“Talisman”: Of Luck, Love & Life

Tracey Derrick - breast cancer photography - self-portraiture

In this image of Tracey Derrick with her two young daughters, she managed to capture so much more than mere words are able to convey… What did your heart bounce back to you when your eyes beheld this trio of warriors?

TAKEAWAY: “How To Tell Your Young Children You Have Breast Cancer”

via LatinaMomTV

I Have Cancer & This is What I Need You to Know

i have cancer_lynn edwards

The presentation of some evidence-based ideas on the pathway to optimistic care and support of those with advanced breast cancer. By LB Edwards (August 2015)

These ideas are based on the research findings of 3 studies (2 International surveys and one local (SA) qualitative research project):

Count Us, Know Us, (2013). Join Us Advanced Breast Cancer Survey, Harris Interactive,. (Read here.)

•Mayer M., Hunis A., Oratz.R., Glennon, C., Spicer, P., Caplan, E., & Fallowfield, L. (2010). Living with metastatic breast cancer: a global patient survey. Community Oncology. Sept 2010 (406-412)

PLWC Cancer Advocacy Research Project (2014). Pv 41, Pv 58, Pv 130 , Pv 131, Pv 132, Pv 137. PLWC National Photovoice Project: ABC focus Group. Edwards L & Greeff L (Eds.) PLWC CT South Africa. plwc.org.co.za

Survivor Day: Putting the ‘I’ in Survivor!

As we’ve been researching breast cancer survivorship online this week, we’ve been reminded just what a wide and deep subject ‘diagnosis’ really is. In fact, survivorship can almost only be 100% ‘defined’ clinically – because to each of us, it means something uniquely different. For example, some survivors believe in Pink as a symbol of hope, joy and resilient femininity, whilst others feel that Pink stinks – that it’s a blatant slap in the feminine face of their breast cancer reality. (How do you feel about Pink? Tell us on our Facebook page!)

So because we can only touch on the very tip of the survivorship-iceberg, we’ve created an ABC of Survivorship for you – and included links to more in-depth articles for you to explore!

Advocates for Breast Cancer - diagnosis

ACTIVE ADVOCACY: As a survivor, you are in the powerful and perfect position to be a voice for the voiceless. You have so much practical knowledge and emotional experience to be very effective in raising awareness and driving breast cancer education  forward thoughout our country and all its communities. (Saying that, never allow anyone to pressure you into it unless you feel it’s in your heart!) ***Connect with us on Facebook to see how we can help you get involved!

BOOKS ARE BRILLIANT! Just one example is Stealing Second Base:  A Breast Cancer Survivor’s Experience and Breast Cancer Expert’s Story by Lillie Shockney. Get browsing amongst the abundance of books out there to equip and encourage yourself!

CARE: What exactly is a ‘survivorship care plan‘?

DEFINITION of Survivorship: We want to know what YOUR definition of ‘survivor’ means! Please join us on Facebook and tell us what you think!


FAMILIES & FERTILITY FACTS – and how, as a family, you can understand and embrace survivorship.

Pregnancy after early-stage breast cancer has not been shown to impact breast cancer recurrence or survival. It is often recommended that you wait for some time after completing all cancer treatments (including endocrine therapies) before trying to get pregnant since your body has been through so much. There is no magic formula of when the best time to get pregnant is after you complete treatment. You should work with your doctor to make decisions that are best for you and your family. For more information, visitwww.fertilehope.org or www.myoncofertility.org.” ~ via John Hopkins Medicine (READ MORE HERE.)





LIFESTYLE and its changes that come with being a survivor.

MYTHS (10 of them!) surrounding survivor care.

Your NEW NORMAL: ‘… you’re about to embark on another leg of the trip. This one is all about adjusting to life as a breast cancer survivor. In many ways, it will be a lot like the life you had before, but in other ways, it will be very different. Call it your “new normal.”‘ ~ via Gina Shaw for Webmd

OPTIMISE OPTIMISTICALLY: Visit CancerDietician.com to optimise your nutrition and lifestyle – and click here for a delicious resource of their recommended recipes!

