#Stage4Lifer: Believing in Yourself

Catherine Brennan Williams, on the importance of  #Stage4Lifer self-advocacy and advocacy for MBC needs. 


As young women, we are taught to listen to our healthcare providers and trust their judgment. We don’t want to be rude or question our doctors, yet when something doesn’t feel right, it’s imperative that we listen to ourselves. We need to know our bodies and act quickly when we think something is wrong because young women can and do get breast cancer.

I know this all too well because my very first mammogram at the age of 40 revealed breast cancer and I learned shortly after, that it had also metastasized to my bones and liver. I was still young and healthy, I thought, yet now I had a frightening new reality: metastatic breast cancer, for which there is no cure.

Catherine BW.jpg

A friend of my sister who also has MBC gave me some very good advice right after my diagnosis – you have to be your own advocate. This seems so obvious, yet for me it hadn’t been. I remember thinking to myself—whatever happens, I don’t want this to happen to anyone else. I need to DO SOMETHING. I would do everything I could to be a part of my own healthcare team, advocate for myself, and even advocate for others.

This realization led me on a path to self-advocacy. Advocating for yourself is, in my opinion, the most important type of advocacy. If we are not working with our healthcare team, participating in major decisions as an educated person who is current on the latest research, trends, and clinical trials, then who is? Our oncologists treat hundreds of patients and we are all very different. What works for me, might not work for others and vice versa. Keeping track of your own treatment and side effects, writing questions in a notebook for your next doctor visit, and saving copies of your medical records are all integral to advocating for yourself and being a member of your own care team.

I was fortunate enough to meet a metastatic patient advocate who introduced me to the world of patient advocacy—advocating for others, the community, for researchers, and organizations. She encouraged me to apply for Living Beyond Breast Cancer’s Hear My Voice: Metastatic Breast Cancer Program. This training introduced me to other advocates, types of advocacy, and the many opportunities available for patient advocates. I had lost my career because of my diagnosis, so being able to channel my energy into something I was truly passionate about was like a new lease on life. I was able to bring my professional skills to the table and utilize my experience to help end this disease.

With some training and a new focus, I gained confidence to approach various organizations to work together on advocacy projects. This month, I am organizing the first-ever tent for MBC education at the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure in San Francisco. This partnership will help educate the public and raise much-needed awareness about Stage IV breast cancer— a diagnosis many people, even other survivors, are uninformed about.

IMG_1191 (1).jpeg

I am working with newly diagnosed women through my local support group—something that’s extremely important as I know the isolation and sadness that this diagnosis brings. My support group, established over 8 years ago for metastatic women diagnosed at age 45 or under, was there for me when no one else could truly understand my situation. I learned so much from them—about treatments and disease-related information—but also about living my life to the fullest, no matter how much time I have left. I remember meeting Jane, a woman who had been living with my exact diagnosis for almost 10 years. It was truly life-changing for me. She was working and very active, riding road bikes on the weekends for 50-75 miles at a time! As an active person, this was exciting. I knew that I had to keep doing the things I loved and that they may even help my prognosis. Because of these women, I began to feel that I still had a life to live—and it could even be a great one.

Other advocacy efforts I’ve become involved in include chairing the breast cancer team for the California Dialogue on Cancer, a CDC sponsored program aimed at reducing incidence rates and deaths from cancer in the state. I got involved with this program through a friend and when no one was willing to chair the team, I volunteered. A lot of advocacy is just being willing to take on responsibilities and take initiative when it’s needed.

I am also joining the advisory board of the MBC patient-advocate organization, METUP. METUP was founded by two Hear My Voice graduates from the 2015 class They saw the need for a group whose sole purpose is to end MBC through direct action. We partner with other organizations on events, like the upcoming Stage IV Stampede in Washington DC with METAvivor, to advocate for federal legislation increasing metastatic cancer research funding and challenge the status quo in the breast cancer community. MET UP knows that a cure will not be found until major changes happen in the research and legislative arenas. The number of women and men who die from breast cancer each year has not changed significantly in over 30 years. Something needs to be done, and MET UP is working on it.

