at 40. Stage IV, de novo, Triple Positive. Katie is a 41-year-old metastatic breast cancer thriver. Happily married for 14 years to the greatest, selfless man on earth, Brent. They have two amazing children Drew, 13 and Anna, 10. Katie has been a pediatric occupational therapist for 17 years. She is a forever Michigander, working for Ionia County Intermediate School district for 12 years in the Early On birth to three program. Former part time clinical affiliate at Grand Valley State University in the Occupational Therapy Program. A forever learner and educator with leaving her job at GVSU she has taking to writing and blogging as a therapeutic release and is investigating how to assist more with advocacy for MBC. She participated as a muse for an Art Prize 9 project in Grand Rapids, MI called Crowns of Courage where henna was applied as a crown on my bald head after chemo. Stage IV breast cancer will not define her or be a measure of her worth. Diagnosis de novo Stage IV with mets to spine and and liver on Oct 13, 2016, Katie is currently NEAD. Vol 2, Issue 4: MBC: YOUNG & STAGE IV. metastaticandmakarios.blogspot.com and @kedick
Stephanie McLeod-Estevez. Art therapist. Diagnosed at 40. Stage IIIa, Triple Negative. Mom to 2 amazing boys, who were 5 and 7 when I was diagnosed. Caregiver to my mom, who died from metastatic breast cancer when I was 26. I live in Portland, Maine, with my husband, kids and our 2 sweet cats. I blend my professional expertise as an art therapist with my personal cancer experience to be a road warrior for reclaiming our lives and living as fully as we can for as long as we can. Writer of the #TherapyThursday blog. Vol 3, Issue 3: Body. creative-transformations.com and @creativetransformationsllc
Karlee Excell. Diagnosed at 21. IDC, stage III. ER+, PR+, HER+ (Triple Positive). Karlee is an 8-year breast cancer survivor, first diagnosed at age 21. She is now an oncology nurse working where she was treated. Karlee is mum to a naturally conceived post-cancer baby and is breastfeeding her son with one breast until he naturally weans. Karlee's husband suffers from PTSD after being injured in Afghanistan while on deployment with the Australian Army. Together, they are navigating life and love after both going through traumatic experiences. Vol 1, Issue 4: PARENTING WITH CANCER; Vol 1, Issue 6: FERTILITY AFTER BREAST CANCER
Beth Fairchild. Advocate, Wife, Mother, Artist, Yogi, Lover of all that lives. Thriving with Stage IV breast cancer. Diagnosed at age 34. ILC, Stage IV, ER+, PR+ (HER2-). I was diagnosed de novo metastatic in May 2014 with mets to my reproductive organs, liver and bones one week after a clear mammogram. I am a woman reduced to one primal instinct: Survival. Vol 1, Issue 5: MBC: YOUNG & STAGE IV @bethfairchild and metavivor.org email: beth at metavivor.org
Genevieve Fridley. Documentary photographer. Genevieve has not been diagnosed with breast cancer. Genevieve is a documentary photographer living in Syracuse, NY. She volunteers for The Molly Project, photographing women whose lives have been redefined by terminal illness. Vol 1, Issue 1: PHOENIX themollyproject.org
Beth L. Gainer. Professor. Diagnosed age 39. Stage Ic, ER+, PR+. Beth is a professor of English and Humanities at Robert Morris University Illinois. She loves spending time with her family and friends. She’s also an avid reader and artist, enjoying sketching and oil painting. In July 2016 her book Calling the Shots in Your Medical Care will be available. She has made appearances on Huffington Post Live, as well as a variety of other media avenues. Vol 1, Issue 2: LOVE @bethlgainer and bethgainer.com
Emily Garnett. Diagnosed at 32. IDC, Stage IV, ER+, de novo. Emily is an elder law attorney turned stay-at-home mom to her 2 year old son. In November 2017, just days after her son’s 2nd birthday and her 5th wedding anniversary, she was diagnosed with Stage IV breast cancer. Because she has always believed in the power of one’s own voice, she began blogging about her diagnosis and treatment as a way to foster community, create dialogue, and provide education about breast cancer, particularly in young and post-partum women. She is working on an upcoming podcast, Beyond the Pink Ribbon, to further the much- needed dialogue surrounding life with cancer. Vol 3, Issue 3, BODY. emilyrgarnett.com and @beyondthepinkribbon
Jenny Gasseschi. Photographer. Jenny has not experienced breast cancer first hand, but because of her own chronic illness, she has developed a heart of compassion for all who suffer ill health. Jenny lives with her husband and two dogs in a home nestled amongst oak trees on the Central Coast of California. After having raised two wonderful children, Jenny now finds herself transitioning into a new season of life, one that offers a bit more time for artistic pursuits, such as photography. She made the jump from simple iPhone shots to what she calls “real camera photos” when she received a Nikon DSLR camera as a gift from her husband this past Christmas. She was quite elated but also a bit daunted by this incredibly sophisticated piece of equipment. To her surprise and delight, she found herself the glad recipient of genuine and continuous encouragement by many photographers in the Instagram community, which gave her the confidence she needed, and soon a deep affinity for nature photography has bubbled up within her. “I love the intimacy and vulnerability I discover when looking at nature through a macro lens. It’s as if God is singing me a love song through the tiny details of His creation,” she says. Vol 1, Issue 2: LOVE: Unless otherwise noted, Jenny provided the photos for this issue. @jennygrasseschi
Mandy Giannattasio. Former Safety Guide at Amazon, Mom, Real Estate Student. Diagnosed at age 36. IDC, Stage Ia, Triple Positive. I am a mother of three wonderfully insane children ages 17 (girl), 13 (boy), and 11 (boy). I am the wife of the most encouraging, supportive, loving, gentle, understanding man I know. I am currently going to school for Realty and cannot wait to begin this new chapter in my life. Life before breast cancer? Hell, that was easy. I was flying through it at top speed. Life during breast cancer? That's a whole other ballgame. It was crazy-chaotic, slow, and brutal. One that I honestly didn't think I would make it through most days. Life after breast cancer? That's the challenge isn't it? Figuring out life after breast cancer." Vol 2, Issue 2: BODY @tenerife_sea_94
Cindy Gillespie. Photographer. Diagnosed in 1983 Cervical Uterine Cancer, then IDC, stage III in 1998, including a right bi-lateral mastectomy. Cindy has no cancer presently and is currently finding the beauty within everything she can find. Unless otherwise noted, Cindy provided the photos for Vol 1, Issue 6: FERTILITY AFTER BREAST CANCER @impromptuphotography
Renata Gortan. Journalist. Diagnosed at age 32. IDC, Stage III, ER+. BRCA2+. Renata is a 34-year-old journalist from Sydney, Australia. With no family history of breast cancer, she was blindsided by a diagnosis at 32. Turns out she BRCA2+. Because she was young and the cancer was aggressive, she had what her oncologist called the Rolls Royce of treatment: chemo, radiation, mastectomy, reconstruction and now tamoxifen. Seeing as she plays with words for a living, she started blogging about it to try and make sense of it all. It still doesn't make sense to her, but writing about it has helped clarify her feelings regarding her treatment, cancer and all the shit that goes with it. She loves that her blog has allowed her to connect with other women who are going through the same thing and hopes that her posts can give women the kind of solace she found when other people shared their experiences with her. Vol 2, Issue 2: BODY @renatagortan and whenlifegoestitsup.com