PINK: Pink Ribbons, Pinktober and Pinkwashing! As a survivor, has this colour got you tickled pink? Or are you of the conviction we should adamantly think before we pink(Read more about the history of the pink ribbon here.)


REDUCING RISK OF RECURRENCE: Click here to read about 10 ways you can reduce your risk of breast cancer recurrance.

SEXY SURVIVORS: the video discusses everything as medically as you need to know about every possible issue like menopause, vaginal dryness etc. (Of course, besides the physical side of sex as a survivor, there is the heart-side to it which is just – and if not more important.)



VIDEOS — about breast cancer and survivorship. Click here!





(PS. You may be wondering why we’ve left some letters blank? Well, because today is Survivor Day, we would like to suvivors by asking you to fill in the blank letters in the Survivorship ABC with topics most important to YOU! Tell us on Facebook – because ABC wouldn’t be complete without you!)

Teen a Rock & a Hard Place

What do I say to my teenager?

For many people, the first question that they ask when they hear their breast cancer diagnosis is:

“What am I going to tell my children?”

Telling My Teenager About My Cancer - Advocates for Breast Cancer


Each of us may have a different answer to that question, depending on our own preparedness to talk about our illness. There is no set rule about what is right and wrong: each family’s journey will be different, and each family will find their own, unique way to adjust.

Here is some advice about talking to your children, of any age, but in this blog we want to touch on how to speak to your teenager about your illness.

The adolescent years are notoriously difficult when it comes to inter-generational conversations at the best of times. Adding cancer to the mix just complicates an already fraught situation. Sometimes parents reflexively pay attention to the needs of their younger children, but assume their older children understand the situation and will be able to cope. Result? Their ‘normal’ teenager needs are not heard, let alone their fears and feelings surrounding their parent’s cancer and how their lives will change.

According to oncology counsellor Shara Sosa, the very nature of adolescence fights against openness of any kind, nevermind the cancer in the family:

“With their kids locked behind a mask of teen indifference, parents are often intimidated and don’t know how to talk to them.”

Teenagers, very naturally as part of their maturing into adults, pull away from the insular unit of their family, forging their own identity. The news that a parent has cancer yanks the adolescent violently back into the fold – exactly where they don’t want to be. Other teenagers respond by defying their developmental stage, assuming responsibilities that normally fall to the parents. Out of sync with their peers, these kids sometimes talk about their ‘real age‘ and their ‘cancer age‘.


CancerCare has excellent, experienced advice for how to meet some of these child-parent challenges:

  1. Teenagers are unpredictable. Recognise and acknowledge that there are a variety of responses teenagers may have, and keep in mind that teenagers may be uncomfortable with some or all of their feelings and thoughts about your cancer.
  1. Teenagers want detailed information. This is especially true when it comes to information about diagnosis, treatment and prognosis. They may seek out further information on their own in addition to what you have provided.
  1. Teenagers need to know the truth and may feel particularly patronised or sensitive to information they feel is incomplete or inaccurate.
  1. Teenagers need privacy. They may or may not want to talk about the experience with their family. Reassure your teenagers that they can receive support from other sources, like an aunt, a friend’s parent, a teacher, clergy person or another member of the extended family – or even a professional cancer counsellor.
  1. Teenagers often write about and reflect upon their inner thoughts. Encourageyour teenagers to share these feelings and concerns. They can also channel this energy to athletics, music, journaling or other creative arts.
  1. Teenagers who want to contribute to caregiving should be allowed to participate in tasks that respect they are not adults, and yet no longer young children.
  1. Encourage teenagers who want to accompany their family member to treatment in order to see the facility and meet the treatment team. This can help them feel more in control about how your medical care is provided.
  1. Teenagers need consistency. Make an effort to ensure that they will still attend normal activities and social events.
  1. Teenagers struggle with the need for independence. A parent’s illness may make this more difficult. Encourage your teenager to spend time with friends in age–appropriate activities.


  1. Teenagers are often self-conscious. A teenager whose parent has cancer may feel even more different. To help your teenagers understand there are others going through a similar experience, you might suggest that they participate in a support group, peer-to-peer network or online chat room.