Advocacy has become a big part of my life in a short amount of time. It has opened doors for me to take part in ground-breaking research, given me a platform to advocate for myself and others, and most importantly, it has given me personal fulfillment in a time when I needed it for survival. All it took was believing in myself.

Catherine is from the San Francisco Bay Area, where she lives with her husband, Chico, and their two miniature schnauzers, Coco and Charlie. She loves books, traveling, cooking & eating (She says, “I never met a pizza I didn’t like!”), the Oregon Ducks, and outdoor adventures. This year she’s training to hike Rim to Rim in the Grand Canyon and surf in Mexico! After a couple of life-changing experiences last year that helped her deal with her diagnosis, she adopted a new motto: We never have another chance at today.

#Stage4Lifer: Enacting Change with Advocacy for Metastatic Disease

Judit Saunders is a 2016 Hear My Voice: Metastatic Breast Cancer Outreach Volunteer. Judit’s post for #Stage4Lifer describes her journey and thoughts on advocacy for stage 4 breast cancer.


Judit (middle) on her way to the METUP die-in and vigil that took place after Thriving Together: Conference on Metastatic Breast Cancer.

After I was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer (MBC), I knew sitting around wallowing in my own self-pity wouldn’t benefit anyone, including myself. So I started to wonder how I could share my story and possibly change the landscape of this disease. In particular, I realized a real need for advocacy, especially for young women diagnosed with MBC.

As I started researching anything and everything I possibly could about my disease, I quickly realized that there had to be a change in shift in pertinence to our mentality about not only this disease but how we treated it. I also became acutely aware as to how my quality of life seemed to intertwine directly with what I was doing to help others…others also afflicted by this disease and this deep yearning to enact change.

MBC Advocacy has become almost like a calling to me at this point. I was a registered nurse working in pediatrics prior to my metastatic diagnosis. In all senses it was my dream career, and my life was as I had envisioned it to be. I was married and simply going through life with plans to start a family when I received the diagnosis. Sadly, all the dreams that I assumed would materialize into reality, such as having children, abruptly came to a halt and I had to accept the very fact that all the sure things in my life would all become a big, fat question mark. I think this self-realization as to who I always knew I would be suddenly garnered a complete change of shift.

I started blogging about my experience, and then I developed a public Facebook page, which then led me to create a public Twitter profile, which helped me to network with others. Suddenly, I felt like I had a purpose again. I was the girl who didn’t even have Facebook prior to this diagnosis! Now I was suddenly using FB as a tool to both educate others, while also telling my story in hopes of helping other young women in a similar situation to see that it was still possible to be a productive member of society, and that there was still a life after a metastatic diagnosis.

Advocacy work provided me with opportunities that I never would have gotten to experience had I not dove into this world. I have had the opportunity to become a Living Beyond Breast Cancer Hear My Voice Advocate, which took me to Philadelphia for LBBC’s MBC conference and allowed me to meet other MBC advocates, which further fueled my fire to help.

The thing with this type of advocacy is it empowers patients, but at the same time it rips your heart out with emotion. This is because all the amazingly strong men and women I met with MBC were all essentially dying. Everyone at this conference was living on limited time with this proverbial clock ticking away. We are all driven to help simply because it suddenly becomes so much more than about ourselves. It becomes about all our friends. The very people we know and share our lives with. These are the people that I would desperately love to pluck off this terminal cancer ship, and place on solid ground. Advocacy in the metastatic setting is the only way I can hope for a future. If I don’t fight for my life, and the lives for those I care for deeply, then who will?

From Philadelphia, advocacy took me to Toronto, where I got the opportunity to further advocate for medicinal cannabis thanks to a great organization geared towards young women with MBC: Rethink Breast Cancer. This was yet another topic that was never on my radar prior to MBC. I had never even tried cannabis in my life and yet there I was speaking passionately, and publicly, about a topic that I felt had merits for other individuals diagnosed with cancer. That was my driving force. If it had such a positive impact on my life, then I felt it was my duty to inform others of this so that they could legally access cannabis to help them through their cancer experience.

