Young women with high cancer risk and early-onset breast cancer blog their way through diagnosis and treatment with humor, strength, and grace.
Blogging Through Breast Cancer
Earlier this year, we highlighted a few mental health bloggers on WordPress.com. Many people with health challenges use blogs to vent, commiserate, and inspire — check the diabetes, celiac, or fibromyalgia topics to find networks of bloggers sharing treatment tips, success stories, and more.
Women coping with young-onset breast cancer or with the BRCA gene (the mutation that prompted Angelina Jolie’s mastectomy) are building a particularly robust, feisty community. Here are a few survivors speaking out:
Twenty-three-year-old Rachel Horn is already observing the second anniversary of her bilateral prophylactic mastectomy — the complete removal of all her breast tissue in response to testing positive for BRCA. She chronicles the surgery and its aftermath on Ticking Time Bombs:
Along with descriptions of the BRCA genes and resources for women at risk, Ticking Time Bombs walks readers through the entire process of diagnosis, decision-making, surgery, breast reconstruction, and post-op adjustment. Now two years post-mastectomy, she’s as likely to be posting tips for dating post-surgery and roundups of the best bikinis for women with reconstructed breasts as she is to muse on life after a mastectomy.
Maria Ennis-O’Conner got her diagnosis at age 34. Now physically healthy after nine months of surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation treatment, she finds herself struggling to shape a post-cancer identity. Frustrated with the resources she found, she decided to create one — and Journeying Beyond Breast Cancer was born:
On Journeying, Maria weaves together resources to help breast cancer survivors rebuild their lives, from new studies to inspirational tweets, with her own reflections. For real-time conversation, she also organizes the monthly Breast Cancer Chat Europe on Twitter; follow #BCCEU the first Thursday of each month at 8:30PM GMT to participate.
Another blogger saw a hole in the resources available to women facing difficult decisions about their cancer risks: a lack of critical feminist analysis of treatment and support options for those with the BRCA mutation. She filled the gap with The Risky Body:
Her provocative blog picks apart the economic realities of diagnosis, the troubling messages she sees in initiatives aimed at supporting women at risk, race-based inequalities in treatment, and more. The Risky Body is essential reading for anyone interested in the “business” of cancer treatment from a feminist perspective.
FORCE — short for “Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered” — is a nonprofit dedicated to supporting the 1,000,000+ women and families affected by hereditary breast and ovarian cancers caused by the BRCA mutation. Sue Friedman, FORCE’s executive director, blogs on WordPress.com:
She uses her blog to advocate for research and treatment initiatives that support long-term health for women with the BRCA mutation, and offers thoughtful analyses of media coverage of BRCA issues and research.
Although a distressingly high percentage of women will face breast cancer in their lifetimes, far fewer are confronted with the risks of a BRCA mutation or early-onset cancer. Blogs give these young women a way to connect with others, learn more about their diagnosis, and create a deep support network.
Those are what I call strong women.
Thanks so much for sharing my blog Journeying Beyond Breast Cancer here. I want to extend a very heartfelt welcome to anyone reading this who is looking for an online space to share their story and connect with other breast cancer survivors who understand the path they are on. You can also download a free ebook on the blog with words of advice for the journey. Wishing you all healing and happiness
More power to them! Got to admire their courage and tenacity.
This was a fabulous idea! I’ll have to check out some of these blogs; my mom passed away from breast cancer at the age of 31 (hard to believe it’s been 20 years). But she’s the youngest person I know to have had it; most women I know were older when they were diagnosed, so it’s interesting to read about other young women who’ve been diagnosed with breast cancer.
I used to read Susan Niebur’s wonderful blog, Toddler Planet several years ago, where she talked about the challenges of trying to have a career and raise two young boys while fighting breast cancer. She passed away in 2012, but her site is still up and it’s full of resources.
I’m 27 years old, and my blog is all about my journey with breast cancer. I’d love if everyone took a minute to look through it and follow. It’s a real, and non sugarcoated. Hope you enjoy!
Great list of resources! Young Survival Coalition (YSC) is a non-profit dedicated to the critical issues unique to young women and breast cancer. There is a blog, and a website filled with free resources, survivor stories and helpful information. Young women can connect online and in their local communities. http://www.youngsurvival.org/
The whole of my Mother’s side of our family was wiped out by breast cancer before the age of 50 and lo and behold, I was also diagnosed at 42. WordPress was a great way for me to tell people what was going on without having to talk about it in person every day because there are days when you just don’t want to tell people how difficult it is. I’ve built long distance friendships thanks to the blog and although many of my friends are stage 4 we are in this together and always will be. http://www.fecthis.wordpress.com
I know someone she is currently fighting breast cancer. She has already undergone one mastectomy and after returning to work for a while the cancer has returned. She is a wonderful human being and she also has young kids. I can only imagine how she feels when she thinks about them. Every woman should get tested, especially if there is a history of the disease in your family. These types of blogs will encourage newcomers to learn more about breast cancer and also help those fighting with the disease or who have lost loved ones to have support.
I think it is awesome to have read through and seen that people are blogging about their experiences. I have lost several relatives to cancers of various forms and have a few friends struggling their way through the battle right now and I try to message them as often as I can to encourage them but now am going to have to share this info with them :) thanks for sharing this with us..
Writing has been such a therapeutic process for me through cancer. Seeing all of these stories just makes me appreciate how lucky I am for early detection and a sound prognosis.
Thank you for sharing these amazing women’s blogs. Their strength and support in sharing their stories for other women battling cancer is so inspirational.
It makes me feel my blog is so superficial to their depth, stength and honesty.
As a 10 year young survival, I love these blogs. Great resources for people when diagnosed.
My mom is a Breast Cancer survivor of ten years! I know that blogs like these would have helped her exponentially throughout her treatments and recovery. I am excited to read more, in an attempt, to learn more about what women go through when they are battling for their lives. Thank you for sharing!
Good on you! Inspiration!