What You Wish You Knew About Breast Cancer

Once you receive a breast cancer diagnosis, a million things run through your mind. One of the big things is how much you don’t know before getting caught in the cyclone of treatment with no time to process until you’ve entered the survivorship stage. This podcast will dive into the nitty-gritty of what you wish you knew then and what you know now. Listen to patients share their stories in digestible bites. Each episode will help you feel less alone, informed, and hopeful. From SHARE Cancer Support, this is Our BC Life podcast.

If you would like to be a guest on the podcast, please email ourbclife@sharecancersupport.org.


S2 E5 - Gender-Affirming Care with Transgender Breast/Chest Cancer Survivor

Guest: Spencer Hayward, a transgender man and survivor of invasive ductal (IDC) breast cancer

Breast/chest cancer can take away a lot, but it can also give a lot. Spencer Hayward, a transgender man and survivor of invasive ductal (IDC) breast cancer, shares his journey from diagnosis to experiencing surgical frustrations and what it is like to receive gender-affirming care. The weight that lifted after his double mastectomy was physical and Spencer shares an amazing moment where his nurse recognized him as a man. His life mottos are spreading joy, kindness, and grace to others. Spencer emphasized the importance of allowing individuals in the LGBTQIA+ community to live fully and authentically in their truth. The conversation turned philosophical as we discussed empathy and acknowledging one's struggles. In the words of Elton John, Spencer is still standing.


S2 E4 - The Importance of Storytelling and Patient/Doctor Relationship

Guest: Doretha Burrell, Stage II Invasive Ductal Carcinoma (IDC), HER2+

It is crucial to establish a strong partnership with your care team following a breast cancer diagnosis. In this episode, Doretha Burrell, a 17-year stage II invasive ductal carcinoma (IDC) survivor, emphasized the significance of the trust and rapport she built with her oncologist, which greatly contributed to her healing and participation in a clinical trial. She also shared a lighthearted anecdote about using the “cancer card” to get out of a speeding ticket. Doretha highlights the importance of sharing our stories because they bring hope to our loved ones and even strangers while helping to humanize us to our medical team.


S2 E3 - Shifting Expectations With Breast Cancer In Your 20s

Guest: Kelsey Litwin, Stage IIB Triple-negative (TNBC), BRCA1

In your 20s and 30s, you may not have had many interactions with the healthcare system besides visiting a family member in the hospital. There exists a group of people called Adolescents and Young Adults (AYA), who are underrepresented when it comes to being diagnosed with a serious medical condition before the age of 40. Our guest, Kelsey Litwin, was diagnosed with stage IIIB triple-negative (TNBC) breast cancer and the BRCA1 mutation when she was only 24 years old. If it had not been for her family, especially her mom who is a TNBC survivor, she wouldn’t have known what to do next after she felt a lump. Kelsey shares her story to emphasize the importance of health literacy, finding community for healing, and the need for a discussion around fertility preservation.


S2 E2 - Her Mom’s Breast Cancer Diagnosis Changed Trajectory of Her Career

Guest: Christina Spears, MS, CGC Genetic Counselor & Caregiver

When someone in your family is diagnosed with breast cancer, it can affect the entire family. Our guest Chrissy Spears, knows this well because her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer her senior year of college. When she and her mother received genetic testing, she was impressed by their genetic counselor’s compassion and insight. It's interesting to learn how one experience can change the trajectory of someone's career. Chrissy had initially planned to attend pharmacy school after graduation but ended up becoming a genetic counselor instead. Today, she is an Assistant Professor of Internal Medicine and a Certified Genetic Counselor at The Ohio State University, Division of Human Genetics. Some of the topics we discussed include the intricacies of genetic testing and counseling, dealing with situations where one does not know one's family history, and gender-affirming care and training, as well as the criteria used to determine if a patient is a good candidate for genetic counseling.