Kesha Haggans. Author, breast cancer survivor life coach, and public speaker. Diagnosed at age 34. IDC, stage II, ER+. She was born and raised in Jonesboro, AR. She has been married to Jonathan Haggans for almost 20 years and has 4 beautiful children: Daisha, Alexis, Donovan and Brayson. In the summer of 2012 she was diagnosed with Stage II breast cancer. She underwent a double mastectomy, reconstruction surgery and 8 rounds of chemotherapy. On October 17, 2012 was deemed cancer-free! After her battle with cancer two things stood out to Kesha: How amazing her supporters were and how much courage she gained from her children. She then went on to create Pink Unveiled which is an organization that “supports the supporters” of not only cancer but any traumatic disease. The mission of Pink Unveiled is to “unveil the truth behind cancer” through speaking events, meetings, coaching & writing. She hosted her first Pink Unveiled event on Oct 24th, 2014. Her book “The Coolest Mommy” was inspired by her then 3-year-old Brayson. Her mission is to bring awareness and hope to mommies who may not always feel the prettiest or the strongest but to realize in your children’s eyes, you’re always the “COOLEST." Vol 1, Issue 4: PARENTING WITH CANCER pinkunveiled.com and @khaganz or @pink_unveiled email: pinkunveiled at gmail.com
Kim Harms. Freelance writer. Diagnosed at 40. Stage I, ER+, PR+, HER2+ (Triple Positive). Kim is a freelance writer and speaker who underwent a bilateral mastectomy and breast reconstruction at age 40. She has written for a variety of publications include CT Women, Creation Illustrated and Chicken Soup for the Soul. Harms lives in Huxley, Iowa with her husband Corey and their three sons and blogs about her Life Reconstructed at kimharms.net. Vol 3, Issue 2: MENTAL HEALTH
Emily Helck. Writer, artist. Diagnosed age 28. Stage I, ER-, PR-, HER2+. Emily is a writer and artist living in Jersey City, NJ. Diagnosed with breast cancer in 2012, she captured the experience through writing and photography on her blog, The Real. Vol 1, Issue 2: LOVE rjtonj.blogspot.com
Danielle Hernandez. Administrative Assistant. Diagnosed at 32 with stage IV DCIS, ER+, BRCA 2+. Danielle currently lives with her cat Pickle in Los Angeles, California where she works full time as an Administrative Assistant for a Telecommunications company. When she isn't co-hosting her weekly podcast Well This Sucks, she is working on her "old lady crafts" such as calligraphy, cross-stitching or any diy project that inspires her. Danielle also has loads of plants, all crammed into in her tiny studio apartment which she lovingly refers to as her Hobbit Hole. Vol, 3 Issue 4: CAREGIVERS. @danielleyells and wellthissucks.me.
Kisha Lee Hendrix. Social Media Manager at METUP.org. Diagnosed at 34. DCIS, Stage II, Triple Negative. Diagnosed at 35. Stage IV in 2012. I am a mother to three amazing sons; ages 21, 20, and 18. I am the oldest of four, and grew up in Texas and Arizona. I became familiar with the term "terminal illness " early in my adult life, when my mother was diagnosed with Hepatitis C. I watched as she had okay days, and bad days. I watched her have to explain repeatedly that yes, she was STILL sick. That she would never be cured. That her treatments were to attempt to slow down the disease, not cure it, because there was no cure. I watched her start a blog and online support group for other patients before that was even a thing that people did. I mention all this because my mom died a year before I i was initially diagnosed Stage 2b, and two years before I was diagnosed as Stage iv. I learned the most about how to live with this disease from my mom. She taught me that it's okay to be afraid and to be angry. She taught me that its okay to not explain anything to anyone if I can't handle it that day. She taught me to fight for the care I'm in need of; and to advocate, fight, and speak up for those who can't even I have some energy to share. She taught me to embrace my strengths and my weaknesses. The last lesson my mom taught me though, is how to know when it's time to die. With grace and dignity. That there is nothing wrong with saying "I'm tired, and I'm done now". For me, that was her last and most important gift to me, though I didn't know it at the time. It's a gift that I used when I exhausted my treatment options and choose quality over quantity in January 2017. I am an advocate. I am a mother, a sister, a friend, a lover, and a Stage iv metastatic breast cancer patient. I'm a science geek who is using my knowledge and background to fight for myself and others. I am currently taking research modules through John Hopkins for molecular metastasis and neoangiogenesis and furthering my education in this disease to better serve METUP.org and myself and those counting on us to do so. I'm a mom who wants to watch her kids get married, or not. Have kids, or not. Graduate university, they better. I just want to be here. So, I'll keep using my voice and my words to make my mark while I can. Vol 2, Issue 4: MBC: YOUNG & STAGE IV. thecancerchick.blogspot.com and @kisha_thecancerchick_hendrix and email: metupgal at gmail.com
Rebecca J Hogue. Associate Lecturer (Instructional Design), PhD Candidate (Education), ePatient Blogger. Diagnosed age 43. IDC. Stage II, ER+, PR+. Becky is an ePatient blogger and flexible scholar. She is co-founder of Virtually Connecting, and Associate Lecturer at the University of Massachusetts-Boston and PhD Candidate at the University of Ottawa (Canada). Professionally, she produces self-published eBooks, and teaches Emerging Technologies and Instructional Design online. Her research and innovation interests are in the areas of ePatient storytelling (pathography), blogging, and online collaboration. Vol 1, Issue 3: NEW NORMAL bcbecky.com and goingeast.ca and rjh.goingeast.ca and @rjhogue
Lara Honnor. Actress. Diagnosed age 31. Grade III, Triple Negative (ER-, PR-, HER2-). Lara is an actress from London. In October 2014 at the age of 31 she was diagnosed with grade 3 Triple Negative Breast Cancer after finding a lump in her right breast. On hearing the word cancer she immediately thought she was going to die. But three days later she got a puppy and decided cancer had messed with the wrong girl! Throughout her grueling treatment of IVF, surgery, chemo, and radiation she wrote a blog called Get Your Tits Out!, a funny - warts and all - account on living with cancer. In her eyes, humor is always the best medicine. She is now cancer-free but doesn’t dare take anything for granted. She has jacked in her hectic life in London and now lives happily by the sea in Brighton on the South Coast with her husband and two dogs. Vol 1, Issue 2: LOVE; Vol 2, Issue 1: LOVE larahonnor.tumblr.com
Laura Hughes. Hair Stylist. Diagnosed age 25. Stage III, ER+, HER2+. Lara is a 27-year-old professional hair stylist from Norwich, Norfolk, UK. She was diagnosed with breast cancer after discovering a fast-growing lump while traveling in Australia in February 2014. Currently she is preparing for a 36-mile trek across Iceland in the summer of 2016 to raise awareness and money for young women's breast cancer. Vol 1, Issue 2: LOVE @laurahughes1988 and baldbooblessandbeautiful.wordpress.com
