#WeAreAllTheFaceofBreastCancer This October
BARD1 | STAGE 1
In Her Own Words…
One day, when I was 29 years old, I took a shower and found a suspicious lump during a breast self-exam. From that day forward my life was forever changed. I was soon diagnosed with an early stage triple-positive breast cancer, even though I was “too young” for breast cancer and had no family history. After taking a genetic test, I also learned that I carry the rare BARD1 mutation, for which the initial research shows an increased risk of breast and ovarian cancer.
What lay ahead – over 1 year of chemotherapy infusions, hair loss, and multiple surgeries – was the hardest experience of my life. To get through the biggest challenge of my life, I learned I would have to do things differently. Every time I faced a hard moment, I reprogrammed my mind to find something to be grateful for. Doing this actively, even when I didn’t feel like it, made a huge difference in my outlook.
Most importantly, I found gratitude in having a voice that could change how other young women like me experience breast cancer. During my diagnosis, I learned what it was like to feel like you don’t belong because you are bald, or because talking about health is taboo in your brown community. I want all women who walk this path to know that their beauty flows from within and that cancer doesn’t define their worth. And learning about your health history, doing self-breast exams, and talking about breast health doesn’t have to be scary – it can be empowering and lifesaving.
What has been the most challenging part of your journey?
Losing my hair was the most challenging part of my diagnosis. Hair loss, in my opinion, starts the moment you are diagnosed and learn that you’ll need chemotherapy. And it ends when you are finally comfortable with your hair again, after regrowth.
Hair loss was tough because I experienced painful side effects that I wasn’t expecting. It also made worse the identity crisis that breast cancer had created in my life. Losing my long curly locks made it difficult to recognize the woman looking back at me in the mirror. Wearing a wig made me feel inauthentic. Chemo beanies made me look like a sick person. It was challenging.
I am grateful I felt bold enough to pursue a more fashionable hair loss solution. I used all the negative things hair loss had created in my life as inspiration to create turbans that helped me feel like myself again. Finding beauty in head coverings that resonated with me also helped me find beauty in myself again.
What one thing you want all breast cancer patients to know?
How you talk to yourself about your story is one of the most powerful acts of self-love. You are the heroine and this is a story about how you persevered, overcame, and learned to thrive as the best you. And each day, the good and the bad, is part of that story. Don’t ever forget that.
What is your superpower?
The ability to create beauty in any situation is my superpower. Some days this means unblurring my vision in order to see silver linings. On other days it means discovering new ways to feel confident and empowered during survivorship. Finding beauty is a mindset and it can help you see yourself and your world with more love, no matter what you are going through.
What is your theme song?
What is your favorite movie?
Breakfast at Tiffany’s
What is your go-to snack?
Hawaiian salt and pepper macadamia nuts. They are so nutritious and great for healthy hair growth!
What your spirit animal?
My rescue cat whose name is Lady Gaga.
What is your favorite food?
I am a foodie and really love to eat. My top three foods would be sushi, New York pizza, and south Indian cuisine.
If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be?
If I could travel anywhere in the world, I would sail across the Mediterranean sea with my husband.
“You may say I lost everything. But I still had my be-dazzler”
— Lady Gaga
WE ARE ALL THE FACE OF BREAST CANCER