The Power of Social Media

This Facebook post helped save my life.

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During Breast Cancer Awareness Month in 2010, my sorority sister, Laura Figueroa, was posting messages like this one to her Facebook page daily in an attempt to reach her goal of raising $1,000 to benefit Susan G. Komen’s Miami/Fort Lauderdale Affiliate. I had never donated to a breast cancer organization before and didn’t personally know anyone directly impacted by the disease.  But I made a donation that week to support my fellow LTA sister and Florida Gators J-School alumna.

It was during that same week that I discovered a lump in my breast one evening as I was changing my sports bra after a workout. At age 30 and with no family history of breast cancer, mammograms were not even on my radar, nor was breast cancer. I often think of how I could have easily overlooked that lump as a serious symptom had it not been for this Facebook post and the subsequent email that I received from Komen after making a donation.

Because of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I made an appointment with my primary physician. At that appointment, I learned I was pregnant. About a week later, after a breast ultrasound and biopsy, I received the call that would change my life: It’s breast cancer.

Ironically, Facebook is also the platform that I used to break the news of my diagnosis to the majority of my family, friends and colleagues.

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Read my interview with the Today Show on how I used social media to break the news of my diagnosis.

After my diagnosis, I used a private Facebook group to keep my closest family and friends updated on my treatment and journey. Still, I didn’t know a single person who had breast cancer, much less a survivor who had battled the disease while pregnant.

One night, after my medical team and I had determined the best course of treatment would be to undergo chemotherapy as soon as I entered my second trimester, I sent a tweet out to the Twitterverse: I am pregnant with breast cancer and I am scared. I didn’t expect a response; I simply wanted to vent. But I received a response from a woman in Indiana who had battled breast cancer while pregnant several years prior. That was the beginning of a friendship that would blossom over 2 years before Heidi and I met in person when I was honored as a Pink Power Mom.

It was soon after that connection that I found my way to a breast cancer chat on Twitter that is actually bigger than a mere hashtag: #bcsm. Short for Breast Cancer Social Media, the #bcsm chat is an online network of breast cancer patients, caregivers, physicians and advocates. I tuned in to the #bcsm chat weekly and tapped into the knowledge of women who had navigated through a similar journey. It was through this chat where I first learned about metastatic breast cancer and survivorship issues.

Using the #bcsm hashtag, I’ve connected with other TNBC survivors and women like myself that faced a diagnosis at a younger age. Through Twitter, I have been able to connect with a handful of other women who battled breast cancer while pregnant and have also helped to support newly diagnosed women. I prefer this social media platform to keep updated with the latest research and news related to breast cancer.

Social media has served as a powerful tool in my journey with breast cancer. Not only has it served as a news source, but social media has connected me with some amazing people and provided access to medical experts and answers to many health-related questions. Social media has been my lifeline on days that I just need to vent about the disease and life in general. The connections and knowledge that I’ve gained from social media networks have empowered me to become a better, more educated advocate for my own health and for others.

Triple Negative Breast Cancer Day

TNBC Day logoTriple Negative Breast Cancer Day is a national day (3.3.14) devoted to raising awareness of triple negative breast cancer and generating funds to advance medical research and provide support to those impacted by the disease. TNBC Day, spearheaded by the Triple Negative Breast Cancer Foundation, will bring thousands of supporters nationwide together for grassroots fundraising and awareness events in a combined effort to tackle this disease.

As a 3-year triple negative breast cancer survivor and TNBC Day Champion, my goal is to help women like myself find the support and resources they need to fight this disease. I know that sharing experiences and knowledge is an essential part of the journey. I also know that education is key. That is why I want you to know the facts about TNBC. Did you know that:

  • TNBC tends to be more aggressive, more likely to recur, and more difficult to treat because there is no targeted treatment.
  • TNBC disproportionately strikes younger women, women of African, Latina or Caribbean descent.
  • Approximately every half hour, a woman in the US is diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer.

As a TNBC Day supporter, I am also helping to raise funds by hosting Tee for a Cure, an online t-shirt fundraiser. When you purchase a Tee for the Cure t-shirt ($20 + shipping) via TeeSpring, you will help the Triple Negative Breast Cancer Foundation in its mission to find a targeted treatment for triple negative breast cancer and support those impacted by the disease.