Natasha "Pineapple Girl". Author. Diagnosed at age 37. IDC, Papillary Carcinoma of the Breast, stage III, ER-, PR-, HER2- (Triple Negative). BRCA1+. Natalia is the author of Thatcword, a brash, unapologetic story about her cancer journey and how she kicked that bad stuff in the butt. She is also a lifecoach and maker of good. Vol 1, Issue 6: FERTILITY AFTER BREAST CANCER; Vol 2, Issue 1: LOVE, Vol 3, Issue 1: (IN)FERTILITY. @veganpineapplegirl
Melissa Jansen. Paralegal. Diagnosed at 46. IDC, Stage I, ER+. Born in California, Melissa’s family moved to England at a young age where she eventually gained a degree in design. Upon her return to California she became interested in the law. In her legal career, Melissa had the honor of working with the leading experts in the field of child sexual abuse and domestic violence. Eventually she trained law enforcement on deception, domestic violence & investigation of child sexual abuse. Although she found her work rewarding, she decided to leave the stress behind and moved to Arroyo Grande where she now resides with her husband. Melissa has always found passion in writing. She was a ghost writer for a local paper under the alias “The Psychic Waitress”. More recently Melissa was chronicling stories of a concentration camp survivor, Gerarda Ondang, until her passing in July 2017. After her diagnosis with breast cancer in August 2017, Melissa found no hopeful articles or photographs of woman with unilateral mastectomies without reconstruction. Her motto “If you can’t find the person - you must be the person” lead her to utilize her degree in design and love of writing into a blog “I Don’t Need Two.” Melissa focuses on fashion to help woman with breast cancer see their bodies in a positive light, regardless of their shape. Vol 3, Issue 3: BODY. idontneedtwo.com and @idontneedtwo email: idontneedtwo at gmail.com
Ginger Johnson. Chief Miracle Chaser at the Survivor Soul Project. Diagnosed age 31. DCIS, Stage II, ER+, PR+. Diagnosed at 40. Stage IV in 2015. I'm a Stage IV survivor (with NED) who knows the power of mindset tied to passionate desire, applicable faith and real intent. I love sappy movies, dark chocolate and walking in the early morning hours so I can see the stars and talk with God. I'm no longer afraid to own my divine worth and shine - even if people may not like it. I love being a mother and my 3 children are my greatest accomplishments that bring me the most joy. I experience deep peace regularly - despite all I've been through - mainly because I know who I am, what my purpose is, and I've claimed my worth. I have an 'old soul' and love deep conversations and creating new things. I'm an entrepreneur at heart and have the ability to see the bigger picture and motivate the masses while honoring each individual for who they uniquely are. I love to learn, dance when music is playing (much to my children's dismay -- especially in department stores - wink) and skip in parking lots or ride the shopping cart to my car. Life is sooo good and after 42 years on this earth, I'm finally comfortable being me. And that is a brilliantly wonderful space to be in. Vol 2, Issue 4: MBC: YOUNG & STAGE IV. survivorsoulproject.com
Rebecca Katz. Consultant, speaker, teacher and chef. No personal history of breast cancer. Rebecca works closely with physicians, nurses, and wellness professionals to include the powerful tools of flavor and nutrition in their medical arsenal. Rebecca is the Executive Chef for Emeritus for The Center for Mind-Body Medicine’s renowned Food as Medicine professional training in medical nutrition therapy, and consults for Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine’s premiere nutrition conference for health professionals co-directed by Fredi Kronenberg, PhD, and Andrew Weil, MD. She is the founder of the Healing Kitchens Institute at Commonweal, which trains healthcare professionals and interested cooks how to translate nutritional science directly to the plate through taste and flavor. Rebecca is the author of several cookbooks including Clean Soups: Simple, Nourishing Recipes for Health and Vitality (Ten Speed Press, 2016), and the award-winning cookbook The Cancer-Fighting Kitchen: Nourishing Big-Flavor Recipes for Cancer Treatment and Beyond (Ten Speed Press, 2009). Rebecca is the writer behind the nutritional information & recipes in the BODY issue and going forward. rebeccakatz.com
Carey Kirkella. Photographer (fine art, commercial and editorial) with an interest in photographing stories and portraits around women’s issues and conscious capitalism. I have no personal history of cancer, but my sister Renee passed away from Stage IV breast cancer at the age of 40. I’m working on a long-term personal photography project called Sisters & Survivors; portraits of breast cancer fighters and thrivers with their sisters. The book will be dedicated to my sister and her daughter and used as a fundraising tool specifically for metastatic breast cancer. Many of the women I’m photographing for the project are inspirational and have chosen to become speakers/activists or started businesses related to helping other women with breast cancer. My hope is to inspire more breast cancer fighters to create something positive and meaningful out of their experiences. I’m currently seeking sponsors to help make the book project possible. I also started a community website where people can share their personal stories along with childhood and/or current photos with their sister. I live in Brooklyn, NY with my husband, our baby boy and sweet dog. Vol 3, Issue 3 BODY. @careykirkella websites: careykirkella.com and sistersproject.info
Shellie Long Kendrick. Diagnosed at 31. Stage IIb. Diagnosed age 34. Stage IV. In 1993 at 13 years old I was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma. In 2012 at 31 years old I was diagnosed with Breast cancer, stage IIb. In 2015 I found out that my breast cancer had returned and I was now Stage 4 Metastatic Breast Cancer. MBC is when breast cancer has spread to other organs or bones in your body. Mine was found in my liver, lungs, femur and spine. Why I wanted to start a makeup/hair blog/Instagram account: When I went bald for the third time I was upset that once again I would look like a cancer patient. Been there, done that. I just want to look like me again. So I put in some more orders at @voguewigsofficial for some new @fywigs (they are the best!) and started looking for YouTube accounts / blogs / pins that would help me create more styles with my wigs and not just wear them down. I didn't really find much. So because I see a need that I wanted for myself... I wanted to fill that need for someone else. I'm not a makeup artist or hair stylist. I'm just a girl who feels you should feel beautiful in your skin. Vol 1, Issue 3: NEW NORMAL; Vol 2, No 3: NEW NORMAL. @the.bald.bomb.shell
Faith Kosmack. Mental health therapist, wife, mother, and sister. Diagnosed at 40. IDC, Stage IV. ER+, PR+ (HER2-). (Initial diagnosis at Stage IV, bone mets only.) At the age of 40, she was diagnosed with Stage IV breast cancer, bone mets only. Vol 1, Issue 4: PARENTING WITH CANCER; Vol 1, Issue 5, MBC: YOUNG & STAGE IV; Vol 2, No 3: NEW NORMAL; Vol 2, Issue 3: NEW NORMAL; Vol 2, Issue 4: MBC: YOUNG & STAGE IV.
