#mybodytude: Redefining Beauty After Diagnosis and Treatment

Tonie Jones, panelist for our July 14 Breast Cancer 360 program,  blogs about redefining beauty for #mybodytude. Read other posts in the mybodytude photo diary series.

After she began treatment for metastatic breast cancer, Hear My Voice Outreach Volunteer Tonie Jones forced herself to rediscover her body’s strength and beauty. The esthetician chronicles her “bodytude” from before diagnosis, after and beyond in this photo diary for the #mybodytude campaign.

Go to Instagram and share your selfie after a breast cancer diagnosis – use #mybodytude and you’ll have the chance to win a Visa gift card!

Visit LBBC.ORG to learn more about this selfie contest and campaign.

Tonie 1

My name is Tonie. At the age of 43 I had started a new career as an Esthetician and Makeup Artist. I was finally living my dream. I was also thrilled that I had finally gotten back down to a size 10 in jeans. Little did I know I was thin because I was sick. Four months after this picture was taken I was diagnosed with Stage IV Metastatic Breast Cancer. #mybodytude #breastcancer #bodyimage #baldisbeautiful #bodypositivity #dontignorestageiv #cancersucks #bcsm #breastcancerawareness #metastaticbreastcancer

Tonie 2

I was scared of so much. I was scared of how cancer would change my looks. I was scared of how my clients would react to me as I began to lose my hair and eyebrows. But, mostly I was scared of dying and leaving my three daughters without a mother. I had to fight and, I had to live. #mybodytude #breastcancer #bodyimage #baldisbeautiful #bodypositivity #dontignorestageiv #cancersucks #bcsm #breastcancerawareness #metastaticbreastcancer

Tonie 3

Man, did my makeup skills come in handy once the hair was gone. I did a lot of wigs and head wraps to hide my diagnosis at work from clients. But, when I would get home and wash it all off I had to face the reality of my life. The image in the mirror minus the makeup and wigs was hard to swallow. It was like watching myself disappear slowly. No hair, no lashes, no eyebrows and no facial expressions. I had become a shell of the person I once was. #mybodytude #breastcancer #bodyimage #baldisbeautiful #bodypositivity #dontignorestageiv #cancersucks #bcsm #breastcancerawareness #metastaticbreastcancer

Tonie 4

As my hair began to sprout up I faced the challenge of losing my breast. In August 2014, I had a double mastectomy without reconstruction. Talk about changes to your #mybodytude. After, losing so much of myself I physically I had to dig deep emotionally to find myself again. #mybodytude #breastcancer #bodyimage #baldisbeautiful #bodypositivity #dontignorestageiv #cancersucks #bcsm #breastcancerawareness #metastaticbreastcancer

Tonie 5

This picture was taken at my fist LBBC conference for MBC. This was the first time I was in room with other women who had the same body challenges that I had. It was liberating to look across the room and see others who had just grown their hair back, had just lost their hair and other beautiful women who were breastless. It was the first time in a long time that I had felt beautiful and not embarrassed about my body in really long time. #mybodytude #breastcancer #bodyimage #baldisbeautiful #bodypositivity #dontignorestageiv #cancersucks #bcsm #breastcancerawareness #metastaticbreastcancer

Tonie 6

This is me today! On July 15th, it will be two years since chemo ended. I’m not cured but I am stable. I am grateful for everyday that comes. The brows are thinner, I am back to wearing my wigs and extensions, Although, I work out pretty regularly I am 25lbs heavier than I was when I was diagnosed. Everyday, I find an issue with my body. I hate summers and tank tops. It’s so hard to work that out with bras and prosthesis. I begin my journey of reconstruction in October. All that being said life is to precious to really worry too much about the extra pounds, and stunted hair growth. I look in the mirror and I see me. Beautiful, strong, courageous me. That’s my #mybodytude. #breastcancer #bodyimage #baldisbeautiful #bodypositivity #dontignorestageiv #cancersucks #bcsm #breastcancerawareness #metastaticbreastcancer

Share your bodytude after breast cancer on Instagram with #mybodytude! Follow these instructions for the chance to win a gift card for joining the campaign.

See what others are posting to #mybodytude on Instagram.