TNBC Day T-Shirt - Tee for a Cure

Tee for a Cure will help the Triple Negative Breast Cancer Foundation in its mission to find a targeted treatment for triple negative breast cancer.

Enter for a chance to win a Tee for the Cure t-shirt!

Simply leave a comment on this blog post telling me why you support Triple Negative Breast Cancer Day. Be sure to include your email address or connect with your social media network so that I can reach you if you win.

Triple Negative Breast Cancer Day is a vital way for survivors, advocates and supporters to share hope, raise much-needed funds and make a difference in the fight against triple negative breast cancer. Will you join me?

Learn more about TNBC Day and how to get involved now.

Serenity’s Pink Ribbon

As I was putting away Serenity’s clothes last night, Serenity was busy drawing on her easel. She turned to request my attention – and abruptly got it when I heard her say, “Look, Mommy, I drew Team Roxy with my pink marker.”

I peered out of the closet to see what 2-year-old Serenity had drawn and saw this: (Look in the lower left hand corner)

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What she knows and understands at this age amazes me. It is true what Fyodor Dostoyevsky said: “The soul is healed by being with children.”

Day 3: Hope

I dedicate the final day of my 3-Day journey to Hope — for breast cancer fighters and survivors. I dedicate today’s walk to my survivor sisters who are battling this dreadful disease, day in and day out. Today, I also honor those who we’ve lost due to breast cancer.

I know today will not be easy. In fact, it might take all I’ve got to not give up. But when I feel that I cannot go on any further, you, my friends, will be my inspiration to keep going.

Breast Cancer Survivors

I’ll see you at the finish line!

Day 2: Strength

3-Day supporter iconI dedicate Day 2 of my 3-Day journey to Strength – my Team Roxy supporters. You have inspired me so much throughout my journey with breast cancer. You kept me going strong on the toughest of days. You uplifted me during the trying times. You cheered me on as I overcame breast cancer. And you continue to support me in this never-ending journey. I asked for your support in helping me reach my 3-Day fundraising goal and you stepped up to the plate once again.

I want to send a special thanks to my 3-Day supporters:

  • Ruben Garcia
  • Gerald Shelbon
  • Pedro, Norma & Blade Soto
  • Ashley Cisneros
  • Mauricio & Kimberly Narbona
  • DJ Rodriguez & Teresa Salzido
  • Monica Raya
  • Gloria Cruz & Madrid Family
  • Vanessa Trevino & Family
  • Natalie & Christina Ibarra & Gilbert
  • Lydia DiGiovanni & Family
  • Yanira Robinson
  • Patricia Martinez (Mom)
  • TJ Jones, Top of the Line Sports
  • Diamond Hill/NorthSide Youth Association (DHNS)
  • Alaide Zavala
  • Dora Trevino & Freddy Rivera
  • Verizon Foundation
  • Veronica Gonzalez
  • Elsa Gustafson
  • Zeida Galan & Team Forrest
  • Angela Henning
  • Dorothy Head
  • Adam Martinez
  • Wendy Borrego
  • Bruce Turpin
  • Lee & Hiedi Arellano
  • Debbie Schutkowski
  • Renee DeLeon
  • Susan Gonzalez & 100 Perks of Cancer Gals
  • Monica Rosas, Lilly and Lilla
  • Timesha Sanchez & Family
  • Lambda Theta Alpha ~ Beta Gamma Chapter
  • Lambda Theta Alpha ~ Notorious X Chapters
  • Lambda Theta Alpha ~ Florida Sisters
  • Gilbert DeLeon & Family
  • Lisa Lea
  • Angie Pagan
  • Bruce Russo
  • Dr. Michael Cherkassky
  • Lori Kelly
  • Laura Salazar, Carlos & Family
  • Anthony DeFelice & Morvarid “Mo” Rezaie
  • Veronica Rosas, Destiny & Ivan
  • Sheryl, Jaden & Elijah Foster
  • Erica Martinez
  • Lydia DiGiovanni
  • Alisha Hudman
  • Rosanna Flores
  • Gail Attaway

Team Roxy Supporters, I could not do the things I do without your love and support. It means the world to me! Give yourself a pat on the back, as you are such a huge part of my journey. Also, please feel free to use this 3-Day Supporter icon. You are the reason I am here today. THANK YOU!