Heidi Lamprecht. Educator, food science certified, breast cancer blogger, wife and mother of 2. Diagnosed at age 34. IDC, Stage I. ER+, PR+. Heidi is currently keeping her day job as an academic advisor for local tribal governance while finding healing through her blog, HappilyEverAfterCancer. She is a lover of all things from Spain, including her husband and their home on the tranquil paradise in the Pacific Northwest. If she is not enjoying the outdoors with her family, blogging or advising, she is sharing the responsibility of raising her 2 beautiful and bilingual children with her husband and co-coordinating events for their latest project Paella House. Heidi is currently spending her free time writing a children’s book series related to breast cancer, One For You and One For Me. She enjoys writing about her experience as a cancer survivor and inspiring others to be more than the disease. It empowers her to keep moving forward and live. She continues to strive for a life full of joy, love and healthy living for herself and her family. She is focusing on how to live “happily ever after cancer.” Vol 1, Issue 4: PARENTING WITH CANCER @happilyeveraftercancer and happilyeveraftercancer.com and paellahousept.com email: heidi at happilyeveraftercancer.com
Shawna King-Lobmiller. Jewelry supply store manager, vintage resale and up-cycle business owner. No personal history of breast cancer; my wife was diagnosed with Stage III, HER2+ breast cancer in 2015, also my mother died of cancer in 2012. I am married to the beautiful, courageous BC survivor, BethAnne King-Lobmiller, founder of Breastless and Beautiful and assistant to the founder of a2ndAct.org; I have a formal education and BFA in Metalsmithing and am a jeweler by trade. I have several hobbies some of which include up-cycling furniture and manicuring our Tuscon, Arizona backyard for the purpose of providing my wife with an outstanding place to come home to and enjoy all of the beauty that surrounds us. Vol 3, Issue 4; CAREGIVERS.
Felicia Mahone. Diagnosed at 27. Stage IIa, Triple Negative. Felicia is a native of Georgia. Unfortunately, she knows all too well the personal effects that breast cancer has to offer to one’s life. She lost her mother, two maternal aunts, and two maternal cousins to this dreadful disease. Felicia was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 27, the same age that her mother was diagnosed. But unlike her mother, she won and became the first survivor in her family in twenty years. After surviving the death of her mother, two rapes, and a home invasion, she vowed never to take on the attitude of "why me," but "why not me." Felicia's journey with breast cancer, often left her feeling abandoned and alone. After countless times being in the hospital alone, she decided that she would become an advocate for other survivors. She's now a patient navigator for Grady Memorial Hospital, a state leader for the Young Survival Collation, a peer partner for Emory Winship Cancer Institute, an ambassador for the American Cancer Society, a motivational speaker and serves on the Advisory board for the Ga Core. Felicia works very closely with breast cancer patients at Grady, and now metastatic breast cancer patients at Emory. She helps them navigate through the system, attends appointments, along with hospital stays, and helps them financially by helping with co-pays for medication, giving them food, and partnering with her friends to help ensure her patients children have a Christmas. Felicia believes that we were put here on earth to be a service to others. Felicia was also featured in her local newspaper, an article in Ebony online issue, Women’s Day magazine, Good Enough Mother blog, Tiger Lily, Avon's All About Breasts, and the Atlanta Braves 2015 Diamond of Hope Award recipient. Felicia often tells her patients "if it didn't rain, nothing would ever grow!” Vol 2, Issue 3: NEW NORMAL
Desiree Maldonado. University P-Card Manager & Microblading Artist. Diagnosed at 45. IDC, Stage II/III,
Triple Negative. Married to my high school sweetheart and mother of two fabulous adults, who all three beings, were reasons to fight like a heroine. I was a caregiver to my Papa, who passed in 2011 with Prostate Cancer as well as I lost my Father to Renal Carcinoma in 2014. I now view these two painful cancer losses as preparation & practice for my own journey. I am thankful to be alive and will live the rest of my life paying it forward as a cancer advocate and support to anyone who needs it, family or complete stranger. Vol 3, Issue 3: BODY. facebook.com/desisjourney and @bestofdesi
Leslie Marcinko. Elementary School Teacher, Spin Instructor, Mom. Diagnosed at age 44. ILC (Invasive Lobular Carcinoma), Stage II, ER+, PR+, HER2+ (Triple Positive). Leslie is a survivor not only of child abuse, domestic abuse and domestic violence but also of breast cancer and she deals with PTSD. Since leaving her marriage and being diagnosed with cancer she has vowed to no longer stay silent about her experiences in the hope that speaking out will help others who may be suffering too. Her favorite quote comes from the poem Invictus "I thank whatever gods may be for my unconquerable soul" and she has recently had it tattooed on her body. Leslie says, "I was misdiagnosed for 2 long years before my gynecologist became concerned. For those 2 years I displayed many signs of breast cancer and expressed my concern over and over only to have her dismiss my worries." At last Leslie found new doctors and received the diagnosis and treatment she required and deserved. Vol 2, Issue 1: LOVE @Fireball7729 and email: peliroja7729 at gmail.com
Kathryn Martin. Diagnosed at age 43. IDC, grade II, stage II. ER+, PR+, HER2-. Kathryn lives in Australia and works for the environment department which involves a range of work related to pest plants and animals, native animals and national parks. Vol 1, Issue 6: FERTILITY AFTER BREAST CANCER.
Melanie Masterson. Diagnosed at age 39. IDC, Stage IV. ER+. Melanie lives in a small city of a million people on the Canadian prairies. Where she lives it is usually winter for eight months of the year, so a good sense of humour is required. A writer, reader, wife, and momma to three young girls, Melanie can usually be found writing fictional stories that she hasn't show anyone yet. With degrees in English Literature and Journalism, Melanie has been blogging for the past 17 years and admits that reading and writing are pretty much her only hobbies. Currently she is working on her Stage IV cancer literary bucket list and plans to drag her family to all sorts of literary places across the globe while her health permits. Vol 1, Issue 4: PARENTING WITH CANCER' Vol 2, Issue 4: MBC: YOUNG & STAGE IV. @meli_mello1 and meli-mello.com email: meli.mello at gmail.com
Abbie R. Matza. Writer and editor. Diagnosed at age 36. Stage IIb, ER+, PR+, HER2-. Abbie is a 38-year-old writer and editor from New York City. She was diagnosed with bilateral breast cancer in late 2015, at the age of 36. Over the past year, she has undergone 16 rounds of neoadjuvant chemotherapy, bilateral mastectomy, reconstruction, and 25 rounds of radiation. Writing poetry has been her therapy on this journey. It has allowed her to express herself and connect with some amazing people with whom she otherwise would not have crossed paths. In addition to poetry, she enjoys floral design and jewelry design and looks forward to channeling more of her creative spirit while on the road to recovery and thereafter. The love and support of her family and close friends have kept her moving forward. Abbie has chosen to use a pen name to protect her privacy as she embarks on her new normal, but she happily welcomes correspondence via email at freebird7811 at gmail.com. Vol 1, Issue 2: LOVE