Get more information and hear more of Tonie’s story during our free program on Thursday, July 14, Love, Sex and Relationships: Body Acceptance After Diagnosis.


Tonie Jones is an ethetician in the Denver, CO area known as The Brow Snob. She was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer in 2014. Follow her on Instagram: brow_snob.

#mybodytude: Physical Changes and Clothes Shopping After Stage IV

Bald Ballerina and Hear My Voice: Metastatic Breast Cancer Outreach Volunteer Maggie Kudirka’s #mybodytude post on her body image and clothing style changes after a metastatic breast cancer diagnosis. Read other posts in the mybodytude photo diary series.

 

Your attitude toward your body and how you express it may change after a breast cancer diagnosis and treatment. In this photo diary, Bald Ballerina Maggie Kudirka discusses how treatment for metastatic breast cancer changed her approach to clothes shopping and her overall “bodytude”.

Read Maggie’s photo diary and share your bodytude about breast cancer and body image on Instagram! Use #mybodytude and you’ll have the chance to win a Visa gift card!

Visit LBBC.ORG to learn more about this selfie contest and campaign.

1st picture

I’m Maggie, also known as the Bald Ballerina, diagnosed at age 23 with metastatic breast cancer. I was a thin but curvy dancer with a full bust – far from the small-breasted ideal ballerina shape. I often wished my breasts were much, much smaller. It would make fitting into costumes and finding clothes that fit much easier. #mybodytude #breastcancer #bodyimage #metastaticbreastcancer #terminalbreastcancer

2nd Picture

Before I was diagnosed, I wore bright, colorful clothes; there were very few neutrals in my closet. I don’t know if it was because I was more carefree or if it was because I had to wear black leotards in ballet class. #mybodytude #breastcancer #bodyimage #metastaticbreastcancer #terminalbreastcancer

3rd Picture Photo Credit Lucas Chilczuk

One of the challenges of being a dancer with a full bust is keeping your chest from becoming a distraction. You don’t want people watching your bust go up and down during a jumping combination or checking out your cleavage when you bend forward. So I had to find good, supportive bras and then find leotards that covered up straps. (Photo Credit: Lucas Chilczuk) #mybodytude #breastcancer #bodyimage #metastaticbreastcancer #terminalbreastcancer

4th Picture

The morning after my double mastectomy was one of the happiest days of my life. The source of my cancer was gone and I finally had the body I always wanted – no reconstruction for me! My surgeon Dr Neil Friedman told me that was my silver lining. My smile tells the whole story. #mybodytude #breastcancer #bodyimage #metastaticbreastcancer #terminalbreastcancer

5th Picture. Photo Credit Andrew Holtz

Since I no longer needed a bra, I could wear any kind of leotard – spaghetti straps, low back, one shoulder, etc. I loved the freedom this offered me. Later that year, I worked with one of my favorite choreographers on a new piece. It was a relief that I did not need to worry about how supportive the costume would be. Photo credit Andrew Holtz #mybodytude #breastcancer #bodyimage #metastaticbreastcancer #terminalbreastcancer

6th Picture

Cancer raised my awareness of the toxic chemicals that are ubiquitous in our environment, not only in our food and household items, but also in the fibers used to make our clothing. I now make an effort to purchase clothes made from organic, sustainable fibers that are undyed or dyed using non-toxic natural dyes. As a result, my color palette has become more muted and neutral. I appreciate the subtle shades of undyed natural fibers like wool, linen, and cotton and I like that no toxic chemicals were used to produce or dye the fibers. #mybodytude #breastcancer #bodyimage #metastaticbreastcancer #terminalbreastcancer

Share your bodytude after breast cancer on Instagram with #mybodytude! Follow these instructions for the chance to win a gift card for joining the campaign.

Learn more about body image, dating and relationships during our free program on Thursday, July 14, Love, Sex and Relationships: Body Acceptance After Diagnosis.