S2 E1 - Navigating Breast Cancer – From What Was to What Is

Guest: Gail May, Invasive Ductal Carcinoma HR+, HER2+

Guest Gail May never missed getting her annual mammograms. At first, her doctor spotted something suspicious and originally diagnosed her with DCIS. However, after a second MRI, it was clear her cancer was invasive, and she was then diagnosed with invasive ductal carcinoma (IDC). Having a single mastectomy filled Gail with anxiety because her body was no longer symmetrical. She learned to be comfortable in her skin again.

Gail always used writing as a coping mechanism in the past. Writing poetry and short stories continues to help her cope emotionally and mentally as she processes her breast cancer experience.


S1 E12 - Our BC Life Compilation of all 2023 Episodes

Season one of Our BC Life is now available! We are grateful for the courage and strength of the survivors who have shared their inspiring stories with us. We encourage you to share this podcast with your friends and family who may also be interested in hearing about the world of early-stage breast cancer survivorship. This compilation of all 2023 episodes aims to give our listeners a bird's-eye view of the journey of a breast cancer survivor because it's more than just a pink ribbon; it's our BC Life. We hope you enjoy listening and find it informative and inspiring.


S1 E12 - Relationship with Food and Purpose After Breast Cancer

Guest: Karen D. Adams, Invasive Ductal (IDC), HER2+, ER+/PR-

Life can be challenging and sometimes knock you to your knees. Guest Karen D. Adams, Invasive Ductal (IDC), HER2+, ER+/PR- survivor, was put to the test as she mourned the death of her father and was diagnosed a few months later with breast cancer and then colon cancer a few years later. She also walks us through the changes of her relationship with food, especially soul food, in her survivorship stage.


S1 E10 - Breast Cancer Holistic Bag of Tips to Manage Emotions

Guest: Dawn Freeman, DCIS w/ recurrence

Even with a strong family history of multiple types of cancers, guest Dawn Freeman, a DCIS with one recurrence survivor, was always into fitness and eating right. She was born with Addison’s disease, also called adrenal insufficiency, which is an uncommon illness that occurs when the body does not make enough of a certain hormone. She had been planning to leave her job and was getting all of her health screenings before resigning. Then she received the cancer call – no symptoms and was found on a mammogram. Dawn, who identifies as a Black lesbian, had many complications with her treatment and surgeries which caused her to experience body dysmorphia. Listen as she shares her holistic bag of tips on protecting your peace and calming the mind, body, and spirit.


S1 E9 - Making a Decision Based on a Percentage – Genetic Testing and Previvor Experience

Guest: Kellie Goss, BRCA1, Previvor

This episode includes our first-ever previvior! Guest Kellie Goss, a BRCA1 previvor, has a strong family history of breast cancer. Her mom and little sister were diagnosed with breast cancer, and she knew it would only be a matter of time before she got the cancer call. Thanks to a persistent OB-GYN, she finally agreed to genetic testing and take a proactive approach for her health.

Listen as she talks about her mental and spiritual struggles after receiving her results that were so significant (80% risk of getting ovarian cancer and 75% risk of getting breast cancer) that she opted to have a prophylactic double mastectomy and hysterectomy.


S1 E8 - PTSD and Vulnerability in Breast Cancer Survivorship

Guest: Andrea Gamble (she/her), Stage IIA invasive lobular (ILC)

She had a doctor with a plan, and now she needed to be the patient with a plan. Guest Andrea "Andi" Gamble, an invasive lobular (ILC) survivor, comes from a family of breast cancer – her mother, herself, and then her sister. The plans Andi didn’t realize she would need were how to cope with implants, painful expanders, delayed exchange surgery due to COVID, PTSD, and the loneliness and isolation that can often come once in the survivorship stage. There was no roadmap to handle all of the overwhelming physical, mental, and emotional toll of breast cancer.