Melissa McAllister. Co-founder of The Underbelly. Diagnosed at 37. Stage 1, IDC, ER+, PR+. Melissa is a creative introvert who, for much of her life, mistakenly thought she was an extrovert. She has a one of a kind line of jewelry, shared around the world, especially in yoga and writing circles. In everyday life she is a seeker of connection, a purveyor of “me toos,” words, laughter, turquoise and coffee. Friends and nature are her therapists and when she’s not busy writing and running things behind the scenes at The Underbelly, she’s loving on her sweet dog LuLu and her lovable cats, Mila and Niles in Northern Virginia. Melissa recently appeared O Magazine’s breast cancer issue. Vol 3, Issue 1: (IN)FERTILITY. facebook.com/melissa.mcallister.75
Nicole McLean. Blogger. Diagnosed age 39. Stage III. Nic is a smiley-faced breast cancer survivor and writer who collects nicknames the way some women collect shoes. Okay, I'm kidding. I totally collect pretty shoes too. And handbags. And smiles... and journals... wait... what were we discussing? Ha! I'm the woman behind My Fabulous Boobies. It is a lifestyle blog based on my journey through breast cancer, beginning with my diagnosis at age 39. Vol 1, Issue 1: PHOENIX; Vol 2, Issue 1: LOVE @pinkribbongal and myfabulousboobies.com
Jenn McRobbie. Life Coach, Speaker and Author. Diagnosed age 38. IDC, Stage III, ER+, PR+, HER2-. She received her diagnosis in 2013 at the age 38. With no family history of breast cancer, Jenn, her family and her friends entered unknown territory full of words like mastectomy, chemotherapy, radiation, reconstruction, and endocrine therapy. This experience drove Jenn to publish her first book in March 2015. The book, Why is She Acting So Weird? A Guide to Cultivating Closeness When a Friend is in Crisis, was borne from her experiences interacting with friends after diagnosis and during treatment. Jenn believes that friends are critical to successfully navigating a crisis, so she developed the resource she wished existed for her friends when she was diagnosed. It is her treatise on empowering friends to rise and lift each other during crisis. Now, Jenn speaks around the country as an advocate for cancer survivors, their friends, and their families. Jenn's goal is to help people to see their value — how important they are — and how much they are loved. She spends every day helping others to LIVE, LOVE and BE FREE. Vol 1, Issue 3: NEW NORMAL @JennMcRobbie and jennmcrobbie.com email: jenn at jennmcrobbie.com
Lori Medlen. Entrepreneur. Diagnosed age 42. Stage I, ER/PR+, HER2-. Lori lives in Santa Cruz, CA, is President of a conference company, and likes to run, bike and write. Her chocolate lab, Hazel, is her best friend.Vol 1, Issue 1: PHOENIX
Paula Mozen. Filmmaker, Montana State University Career Coach. Diagnosed at 49 and 52. ILC, Stage I, ER+, PR+ and St I, ER+, PR-. Paula is an award-winning documentary filmmaker, educator, and PBS consultant who is the daughter of a MBC survivor and was twice diagnosed with breast cancer. Her treatments included: 2 lumpectomies, 38 weeks radiation therapy, chemotherapy, hormonal therapy and a bilateral mastectomy. She has served on the film faculties at Towson University in Baltimore, Montana State University, and San Francisco State University. She is currently a Career coach at Montana State University working in Student Services. Her films are currently distributed nationally and internationally to over 6,000 high schools, universities (Harvard, Johns Hopkins, Columbia among many others,) public libraries, hospitals, medical schools, community health clinics and public health departments; have been screened at dozens of highly acclaimed film festivals; and broadcast by PBS. She is currently launching LIFE INTERRUPTED, a film about BC survivors that gives an unflinching look at diagnosis, treatment and survival. Vol 3, Issue 3: BODY. lifeinterruptedfilm.com and @lifeinterruptedfilm email: pmozen1 at gmail.com
Bianca Muñiz. Singer/songwriter. Diagnosed at 11, ovarian cancer. Diagnosed at 22, IDC, Stage II, ER+, PR+, HER2+ (Triple Positive). Bianca is a 23-year-old singer, songwriter, and pianist; living in Sleepy Hollow, New York, who has taken flight on the music scene. Bianca has a truly unique way of captivating the unspoken; she takes her listeners inside of her mind, painting unapologetic pictures of vulnerable yet passionate truths, while entangling them into her uplifting experiences, without any refrains. With music of such originality, it makes it difficult to categorize into one genre, she calls it avant-pop. In 2016, Bianca released her first EP, “Scary Dreams.” She has since released two singles, two music videos and is currently working on her first full length album, entitled “For You.” She has a daunting arsenal of life experience from which she draws inspiration to create powerful music. She is an individual with a drive to do good and spread love throughout the world through music. Vol 3, Issue 2: MENTAL HEALTH biancamuniz.com and @Bperformer and email: bmunizmusic at gmail.com
Barbara Musser. Intimacy and sexuality educator. Diagnosed age 37 in 1989 (the tumor was not staged or tested further than to determine DCIS). Barbara is the founder and CEO of Sexy After Cancer and author of Sexy After Cancer ~ Meeting Your Inner Aphrodite on the Breast Cancer Journey. Vol 1, Issue 2: LOVE sexyaftercancer.com
Stori Nagel. Non-Profit President. Diagnosed at age 38. Stage IIIa, ER+. Born into a family where Multiple Sclerosis and Breast Cancer were both very real outcomes for my life, I learned to value my life over anything else. I married my high school sweetheart and am now the mother of three. Diagnosed with breast cancer at 38 with a 9mm tumor in my right breast, followed by eight rounds of chemotherapy, radical double mastectomy, additional lymph node removal surgery, reconstruction with multiple revisions, hysterectomy due to the effects of Tamoxifen. Tamoxifen nearly 4 years, now on a holistic regime coupled with Crossfit. Founder of Haus of Volta, a collective inspired by the beauty of classic pinups mainly applied to breast cancer survivors to promote a healthy body image after the de-feminization of treatment. Encouraging people to embrace what society calls a "defect" and to love yourself regardless. Vol 1, Issue 3: NEW NORMAL; Vol 2, Issue 2: BODY. @hausofvolta and hausofvolta.com
Emily-Kate Niskey. Public relations and marketing brand representative. Diagnosed age 44. DCIS, stage I, ER+. I am an artist, mom, former member of my family singing group, The Bergerfolk, arts educator, public relations and marketing brand representative and breast cancer survivor. I was diagnosed with breast cancer in March 2011 and had my bilateral mastectomy on June 29th 2011. The cancer was not as much of a problem as the failed attempts to reconstruct my breasts. Due to the removal of my auxillary lymph nodes on my left side my lymphatic system was not able to reroute itself and allow my left reconstructed breast to heal. After two attempts over a year and a half that involved my chest opening up and leaking lymphatic fluid I decided to stop trying to reconstruct my breasts. I felt that I was setting a bad example for my daughter, who was 13 at the time, by giving her the impression that having breasts is so important that I would risk my health and go through excruciating pain just to have them. My cancer journey led me to use art and writing to not only express what I was going through but to connect with others going through the same struggles. I hope that my art and articles encourage others with cancer to express themselves. Although my breast cancer journey has literally ripped apart my body, leaving me with missing parts, and chronic pain, I try to focus on the positive and the fact that I may have lost my breasts I am alive and healthy. “Opportunity often comes disguised in the form of misfortune or temporary defeat”- Napoleon. Vol 1, Issue 3: NEW NORMAL; Vol 1, Issue 4: PARENTING WITH CANCER; Vol 2, No 3: NEW NORMAL. @ekniskey and ourvigorlife.com email: ekniskey at gmail.com