Maggie Kudirka, known on social media as the Bald Ballerina, was diagnosed with stage IV breast cancer in 2014 at age 23.  She was a member of the Joffrey Concert Group in New York City before the diagnosis put her dancing career on hold. Following surgery, Maggie went back in the studio to work on regaining her strength, stamina and technique. She hopes to return to dancing in New York City again. Learn more about Maggie on her website, baldballerina.org, and follow her on Instagram: @baldballerina.

mybodytude: Losing Your Hair as a Hairstylist

Hair stylist Allyson Lynch shares a photo diary on hair loss, body image and breast cancer for our blog and Instagram campaign, #mybodytude

A reality of breast cancer: it not only changes your body, but also your bodytude (the attitude you have toward your body and how you express your attidue to life), too! Allyson Lynch kicks off our #mybodytude Campaign with her story about hair loss as a stylist.

Read Allyson’s photo diary and share your bodytude about breast cancer and body image on Instagram! Use #mybodytude and you’ll have the chance to win a Visa gift card!

Visit LBBC.ORG to learn more about this selfie contest and campaign.

Allyson 1

My name is Allyson and this is 26 year old me. All smiles after growing my hair long for a few years and finally mastering my own blowout. Haha. Unbeknownst to me that would all soon change. I’m here to tell a little part of my story and showing what #mybodytude was like losing your hair as a hairstylist.

Allyson 2

My biggest fear was seeing giant clumps of hair falling out in my hands, so, instead of waiting for the inevitable I wanted to take control. I had a head shaving party right before my first treatment and some of my closest friends and family shaved their heads with me. Having that support was one of the biggest gifts I received. It was hard to see the hair go that I had just spent so much time growing out but in a weird way it was freeing, I kinda felt bad ass like G.I. Jane.

Allyson 3

After a while I totally embraced the bare head, it was awesome and wigs were way too hot, especially when you were having a hot flash. Yea, I could have rocked that baldness 24/7 but what got me the most was all the other hair – eyebrows, eyelashes, nose hair! I did what I could with makeup when I felt up to all that. Being called “fella” in public a few times did not help with #mybodytude at this point.

Allyson 4

As my hair grew back “old man style” – pretty much there was hair on all sides and the top of my head had bald spots for so long. I still refused to wear wigs for longer than a few hours, even though I collected quite a few because my hair stylist side got really excited for the options. But until my hair started to grow in without any super visable bald spot I just continued to shave my head up until a couple months after treatment ended.

Allyson 5

And this is me today at 28 years old, just about a year and a half post treatment. I’ve taken the weird growing back stages in stride, experimenting and having fun with my colors and cuts. I’m loving my long pixie-hawk I started to sport earlier this year although I miss the ease of not having to do a thing with it. Cancer taught me how to say “screw it” and that small philosophy helps keep #mybodytude more positive. Life’s short, its ok if your hair is too.

Share your bodytude after breast cancer on Instagram with #mybodytude! Follow these instructions for the chance to win a gift card for joining the campaign.

Discover more insight and tips around body changes, dating and relationships during our free program on Thursday, July 14, Love, Sex and Relationships: Body Acceptance After Diagnosis.


Allyson Lynch is a hairstylist who  lives and works in suburban Philadelphia. She was diagnosed with breast cancer in April 2014. She later learned she was a carrier of the BRCA 1 gene mutation. Follow her on Instagram at @horror_cosmic.

Get [empowered] with us. (Part 1)

In 1991, Living Beyond Breast Cancer was formed when Marisa C. Weiss, MD, a radiation oncologist, held a conference with the help of some of her patients. Their goal was to provide a safe space where women could gain accurate and easy-to-understand breast cancer information from medical experts, while finding and connecting with each other.

Margaux Jacks (nee Garbowski) is the daughter of one of those patients.  This is the first of her two-part story for the Living Beyond Breast Cancer 25th Anniversary Blog Series.

 

mom-dad-meIt was 1980, and I was four when my parents sat me down at our kitchen table in our ranch home in the suburbs of Philadelphia to have a talk. While I can’t recall everything that was said, one detail that would impact my life in ways I could never imagine at such a young age was when my parents brought up the “c word.” In that moment, my life changed in a profound way. Ahead of me would be a mix of highs and lows, so many sweet moments, and yet so many other terrifying ones. Whether we liked it or not, we were in for the roller coaster ride that is a cancer diagnosis.

At the age of four, I didn’t ask about my Mom, Nancy S. Garbowski, living or dying. And I was unaware that Mom could die. I knew she was going to the hospital, and hospitals made people better, right? She would be ok, the doctors would fix her, that’s what doctors do. I drew her a card to take to the hospital, on construction paper, with pretty flowers and signed it with love.