Judit Photo 3.jpg

Judit took part in a Facebook Live discussion about medical cannabis with ReThink Breast Cancer.

So there I was speaking in front of others, on a live Facebook feed that generated over 20,000 views! Advocating passionately had allowed me to do things that I never would have done before.

Advocating has its moments of elation, especially when you know you’ve made a positive impact, but it also consumes you. This is deeply personal and I have invested not only my time, the single most valued aspect of my life, but I have done this because we have a deadline. A deadline that looms heavily over all of us. The clock is ticking, and every year over 45,000 men and women die in North America alone from MBC. This is a pandemic that will not change unless we stand up, advocate, and become those persistent, inpatient, and kindly demanding voices.

I do this wholeheartedly because, without a cure, the death rate will continue to climb, and our voices will go from screams to muffled sounds until we are no longer heard. I refuse to sit back and allow our voices to become silenced. We are here, and we demand to be heard.


You’ve heard Judit’s voice. Raise yours. Join #Stage4Lifer and share your MBC experience on Twitter and Instagram.

 Judit Saunders was diagnosed with locally advanced breast cancer at the age of 26. In 2014, age the age of 28, she learned she had metastatic breast cancer. She’s now 30 with mets to the bones and brain. Judit is a registered nurse (on disability now, but once a nurse always a nurse), married to the most supportive hubby she could ask for, lover of HOT climates, beaches and travel! She loves painting, pottery, blogging, optimism and focusing on research and everything/anything MBC-related.

#Stage4Lifer: A Plane No One Wants to Board

Hear My Voice Volunteer Kristi Stone, on being her own healthcare advocate, educating others and enjoying life to the fullest. Join the #Stage4Lifer campaign with Kristi!


I am one of the faces of metastatic breast cancer. I’m Kristi Stone,  a 46-year-old wife and mother of two daughters. Describing what MBC is like is akin to waiting in line to board a plane that no one wants to board. I was diagnosed at age 44, on Christmas Day, 2014, with de novo (or initial diagnosis with) metastatic, or stage 4, breast cancer that spread to my bones, neck to knees, and innumerable lesions in my liver.  Being told treatment would not likely work and that I had about 30 days to live, was the biggest shock of my life. I received the news in such a cold, heartless manner at an emergency room, by a doctor who simply gave the news and then just walked away.

I researched and found an oncologist, sure that the doctor at the ER had to be wrong. I wish that had been the news I got,  but my initial  diagnosis was correct. My new oncologist told me the same thing. I ran out of that office, fell into some sticker bushes crying as hard as I ever have. I went home and tried to gather my thoughts. I went to see my oncologist and asked if we could at least try treatment. We decided to try. I’m very thankful that I did!

I was barely able to walk. I was using a wheelchair most of the time, because I had become so weak. I’ve felt better with every month I’ve been on the prescribed oral chemo. The treatment has been very effective for me. I have three brain mets,  but they are very small and stay controlled.

I enjoy life as much as possible, finding joy in the simplest things. I try to help others through my advocacy work, reminding folks that a metastatic breast cancer diagnosis can happen to anyone, at any age, even if you live a healthy lifestyle. And that research is our best weapon against it.

My goal is to live with MBC the best I can, continuing a quality life as long as possible. My priorities are spending time with family and friends and pushing for more research for this deadly breast cancer, so that this disease stops claiming thousands of lives a year. I want out of this line, and I don’t want to board that MBC plane. I don’t want to see anyone else have to get on either.

In the meantime,  I will enjoy each day I’m fortunate enough to have, and have the time of my life at every opportunity! Living, laughing and loving.


You heard Kristi’s voice. Raise yours. Join #Stage4Lifer on Twitter and Instagram.