Tracey Noce. Artist, Disney Imagineer. Tracey has not been diagnosed with breast cancer but at age 26 she was diagnosed with intermediate grade primary angiosarcoma to the left breast. A connoisseur of cats and cheesecakes, Tracey's odd upbringing in the middle of the California desert has shaped her into a hearty breed of woman. Able to withstand the discomfort of falling into cactus (very often) as a child, Tracey is resilient, if not a bit ungainly. At the ripe age of 26 she was diagnosed with a rare cancer called angiosarcoma. With no treatment protocol to speak of, the long trek of finding doctors that had ever heard of the disease commenced. After battling angiosarcoma for a year with chemo, surgery, radiation and more chemo... she is proud to say that she has been NED for 5 years. She often likes to go on expletive filled rants on just how bad cancer sucks. Vol 1, Issue 1: PHOENIX @thechubbymermaid
AnnMarie Otis. Blogger. Diagnosed at age 40. Stage I, ER+, PR+. In 2012, after undergoing breast cancer surgery, and its ongoing expected and unexpected “postscripts,” – such as radiation that continues to this day -- AnnMarie launched her blog, Stupid Dumb Breast Cancer, a fierce and unconventional initiative to support others engaged in the fight, promote awareness, and advocate on behalf of fellow breast cancer badasses. Vol 1, Issue 1: PHOENIX @stupiddumbbreastcancer and stupiddumbbreastcancer.com
Lauren Oxenhandler. Life coach. Diagnosed at 30. Stage IIb, Triple Negative. Currently living in Expander-land and learning about the person she is after the storm. Prior to diagnosis she started her own business as a Career Coach (after a decade of HR and coaching experience). Lauren is pivoting her business to specifically empower young people of all genders to take charge of their chest health as well as support young people in the cancer community as they face life after cancer. Seeker of connections to the world and other people via travel. Working her way to living and travelling full time in a remodelled RV with her partner of 9 years, Ryan, and their 3 cats. Lover of the ocean, polydactyl cats, community and laughter. Go, do, now. Vol 3, Issue 3: Body. Loandry.com and @laureneliseox
Cathy Parker. Real estate agent. Diagnosed at 35. IBC, Stage III, Triple Positive. I received chemotherapy, radiation and had over 14 surgeries. My breast cancer came back in 4 days after my treatments were completed. I am a 2-time rebel with a fierce determination to educate our young women. I am a mother of a beautiful 16-year-old and have a great support system. I love to laugh and have great food, while listening to music. Cancer does not define who I am. I may have had it but I refuse to let it have my self-esteem. I am a huge advocate for self-care and self-awareness. My goal is to spread love on positive body image. Vol 3, Issue 3: BODY. #irockmyscars and @catzlounge email: reocathyparker at gmail.com
Allisyn Kalb Perez. Pharmacist. Diagnosed at 38. Stage IV de novo, triple negative. Allisyn was very family oriented. She cared more about others than she cared about herself, especially her husband, nieces, brothers, and her parents. She was beautiful and intelligent. She was a wonderful daughter and a good friend. Vol 3, Issue 1: (IN)FERTILITY. facebook.com/allisyn.kalb Rest In Peace. Allisyn passed away in 2017.
Tine Pollard. Stay at home mom/wife - although she does anything but stays at home. Stay at Home Mom/Wife. Diagnosed age 33. Stage III, ER+, PR+. If she is not visiting family in Europe over the summer, she's busy ferrying her kids to after school activities, play dates and fun adventures. Occasionally also seen enjoying a Chai Tea Latte and omelet breakfast while catching up on the latest gossip with mommy friends. She recharges mentality with a good book (former teacher) or a long run. Maybe one day she will run that marathon - the hyper family dog is a good incentive. From Denmark but has lived in New Jersey for the past five years with her English husband and their two children - a girl age 8 and a boy age 6. Her husband and herself always think they will one day return to Europe, but there's still too much to see and experience living abroad. Vol 1, Issue 4: PARENTING WITH CANCER @thedaneinnewjersey
Tawny Rachelle. Diagnosed at 39, IDC stage ll ER+ Tawny was in a car accident in which her car was t-boned and totaled. Dealing with the normal aches and pains that followed, she accidentally discovered a lump in her right breast. After a double mastectomy and living breastless she is concentrating on getting back into her career as a hairdresser and make-up artist. She has been enjoying creating since 2001. Her love for hair is not the only creative outlet Tawny has. She enjoys art in all its forms. From paint on canvas to ink on paper she tries to, as she would say, make her soul happy. Vol 3, Issue 4; CAREGIVERS. @itsjustahiccup.
Tatum Reid. Photographer. Tatum has not been diagnosed with breast cancer. I am a wedding and lifestyle photographer based in beautiful Norfolk, but my work takes me all across the world. I absolutely love what I do, and that passion is what drives me. In all honestly, I can’t imaging doing anything else. I get a front row seat at one of the most intimate days’ of people’s lives, travel the world, visit amazing places and make friends every time I pick up my camera. Vol 1, Issue 2: LOVE @tatum_reid and tatumreid.com
Amanda Ross. Diagnosed at age 29. IDC, Stage III, later changed to Stage IV. Amanda lives in small town Ohio with her husband, two-year-old son, and mini goldendoodle. She was diagnosed with invasive ductal carcinoma breast cancer in August of 2015 at age 29 and found out it was metastatic in June of 2016. She isn’t letting her diagnosis slow her down and continues to teach 3rd grade full time. In her free time she enjoys binge-watching Netflix, cooking, biking, taking her son on adventures, going to concerts, and playing cards and games with her family and friends. Vol 1, Issue 5: MBC: YOUNG & STAGE IV
Marnie Rustemeyer. Entrepreneur. Diagnosed at age 45. BRCA2+, currently no evidence of breast cancer. Prophylactic double mastectomy and oophorectomy. Marnie founded Billow Global, Inc. after her diagnosis and surgeries. Vol 2, No 3: NEW NORMAL. @billowglobal and billowglobal.com and email: marnie at billowglobal.com
Christi Salcedo. Health and fitness coach. Diagnosed at age 30. IDC, Stage II, ER+. Christi's oldest son had just began kindergarten when she was diagnosed with Stage IIB invasive ductal carcinoma. Her youngest son was 3 years old & her husband was 1500 miles away at a Marine Corps duty station. It was so hard to face this new reality. However, after a rigorous treatment of 16 rounds of chemotherapy, a bilateral mastectomy & 33 rounds of radiation, Christi was declared in remission in June of 2015. Since then, she has found her passion in educating other young women & men on the realities of breast cancer,prevention and teaching others how to create a positive body image. She left her 10 year career as a makeup artist to pursue this passion as a health & wellness coach. In June 2016, a post of hers about the realities of forgoing breast construction & societal judgments vent viral & was featured in Cosmopolitan, Health, Women's Health & many more. She is nearing her 2 year remission date & could not be more thrilled & grateful to be thriving with her 2 children & husband. Vol 2, Issue 2: BODY @Christileesalcedo and Christi.salcedo at gmail.com