I can’t imagine what was going through my Mom’s mind. She always seemed so calm about it with me. She must have been so scared, as her Mom had died of metastatic breast cancer when she was four; her Mom was just the young age of 31. Was history going to repeat itself?

mom and meWhen she came home, I saw her scar from the amputation. In my little voice, I called it the train tracks. It was one long red line about one-half to one-inch thick in sections that went from the center of her chest all the way into her armpit. It had equally thick cross lines, same red that gave it the train track look. She smiled at my observation. I’m guessing she enjoyed my innocence.

Mom healed and life went on. She didn’t talk about cancer with me. When the next one came, I was a few years older, and understood more. When Mom was not feeling well, we would hunker down as a family — helping each other with all the routine chores of life, while making sure Mom was as comfortable as possible. While Mom, Dad and I bonded in such a profound way, there were also consequences, as it was stressful to be the main support for someone. Plus, I could not relate to how she was feeling. I could not provide any support in the huge decisions she faced with her treatment. My Dad shouldered a lot when it came to being there for my Mom.

We handled it together as a family. Her cancer allowed us an opportunity to share many intimate experiences, many girls would not share with their Mom at that age. During chemo I would help her walk outside and together we would blow clumps of her hair into the wind. As the locks of her hair would carry through the air, we would make a wish. I can recall the twinkle in her eyes. She was so proud to have given me life, even as hers was ending.

I held the family secret for years. I never told anyone, not a friend, not a neighbor. Finally, one day sitting with one of my best friends playing cards in our cabin at sleep away camp, I said it: “My Mom has cancer.” It felt so weird to utter the words — to see her reaction, her understanding of the seriousness of something like this. And that was it. I didn’t speak of it again for quite some time. It felt awkward to reveal something that was deeply private.

My Mom kept it mostly private too. I’m not sure how she processed all that she was enduring. But then she met someone who would help her in ways none of us imagined.


25th Anniversary Mark

Nancy didn’t know it, but she and a small group of fellow patients were about to help in the creation of something that would forever change the way women diagnosed with breast cancer could access trustable information and connect with a community they could depend on. Margaux’s story concludes with the second part of her blog which will be published later this week.

The Whole You: Lessons Learned After Moving from Nurse to Patient

Best-selling author Hollye Jacobs, RN, MS, MSW, blogs about three lessons she learned after she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Join us for our Annual Fall Conference, part of Wellness Weekend in Denver, CO this September 18-20 to meet Ms. Jacobs, to hear her speak and get a free copy of The Silver Lining Companion Guide in your conference goodie bag at registration for the event. 

As a healthy, happy, vegan-eating, marathon-running, 39-year-old young mother with absolutely no family history of breast cancer, being diagnosed with the disease in 2010 literally shattered my world. As a health care professional, I very quickly moved from the side of the hospital bed into the hospital bed.  This transition from nurse to patient taught me profound life lessons.

Jacobs_Hollye_2014

Lesson #1: Honor the feelings and let them out.

Prior to my experience with breast cancer, I was a grin-and-bear it kind of girl who was reluctant to share any feeling other than joy. However, once ‘Roid Rage (the intense feelings of anger brought on by pre-chemotherapy steroids) and Chemo-Sobby (tears at the drop of a hat brought on by the chemotherapy flowing through my veins), and the Freight Train of Fatigue (courtesy of the rads of radiation beamed into my body) entered my life, I had no choice but to let all of my feelings out. I was too exhausted to muster the energy to make them look “pretty.” And you know what? Expressing feelings, all feelings, happens to feel good. Really good. Though I no longer have ‘Roid Rage, Chemo-Sobby or the Freight Train of Fatigue (thank goodness!), I continue to openly express my feelings. And it still feels good! No, actually, it feels great! Continue reading

The Whole You: Is it Hot in Here?

Flashback Friday: Randi Rentz’s summer 2015 post from our blogging series, The Whole You, which focuses on a side effect that impacts a number of women in treatment for breast cancer– menopause. Get tips for coping with menopausal symptoms during our Twitter Chat on February 24, 2016, Heated Topic: Menopausal Symptoms and You.

Randi Rentz new headshot

Ah, summertime. Long, sunny days. Outdoor cookouts. Lounging by the pool.

Say what??? Make that: Long, sweaty days. Internal cook-offs. Lunging for the pool.

Summer can be difficult if you’re in the midst of perimenopause or menopause. Geez! I first experienced menopausal experiences while receiving chemo. It got worse once I went on  tamoxifen. I also had to have a hysterectomy, which totally threw me for a loop. That procedure, of course, put me in permanent SCREAMING and KICKING menopause.

For those of you who have experienced menopause – naturally occurring or induced by cancer treatment – you know exactly what I mean when I say that hot flashes absolutely STINK!! Not only do they rock your world in a moment’s notice with absolutely no warning, but they (at least mine) are all consuming and utterly UNCOMFORTABLE! Well, let me be more specific: the truth of the matter is that my mind is a wasteland of emptiness during which I am at a complete and total loss of words when a hot flash comes on. They so overwhelm me.

Irritability, mood swings, sudden burst of crying. They’re all part of this new phase in my life. I am now menopause symptomatic (a.k.a. Itchy, Bitchy, Sweaty, Sleepy, Bloated, Forgetful and Psycho).

The number one symptom for me: hot flashes, cold flashes and night sweats. Now, these aren’t the sweats of relaxation you’d feel in a sauna, or the rewarding ones indicating you’ve just exercised This is more like: OMG, I’m on F%$#ing fire.  Call 9-1-1….Nooow! Continue reading

A Refreshing, Calm Morning with a Community of Support

Marcia Pinkstaff blogs about her experience with breast cancer, Yoga on the Steps and the importance of community.

image

Almost 3 years ago, my life changed forever when I heard those awful words, “You have stage III invasive ductal carcinoma breast cancer.” Breast cancer? Stage III? How is that even possible? Those are the immediate thoughts that raced through my mind. Will I survive? What will life be like after?

I’m excited to tell you that in addition to advances in research and care, which have made early-stage breast cancer, mostly curable, there are also many exceptional programs to help you get your life back after diagnosis. Living Beyond Breast Cancer offers many of these programs including webinars, seminars, a conference, and my personal favorite Yoga on the Steps. LBBC has an amazing team that wants to help you navigate life after diagnosis.

Many organizations raise money for treatments and to deal with the health aspect, but there are so many additional challenges that a survivor must face including financial and mental health issues. The stress of having cancer and what’s to come can overtake you if you let it. LBBC is here to help you face these outlying issues and treat the whole person, mind and body.

I attended my first Yoga on the Steps in Denver, about a year after my diagnosis. At that time, I had finished chemo, a double mastectomy and radiation. I also had the opportunity to share my story, which can also be therapeutic, or at least it was for me. At that point, I still looked like a survivor and didn’t feel like myself, but participating in an event with such a wonderful group of people as the sun comes up is not only refreshing and calming, but a fun way to start your day.

I hope that you will join us for Yoga on the Steps in Kansas City and/or Denver. I would love to meet you and hear your story. And if you’re new to yoga or LBBC, I’d love for you to join us for this inspiring outdoor event. Yoga is a great way to not just help you physically deal with some of the new obstacles through stretching and even just getting some exercise, but also helps to relax you…something that is just as important.

Someone asked me the other day if cancer defines me. I thought it was an odd question. I responded “no.” Cancer doesn’t define me. It’s a part of who I am now and has changed me, but I get to decide what defines me. Cancer is just one of the many things that have shaped my life. You never know if and when you might here those words, “you have cancer”, and I hope you don’t. If you ever do, you will be appreciative of organizations like LBBC and the sense of community that they bring.

Cancer is a lonely disease. Surrounding yourself with others who have been there gives you something that you can’t get from your friends and family who haven’t been there. No matter how much someone loves you and thinks they know what you’re going through, they cannot possibly understand. I love all of those who tried, but I know even with family members who had cancer, I never fully comprehended what the journey was like until I lived it. Please join me in supporting this wonderful organization that gives so much back to the community.

Marcia Pinkstaff is an independent representative and star leader at Silpada Designs Jewelry and a stage III breast cancer survivor.