Stage4Lifer: Menopause and MBC at Age 40 – The Journey I Didn’t Choose

Young people can be diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer. For Stage4Lifer, Dionna Koval writes about learning she had metastasis to her bones at age 42.


I had my first mammogram on my 40th birthday and continued to do them each year after that. In April 2014, months after my annual mammogram, I just finished moving into a new home and started having pain under my right breast. I thought I pulled a muscle from moving and ignored the pain. By the next day the pain was so unbearable that I couldn’t breathe.

My mother finally convinced me to go to the emergency room. Once there they did a series of tests, including a CT scan. By mistake the tech did the scan higher up on my breast; thank God she did because that’s how my lump was found – along with 3 broken ribs. My last mammogram was done in September of the prior year so I wasn’t that worried but in the back of my head I kept thinking what if. I was sent to do another mammogram and ultrasound. It was then that the radiologist told me he was positive it was cancer without even doing a biopsy. I had the biopsy done, and the wait for the results drove me nuts. Sure enough on April 25 I was told I had breast cancer.

Hearing the words, “You have cancer,” at 42 was like a punch in the gut, especially since I had my mammograms regularly. My life came to a halt. I have a son and am divorced. I wondered how I was I going to get through all this. Little did I know, I hadn’t even heard the worst news.


By that Monday I was contemplating whether I was getting a single or double mastectomy. Before I could make a decision, my surgeon called to tell me that we weren’t doing the surgery anymore; my doctors learned that the cancer had progressed to my bones – I was officially diagnosed with stage IV breast cancer. Once again I was devastated. Many thoughts ran through my head. I thought my diagnosis meant I was going to die soon.

I met with my oncologist the following Monday and couldn’t even hear what she was saying. It was tough for me to wrap my head around all of the terms being used and the news overall. The type of cancer I have is ER/PR-positive. My healthcare team and I decided upon a treatment plan and I started that day. It consists of three injections of Faslodex and Lupron. Here I am, in my early 40s, and put straight into menopause. I was told my cancer would respond best to this treatment, and I’ve been on it for the last 2 years.

At the beginning of my journey, I realized that I didn’t even know a lot about this cancer and neither did my family and friends. Why is it that something this serious was never talked about? How could I have lived without knowing more about MBC? Now that I have this diagnosis, how long do I have left? This cancer will eventually kill me but I’m not ready for that. I need answers, I need a cure! I’m living my life as I always have done but with more of a mission, if that makes sense. Since I don’t have the answers I need or want I will not let anything stop me from enjoying time with my son, family, and friends.

Looking back to the beginning of my nightmare, I can’t imagine doing any of this alone. I learned a lot about myself and people that I thought were friends. My biggest support system has been my parents. I live with them now because there are times I need help. I feel secure and safe knowing I have them in my corner.

My biggest fear is dying soon and not seeing my son graduate from high school, start college, get married, have children. I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels this way. I’m there for every milestone my son has. I don’t care how sick I am or how much I’m hurting – I will never miss time with him.

This journey was not one I would ever have chosen but this journey has made me stronger than ever. This journey allowed me to meet other strong women like myself. This journey will help me educate women who don’t know what MBC is. This journey motivates me to raise my voice for for those that need to understand our need for a cure. I might not be able to change the world as quickly as I’d like, but I will make a change. I plan on saving my own life, to be there for and with my son. This journey has not taken the fight out of me. I will live my life with determination, purpose and most of all love. Negativity doesn’t belong in my life and “no, I can’t” isn’t something I say. This journey may have chosen me but I will make this journey the best one yet!

You heard Dionna’s voice. Raise yours. Join #Stage4Lifer on social media.

Dionna Koval is 44 years old and was diagnosed with breast cancer on April 25, 2014. She later learned she had stage IV disease that spread to her bones. She’s lived with the disease for more than two years. She completed LBBC’s Hear My Voice: Metastatic Breast Cancer Outreach Volunteer Program training this past April. When she’s not educating others about MBC, she enjoys spending time with her 14-year-old son, family and friends.