S1 E7 - A Breast Cancer Story: From Stage Zero to Stage Four

Guest: Nancy Herard-Marshall (she/her), DCIS, ER/PR+ and HER2- in 2013 and diagnosed with MBC in 2020

No one prepares for going from stage 0 to stage 4. My guest, Nancy Herard-Marshall, was diagnosed with DCIS in Situ in October 2013. She was hitting her five-year mark in survivorship and living life until she went mountain climbing in Haiti. She pricked her finger which later triggered lymphedema. From that moment, there would be more complications, and ultimately, a metastatic breast cancer diagnosis (MBC). Listen to Nancy’s story of her struggles, support group connections, microaggressions experienced by her medical team, how her subtype changed, and how she stood up for herself in the midst of the insanity.


S1 E6 - Color the Queer into Post-Cancer Menopause

Guest: Jamie Philips, Invasive Ductal and DCIS Survivor

It is essential to acknowledge the different breast/chest cancer experiences of those in marginalized communities, including the LGBTQIA community. My guest, Jamie Philips, an invasive ductal and DCIS survivor, is a queer person who experienced many alienating things throughout her chest cancer experience like being squeezed into a pink bra post-surgery to being given resources with no inclusive language. No one discussed or prepared her for the ramifications of menopause and how her dating life would be impacted, in a way that would resonate and honor the queerness of her journey.


S1 E5 - When Family History and Genetic Mutation Elevate Risk of Breast Cancer

Guest: Marissa Thomas, Survivor with Lynch syndrome mutation

Knowing your family history is essential to learn what you are predisposed to. In this episode, my guest Marissa Thomas, a survivor with a Lynch syndrome mutation, discusses learning of her family history and how she was diagnosed with breast cancer six months after her dad’s second bout with colon cancer. Marissa drops many gems of knowledge from the importance of genetic testing, knowing what your body’s “normal” is, and suggestions to help shift through the collateral damage of it all.


S1 E4 - The Anxiety of Breast Cancer Surgery Choices

Guest: Erin Perkins, Stage IIB triple-negative and IDC

There’s a lot of anxiety once you receive a breast cancer diagnosis. In this episode, my guest Erin Perkins, a triple negative survivor, discusses the unique way she knew something was wrong and the overwhelming feelings that came when it was time to decide on the best surgery option for her body; and why, after getting an Aesthetic Flat Closure, she wanted a revision.


S1 E3 - The Rollercoaster of Emotions When Treatment Changes

Guest: Brenda Coronado, Stage IIB invasive lobular with mix of ductal

A breast cancer diagnosis can cause a rollercoaster of emotions, especially when you are mentally prepared for a specific treatment plan but then feel blindsided by additional treatments. Guest Brenda Coronado, a stage IIB invasive lobular survivor, is fresh out of active treatment and sharing her bumpy ride of treatments and how the cultural differences and finding community in her native language are essential as she begins her survivorship stage.


S1 E2 - When Surgical Menopause Wreaks Havoc on Sex Life and Mental Health

Guest: Rachael Walker, Invasive Ductal Breast Cancer (IDC)

There are different sets of challenges when you’re originally diagnosed under 40. One of those challenges is how being surgically induced into menopause rather than nature taking its course affects the mind and sex life. That’s what guest Rachel Walker, an invasive ductal (IDC) survivor, discusses in this episode. Take a listen to how she’s learning to cope with the frustrations of survivorship and relearns how her body functions and its limitations.

Additional Resources:
Certification that a Sexual Health specialist will typically have: https://www.aasect.org/
Book recommendation - When Sex Hurts: Understand and Healing Pelvic Pain Book


S1 E1 - The Power of Asking Questions When Diagnosed with Breast Cancer

Guest: Nancy Touhill, Triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) survivor

When you get that initial breast cancer diagnosis, you often feel powerless because so much is unknown. This episode will discuss the power of asking questions of your medical team with guest Nancy Touhill, a triple-negative breast cancer survivor (TNBC). We discuss why the relationship with your oncologist is a partnership when determining the type of treatment recommended and the unexpected mental toll of entering the survivorship stage.


National Helpline: