A Newbie’s Guide to the Breast Cancer World
Just diagnosed? You are so not alone. Sabrina Skiles is here to introduce you to your new family.
The beginning of anything is always difficult. Changing your sleep habits. Adding more fruits and vegetables to your diet. Decreasing your spending habits. It can take more than 60 days for a new behavior to become a habit. Looking back, the adjustments to my life in the first two months of my breast cancer journey were extremely hard. But once I passed Day 60, it’s like something clicked and I was ready to keep going.
Just diagnosed with breast cancer? I know it’s hard. That’s why I put together a newbies guide, to help you tackle the breast cancer world with grace, vigor, laughter, and levity! Through these breast cancer fighters, resources, and support organizations, you’ll find encouragement to help you through this scary yet manageable season of life.
If you’re anything like me, once you get past the initial shock of the diagnosis, you want to research as much as you can. The more knowledge the better, right? But while cancer websites can shower you with statistics, and at every doctor’s appointment you’ll be inundated with medical terms out the wazoo, sometimes the best information comes from those who have lived through what you’re dealing with now.
The women I connected with, many of whom are listed below, have real-world experiences in this breast cancer world. Give them a follow and you’ll soon see why you need them in your world. And don’t forget to check out our own special section on breast cancer for the latest news on symptoms, treatments, and side effects.
My Favorite Breast Cancer Bloggers/Instagrammers
For me, connecting with support groups and women who were going through—or went through—breast cancer was more helpful than anything else. You know that old saying, “Nothing beats real-world experience”? I’d like to say that pretty much fits with the outstanding women here.
Annmarie Otis, @stupiddumbbreastcancer
I’ve known Annmarie since our health advocacy days where I shared my story about psoriasis and she shared her story about breast cancer. She was one of the first women I reached out to—I literally sent her a DM four days after my diagnosis asking to get invited to her Stupid Dumb Breast Cancer Facebook group. SDBC is a fierce and unconventional initiative to promote awareness, early detection, and advocacy. Trust me, it will speak to you.
Ceta Walters, @clarkandstone
Ceta reached out to me after watching one of my stories talking about how I took glutamine powder during chemo to prevent any neuropathy. She was at the beginning of her chemo journey as well, and we quickly became IG friends. I love how open and honest Ceta is about sharing her breast cancer journey while navigating motherhood (she named her blog after her sweet boys, Clark and Stone). Not to mention, she was going through a divorce as well. Her resilience will encourage you and her humor is what you need at a time like this.
Allie Brumel, @alliebrumel
Allie is a co-founder of The Breasties along with Jessica Bonilla, Brianna Majsiak, and Paige More. Allie is also a triple negative breast cancer survivor who was diagnosed at 28 years old. During her treatment, she knew she had to channel her energy into helping other young women affected by cancer, which is how The Breasties was born. Her gentle spirit and calm demeanor will talk any new breast cancer fighter off the proverbial ledge.
Bree Jordan, @cancerwontstopbree
I found Bree right around the time I was diagnosed; she had recently been diagnosed as well. Her Insta bio says it all: “One tough mother, fighting breast cancer and raising a baby.” The pictures you’ll find while scrolling her feed are so powerful, they will draw you in (like the one of her with a full head of hair looking over at herself, now bald #chills). Through Bree, you see the tough parts of chemo, but also how she fights to bounce back in life—like hopping on her cycle bike the day after her first chemo treatment.
Cat Levitt, @chickvscancer
I met Cat through The Breasties, as she’s the ambassador for the Colorado Breasties (where we both live). You’ll quickly see from her Instagram that she is all about promoting body acceptance after cancer. I never heard the word “foobs” before I connected with her—her openness will make you feel like you are best friends, right from the start. That’s what we all need right now.
Dana Dono, @daynadono
Wondering what you’ll be wearing post-lumpectomy and post-mastectomy? There’s actually a bra for that—and Dana’s the one to thank for it. She’s the founder and designer of AnaOno—a bra made specifically for women who have had breast-cancer reconstruction, breast surgery, a mastectomy, or any other condition that makes typical bras uncomfortable.
Paige More, @paige_previvor
Paige, a cofounder of the Breasties, is positive for the BRCA 1 gene and also a previvor: a survivor of a predisposition to cancer who hasn’t yet had the disease. It’s her unique storytelling of being a previvor that keeps you coming back to her page day after day.
Sabrina Skiles, @sabrinaskiles
Hi, that’s me! I started sharing my breast cancer journey because I felt alone, especially being diagnosed at 35 and having two young boys. I want to normalize the conversation around women’s breast health, and I want the age of getting mammograms lowered from 40 to 30, because early detection and prevention is key. The more we talk about women’s breast health, the more empowered women will be to make informed decisions when it matters most.
Top Breast Cancer Support Groups
I never encountered so much medical jargon in my life until I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I started following the organizations here because they provided relevant, intelligent, and (key word) understandable information. Go follow these groups—you can even reach out to them on Instagram with questions. You can thank me later!
A nonprofit organization dedicated to providing the most reliable, complete, and up-to-date information about breast cancer.
The Breasties, @thebreasties
This group of breast cancer survivors pretty much makes dealing with breast cancer look cool. “Free retreats, events, and community for women affected by breast and reproductive cancers.” Sounds good to me!
For The Breast of Us, @forthebreastofus
The first inclusive breast cancer community for women of color, this group was founded by two #breastcancerbaddies Jasmine Dionne of @bravebeauty26 and Marissa Thomas of @marissadt28. Their mission is to uplift women of color affected by breast cancer by sharing stories that educate, inspire, and connect.
National Breast Cancer Foundation, @NBCF
NBCF’s mission is to help women affected by breast cancer through early detection, education, and support services.
Look, if you’ve just been diagnosed, I know it’s a lot to take in. The people and groups here can help, but a breast cancer diagnosis is still a shock. Remember, give yourself 60 days and I’ll bet you’ll be feeling more in control of things. The breast cancer world is not the world we ever wanted to be a part of, but now that we’re here, we’re sure as heck going to keep fighting so we can live in everyone else's world, too.