#Stage4Lifer: “I Am Not What Happened to Me”

Stage IV, or metastatic, breast cancer is breast cancer that has spread beyond the breast to other parts of the body. For #Stage4Lifer, Hear My Voice Volunteer April Hines reflects on her diagnosis with the disease and how it’s changed her life.

“I am not what happened to me. I am what I choose to become.”
-Carl Jung


April and her husband at Abram’s Falls on the Appalachian Trail. It’s one of the places they hiked for their honeymoon.

Originally diagnosed with early stage breast cancer in 2012 at age 31, I endured every treatment available to me (surgery, chemotherapy, radiation and hormonal therapy; then later ovarian suppression and an aromatase inhibitor). After it all ended, I thought myself to be cancer-free. I moved on to choosing what I dreamed my life would become: getting married to the love of my life in October 2015, spending my honeymoon climbing mountains and planning for the future overall.

Shortly after returning home, I went in for a routine exam at my primary care physician’s office. The end result of this routine exam and everything that came after it  was this: getting diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer (MBC) in January 2016. I now have breast cancer in my bones and liver.

I think the most important lesson I’ve learned thus far is that there is no right way to cope. The impact of learning you have metastatic breast cancer doesn’t stop affecting you on the day you learn the news. It takes time to work through the grieving process.

I can tell you that it’s not advisable to Google statistics. And, it’s okay to have the same expectation for your family and friends. I choose to spend my life creating amazing moments and not focusing on how many celebrations I might have left.

After absorbing my reality – there is no cure for metastatic breast cancer – and having my world turned upside down, I felt terribly alone. I felt that I’d failed my loved ones; that somehow people would think that I did something wrong. I found there were people in my life that weren’t able to handle my diagnosis – people who are no longer in my life. While I threw myself into advocacy educating the public on my disease, I found that others weren’t comfortable hearing my truth. I finally realized that it’s not my job to make someone feel better about this disease. This isn’t a pretty pink ribbon and we don’t have to romanticize our stories to make others feel better. I try to ask my friends that are uncomfortable hearing about this disease to remember that it’s even more difficult to live with it, especially with no support.


April and her husband enjoying her mom’s chicken noodle soup on the day she was diagnosed with stage IV breast cancer. She says, “If our parents hadn’t helped us out that day and the days that followed, I’m not sure how we would’ve managed.”

There are days where I’m enveloped with the “what if” thoughts. I am reminded by those who’ve been going through this for a while that it takes time to work through the grieving process. Some days I feel “normal” and can focus on advocacy work. Other times, stress means I need to step away from social media and advocacy for a period of time. I’ve found it important to repeat psychiatrist Carl Jung’s quote to myself over and over. It’s important that I remember that I’m still me; this is just me learning to live with metastatic breast cancer.

If there can be anything positive about this diagnosis, it’s the support. The silver linings are friendships with all the wonderful women and men who are MBC patients and those I’ve met through nonprofit organizations such as Living Beyond Breast Cancer, METAvivor and MET UP. Today there are so many social media connections that can be made globally on platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

When I first posted that I had been diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer in a breast cancer support group on Facebook, someone pointed me to online groups for MBC. Through those support groups, I found out about Living Beyond Breast Cancer’s Thriving Together Metastatic Breast Cancer Conference and thankfully my husband and I were able to attend in April 2016.

I can’t tell you in words how incredibly powerful it was to make these connections with people in the same situation as us. We celebrate each other’s victories as they’re our own victories, and we suffer the defeats the same way –  together.

And, I believe one day we’ll achieve what I feel is the ultimate dream – better treatment options and improved quality of life for metastatic cancer patients, turning this terminal disease into a chronic condition. Until then, in the words of Dylan Thomas, “I’ll not go gently into the night; I’ll rage against the dying of the light.”

You’ve heard April’s voice. Raise your voice with #Stage4Lifer.

See April takeover our Instagram account @livingbeyondbc this Wednesday, September 26!