Jenny & Leslie Scagno. Jenny and Leslie are twin sisters chasing their dreams of empowering women, preventing breast cancer, and founders of Her Heart. They are Texas girls living the California dream in Newport Beach, California. Like their mother, who died of stage 4 breast cancer, they truly care about the world and the people in it. Both are planning to undergo bilateral prophylactic mastectomies soon. To date, neither have experienced incidents of breast cancer personally. Vol 1, Issue 4: PARENTING WITH CANCER @herheartsaves and her-heart.com
Jessica Semmel. Special Education Teacher, Social Worker (LMSW) and mom. Diagnosed at age 43. Microinvasive Ductal Carcinoma, Stage I, ER+, PR+. I am a special education teacher in a self-contained classroom in the South Bronx, NYC. I live with my amazingly intuitive, loving, and kind 9 year old son. Since being diagnosed with cancer, I have been on a spiritual journey that has a quiet and calm synchronicity to it. After 20 years of therapy, finding this deep spirituality has given me a deep sense of calm and confidence. Seven days before I was diagnosed with breast cancer, I was diagnosed with a degenerative retina disease. I couldn't imagine Id hear that I had cancer within the same week. I genuinely thought that on my walk to the mammo. Somehow though, with each difficult circumstance, the universe would send me a life raft and help me figure out a way to get through. I can't stress the importance of self advocacy. My gynocologist didn't call me once. I read every report on the radiology website and took every next step on my own (with help from my sons babysitters dad who is a radiologist in New Orleans and my friends aunt who is an oncological researcher and translated each report). I read I had cancer while sitting in my classroom. When I learned I was losing my vision, I felt deeply lonely. When I began reaching out about having cancer, the love and support poured in. I am eternally grateful for the love and support and I promised myself to keep my friends and loved ones so close and let day to day stuff go. I've learned what is important. I've learned to take care of me. Vol 2, No 3: NEW NORMAL. @flataftermastecomy
Renee Sendelbach. Artist/writer/speaker. Diagnosed at age 30. DCIS, stage I, ER-, PR-, HER2- (triple negative). Diagnosed at age 32, stage IV, triple negative. (Diagnosed at age 38, MDS pre-leukemia.) I grew up in Amarillo, Texas and moved to Austin, Texas when I was 22. I met my husband from in-line dating. I always get a kick out of how people react to this...they always say they have never met anyone who married from on-line dating. We had our son in 2007 and I was diagnosed in 2008. While in treatment for Stage 1, I realized all I wanted to do was be a mom. I was fortunate to be able to start staying at home with our son. I started painting mixed-media art while my son napped and it opened a locked door in my soul. I loved that I could inspire others with my art to follow their dreams no matter what situation they were in. Life went on like this until 2011 when I was diagnosed with Stage 4 breast cancer. It had grown and moved to my lungs and bones. More chemo plus a trial drug of a parp inhibitor led me to NED! My dance with NED ended in September, 2012 when we found a mass in my brain. Yes, it was breast cancer. Three brain surgeries later, I was once again NED. I stayed NED until June, 2016 when I was diagnosed with a secondary cancer of pre-leukemia. I will be getting a bone marrow transplant at the end of October to "cure" this. After the transplant recovery, I dream of speaking about courage, fear and how loving yourself is a must when going through anything in life. Vol 1, Issue 5: MBC: YOUNG & STAGE IV; Vol 2, No 3: NEW NORMAL. @ReneeInCancerland and ReneeSendelbach.com email: ReneeInCancerland at gmail.com
Shay Sharpe. President of Shay Sharpe’s Pink Wishes. Diagnosed at 26. IDC, Stage III, ER+, PR+. Diagnosed at 36. Stage IV. Shay had both of her breasts removed 1 week prior to her 27th birthday. Although she had a bilateral mastectomy in 2004, the cancer returned exactly 10 years later, at age 36. After Shay’s recurrence (2014), she decided not to have breast reconstruction or wear a prosthesis: she is flat and fabulous! Even though this beautiful young woman doesn’t fit society’s norms, she has been featured on countless documentaries, photoshoots and media outlets around the world including The Today Show, Allure Magazine, People and Huffington Post. Shay is the President of Shay Sharpe’s Pink Wishes, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization founded in 2011 that educates, advocates, offers one- on-one peer support, restores hope, provides college scholarships, and grants wishes to young women and children who have been affected by breast cancer. The charity is based in Baltimore, Maryland but they assist women nationally. In addition to being a community leader, volunteer, mentor and new grand- mother, Shay also sits on the Stakeholder Advisory Board for the Young Women’s Initiative, a joint venture with Johns Hopkins Hospital and the CDC. Vol.3, Issue 3: BODY. @ShaySharpesPinkWishes and ShaySharpesPinkWishes.org
Alyssa Smith. Office manager. Diagnosed at 38. IDC, stage III, ER+. On January 22, 2016 Alyssa was diagnosed with Stage II/III Invasive Ductile Carcinoma ER+ HER2-. She had 8 rounds of Chemo, a Lumpectomy with Axillary Lymph Dissection and Sentinel Node Dissection (2 cells found in Sentinel, 0 cells found in other 36 nodes). Result of surgery: three unclean margins. So on August 29, 2016 she had a simple mastectomy with tissue expander. Some cancer was found in the remaining breast tissue as well as the lymphs attached to the end of her breast but they were all removed. Alyssa is currently waiting to begin six weeks of radiation and then will have reconstruction surgery at a later date. She has been married for 5 years and has a beautiful 3-year-old son, Aiden, whom she fights this battle for every day. She is currently working on launching a blog, "Stay Strong and Fierce," which will not only chronicle her journey, but advocate for all women fighting this disease. Vol 1, Issue 4: PARENTING WITH CANCER @mommy2aiden and staystrongandfierce.com
Marcia Snyder. Diagnosed at age 39. IDC, stage II, ER+. I'm a 41-year-old who lives near Dallas,TX with my amazing husband and fur babies (2 greyhounds, 1 Italian Greyhound, and 1 enormous fluffy kitty) all of whom got me through my treatment. Now I'm flat and fabulous! Everyday feeling stronger and training to walk in the Dallas Susan G. Komen 3 Day Walk to raise money and celebrate my survival! Vol 1, Issue 3: NEW NORMAL
Dana Stewart. Entrepreneur, survivor mentor, and writer. Diagnosed age 32. Stage I, ER+. Dana was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2010 at the age of 32. She is the co-founder of a cancer survivorship organization called The Dragonfly Angel Society. She volunteers as an advocate and mentor, focusing on young adults surviving cancer. She enjoys writing about life as a cancer survivor, as well as connecting survivors to the resources, inspirations and stories that have helped her continue to live her best life. Vol 1, Issue 2: LOVE; Vol 2, No 3: NEW NORMAL. @dragonflyangelsociety and dragonflyangelsociety.com
Bez Stone. Writer. Bez coaches, trains, and speaks to women and couples about the sexual mechanics of women’s arousal, desire, and satisfaction. She debunks long-standing misunderstandings and presents the essentials of women’s physiology that women and couples need to know to generate radically fulfilling sex lives. Bez is a Stanford-educated writer, a certified sex and relationship coach, and an emerging authority in women’s sex and sexuality. She has helped thousands of women and couples reclaim their desires and discover true sexual fulfillment. An educator and consultant, she is sought after nationally by couples, women, and groups. To start utilizing feminine sexual mechanics to generate radically fulfilling—and nourishing—sex for women and couples, visit bezstone.com. Vol 2, Issue 1: LOVE
Ruth Sze. Illustrator. Ruth doodles and illustrates as a way of processing the challenges and changes throughout her life. She started Doodle Bubble Designs to share her work on wall art prints and greeting cards, hoping to encourage others to be courageous to share their gifts and stories as well. Art print gift for first 100 subscribers. @doodlebubbledesigns and doodlebubbledesigns.com
Jami Tilton. Photographer. Jami lives far from the maddening crowd in the deep woods of the Smokey Mountains where she spends her happiest moments outside, playing with her daughter Emmaline, and trying to capture their sun-splashed moments together on film. Although she is not a survivor of breast cancer, she understands all too well what it is to be a young cancer survivor. She lives with Polycythemia Vera jak 2+, a blood cancer, for which she was diagnosed at 27. Vol 1, Issue 1: PHOENIX: : Unless otherwise noted Jami provided all the photos for this issue. @emmalinesmom
Diana Vega RN, BSN, PCCN. Diagnosed at 29. Stage II, Undifferentiated Pleomorphic Sarcoma, ER+. At 29, with no family history, I was diagnosed with a rare type of cancer that does not usually appear in the breast tissue. Surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy later, I continued being a cardiac nurse at a respected medical center, and also pursued a career in fitness. NED for three years, still hard to believe that I could be this resilient, hopeful, and grateful for the littlest things. Vol 3, Issue 1: (IN)FERTILITY @dianamaevega
Meg Venter. Photographer. Meg has not been diagnosed with breast cancer. Meg is the photographer behind SeptemberWren, which began in Boston, in 2011. Searching for sunshine in a seemingly endless winter, Meg started marketing bright prints of photos taken while living in California. Five years later, SeptemberWren images ca be found in restaurants, hotels, and homes around the world. Meg's work has also been spotted in Apartment Therapy, Business Insider, Condé Nast Traveler, and many more! SeptemberWren is now happily headquartered in Santa Cruz, CA. Select works available locally at Artisans Gallery, or online. Vol 1, Issue 3: NEW NORMAL: Unless otherwise noted Meg provided all the photos for this issue. @septemberwren and septemberwren.com
Jillian Veran-Rezo. Beauty expert, currently VP of Beauty & Education at Volition Beauty. Diagnosed at age 49. Stage II, ER+. Animal Lover, old movie buff, Jillian Veran Rezo is a beauty expert with 25 years in the beauty industry. Know for her individual style and bubbly personality, her vast experience has taken her around the world, working for some of the biggest names in beauty. But, Jillian feels her greatest triumph is not in how many celebrities she has done, rather how many women she made feel like a celebrity. beatifulself.org and @jillianvrezoartistry and email: jveran at optonline.net
Starling Wickes. Cannabis Entrepreneur/Model. Diagnosed at age 34. ILC & IDC, Stage II. ER+, PR+. I grew up doing every sport I could get into: dance, gymnastics, basketball, volleyball, swimming, track, etc. At 12 and 14, I won state in swimming. I was even invited to the Olympic Training Camp. I broke several records and received many awards in my athletic career. In July of 2008, I found a lump in my right armpit. I thought OH NO! I just had a best friend who had been diagnosed and I was thinking "it can't happen to me," like we all do. At the time I found my lump in my armpit, my family, including my twin boys (toddlers at the time), and I had been working for a few months trying to move to California, so I put off my lump until we moved in September of 2008. However, by the time I got insurance and into a doctor it was December. My birthday, actually. Six months after finding the lump, I was diagnosed. I had a double mastectomy, by choice; a modified radical on the right and a simple on the left. I did aggressive chemo (ACT) for 24 weeks, then 6 and a half weeks of radiation. I finished treatment in December 2009. Life hasn't been easy, however, I'm almost 9 years cancer free now due to caring about what I eat and put on my skin/body. I try to exercise as much as my neuropathy allows and I take pride in my body. At almost 43, I look younger than most people think! I always end with this quote from Marilyn Monroe: "Everything happens for a reason. People change so that you can learn to let go, things go wrong so you can appreciate them when they're right, you believe lies so you eventually trust no one but yourself, and sometimes good things fall apart, so better things can fall together." Vol 2, Issue 2: BODY @queenglobz and facebook.com/starwickes and email: starwickes at yahoo.com
Charlotte “Charley” Wood. Entrepreneur. Diagnosed BRCA1+ at age 25. Prophylactic double mastectomy. (No breast cancer to date.) I'm a 27-year-old from Manchester, UK. I recently had a preventative double mastectomy to avoid breast cancer. I'm trying to raise awareness of the genetic mutations which put people such as myself at high risk for developing certain cancers. I also strive to remove the stigma of having ones breasts removed, and try to make women feel at ease and confident with their decision and ongoing journey. I have a new venture called Drain Dollies from which I donate the proceeds to a charity called Genesis, which focus their research solely on predicting and preventing breast cancer. Vol 1, Issue 2: LOVE @draindollies and draindollies.co.uk and theyaresistersnottwins
Dianne Russell Wraight. Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant - International Student Advisor (post-secondary). Diagnosed at 43. IDC, Stage I, ER+, PR+. Local recurrence at 46. I'm a two-time breast cancer thriver, busy navigating life with cancer brain and a flat chest. Having lived and worked on three continents and being the black sheep of my family, I march to my own tune and live for adventure. Advocacy is what makes me feel alive; I'm a member of the BC Cancer Patient Advisory Council, the national BRA Day Advisory Board (representing the flat voice), and the Patient Voices Network in British Columbia, Canada. I also run the Facebook group "Flat in Canada: Support and Advocacy." My incredible husband and two black cats fill my heart with more love than I ever imagined. Vol 3, Issue 2: MENTAL HEALTH @drwraight
Lily R. Young. Author. Diagnosed at age 25. IDC, Stage III, ER+, PR+, HER2+ (Triple Positive). Diagnosed at age 29. Stage IV. Lily is my pen name, which I am choosing to publish all memoir writing under for now. Names of friends and family members have also been changed for the sake of privacy. For a long time I didn't write about my experiences with cancer, because it felt too scary to put such vulnerable and raw material out into the world. Publishing as Lily allows me to write again while still giving myself the privacy that I need to process and face the challenges that come with living with stage 4 disease. Perhaps at some point I will feel ready to be more public; perhaps my words will always be written by Lily as far as everyone else is concerned. Either way, I can tell my story, and that's good enough for me. I live in California with my husband and dog. Vol 1, Issue 5: MBC: YOUNG & STAGE IV email: lily.r.young.author at gmail.com
Suzanne Zuppello. Freelance writer. Diagnosed BRCA1+ at age 27. Prophylactic double mastectomy. (No breast cancer to date.) Suzanne is a freelance writer living in Brooklyn. Her writing focuses on health, wellness, and current events. After testing positive for the BRCA1 genetic mutation, Suzanne began writing about her experience leading up to and after her double mastectomy and reconstruction in hopes to offer some comfort and community to other young women who find themselves in a similar situation. Vol 1,Issue 3: NEW NORMAL @suzannezuppello and Partlyprivate.life and email: suzannezuppello at me.com