April Hines was originally diagnosed with stage IIB breast cancer in January 2012. She was later diagnosed with stage IV breast cancer on January 22, 2016. When she and her husband are not fighting breast cancer, they’re taking care of their dogs, hiking and kayaking near their home in the Chattanooga, Tennessee, area, and spending as much time as possible with their two nieces and nephew.

Overcoming Fear of Family History: Caitlin Kelly

Written By Robin Warshaw, Contributing Writer

For most of her life, Caitlin Kelly was afraid of cancer. Her grandmother died of ovarian cancer at 57. Caitlin’s mother, then 37, was treated for early-stage breast cancer. Twin aunts on her mother’s side both had ovarian cancer and died. A maternal great-aunt died from breast cancer, as did that woman’s daughter.

“Since I was a little girl, there was always the presence of someone being ill,” says Caitlin, 33, who lives in South Portland, Maine.

Caitlin Kelly_for blog

In her teens and 20s, she became aware that changes or mutations in a BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene can run in families, causing higher risks of breast and ovarian cancers. Genetic testing can determine if a woman or man has a BRCA mutation.

Her mother’s diagnosis happened before BRCA testing was available. One aunt later tested positive for a BRCA1 mutation, but her mother thought Caitlin was too young to be tested and have the burden of results weighing on her. Caitlin believes her mother was trying to protect her from discrimination related to genetic information.

As she got older, Caitlin heard that women should start being screened for breast cancer 10 years before the age at which their mothers were diagnosed.

“That would have been when I was 27, but I was too scared,” she says. Having breast cancer or ovarian cancer “was something I thought was probably inevitable but I just wasn’t ready to face.”

Delaying Action

Instead, like many young people, she focused on school and her career. She was close with the aunt who was BRCA-positive and who had lived with ovarian cancer for 6 years, so “when she passed away, it was really difficult for me. I think that contributed to my fear,” she says.

Her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer again when Caitlin was 29. This time, it was in the opposite breast and was a more aggressive type. She tested positive for a BRCA1 mutation.

Caitlin took time off from working as an apparel designer to help her mother in Massachusetts. Her mother’s doctors strongly advised Caitlin to get breast cancer screening and genetic testing. At her mother’s first chemotherapy session, the doctors had a genetic counselor come in to speak with Caitlin.

She did not follow up with the counselor. “I had a really hard time with my mom getting cancer a second time. I couldn’t possibly think about myself,” she says. The pressure from the healthcare professionals made her feel uncomfortable, “even though I know to this day that it’s really great they pushed me.”

About two years later, Caitlin went for her first mammogram. She had early-stage, hormone receptor-positive, HER2-positive breast cancer in one breast. She also tested positive for BRCA1.

Paying for Fertility Preservation

After talking with her surgeon about the characteristics of her cancer, genetic risks and family history, Caitlin decided to have a double mastectomy and reconstruction. The surgeon encouraged her to see a fertility specialist about freezing her eggs before chemotherapy might damage them.

“I had to accept that other people needed to help me.”

Having children hadn’t been in her thoughts. She had just started dating a man two weeks before her diagnosis. They are now in a committed relationship.

Under pressure to act quickly before chemotherapy, she was upset to learn it would cost $6,000 for egg removal plus one year of freezing. “I don’t have that kind of savings and they don’t do the procedure until you pay all of it upfront,” she says.

Independent by nature, Caitlin didn’t like being public about her situation, yet realized “I had to accept that other people needed to help me.” Her mother started a blog to tell friends and family what was going on. That inspired Caitlin’s cousins to set up a GoFundMe page to raise money for egg preservation. The cost of fertility medicines was covered through LIVESTRONG Fertility.

She had 32 eggs extracted and frozen. The eggs can be tested for genetic mutation before being used, a fact Caitlin calls “a silver lining.”

“That means I can hopefully not pass this down to anybody else if I’m blessed with a child,” she says.

In that way, she can help write a new chapter of family history.

#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.