Breast cancer hit me hard with shock and terror in 2013. It’s still front and center in my life with gratitude and acceptance. I survived, I learned, my life changed, and I met some amazing people that I otherwise would not have.
Going from shock and terror to gratitude and acceptance involved a ton of lessons, although I didn’t give in to them some of them easily. I know that what I eventually learned can help others who are currently facing the breast cancer treatment gauntlet. These lessons are also of value to anyone facing other types of serious illness.
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. I’ve been sharing what I've learned from The Cancer Year this October to pay it forward for those walking the path now. Here is a recap of my advocacy work from this October, 2019. If you know someone that might benefit from these resources right now, please share:
1. I was invited by The Press Democrat, our Pulitzer Prize winning newspaper, to write an article about the experience and lessons learned as a physician-turned-patient with breast cancer. Find the story here, A Doctor Shares Lessons She Learned as a Breast Cancer Patient.
2. I filmed a Facebook Live video discussing my experience and lessons learned in the hopes of helping others who are currently being treated for breast cancer or other serious illnesses. During The Cancer Year I systematized the key points that helped me beat a bad prognosis and survive. Find my video here. Please remember to "Follow" the page to see more of my Facebook Live Videos.
3. Eva SooHoo, the founder of Eileen&Eva, featured my work and my Chemotherapy Skin Care Kit on her blog and Facebook site. Eva and I share a passion to support the breast cancer community. She created a comforting clothing line for breast cancer treatment, with unique features such as pockets for the post surgical drains! We gals that have walked this path know the deal, and Eva is making it easier for those now being treated.
Eva and I are both BRCA mutation carriers. We have had a lot of surgery to survive cancer and/or previve cancer. Eva created Eva&Eileen's Heal With Style Collection to offer,
elegant and functional clothes for cancer patients, where drains, PICC lines and ports are accommodated without compromising the loveliness and grace of design....Each garment is made with hand-crafted detailing, flattering lines and quality construction. Our proprietary Tencel™ blend is luxuriously soft for sensitive skin, and is breathable, moisture wicking and anti-microbial to moderate the effect of hot flashes. Our collection of clothes for cancer patients is lovingly designed and made in California.
Eva supports breast cancer patients, and breast and ovarian cancer previvors with her beautiful garments. Likewise, I created my Chemotherapy Skin Care Kit to do the same. My Chemo Kit is based on my own chemo experience and my professional experience as a dermatologist who has supported chemo patients for 30+ years.
When I was sick, I found that no adequate product existed for chemotherapy skin care. Products marketed to chemo patients were full of contact allergens and/or were not truly therapeutic. I built my chemo kit so that chemo patients would have everything they need to keep their vulnerable skin healthy during this physiologically challenging time.
The reality is that our skin is our biggest organ. It's on the outside of our bodies and is exposed to harmful germs daily - such as those that cause serious infections like Staph, MRSA, Strep etc. Chemo patients have suppressed immune systems, and are susceptible to infections from these common germs. Acquiring a skin infection gets them put on antibiotics, which leads to yeast infections. This becomes a serious cycle that chemo patients need to avoid. My kit keeps the skin healthy, thereby preventing or arresting this cycle.
The other super cool thing about my Chemo kit is that I give all of the profit to FORCE, the advocacy organization for the hereditary breast and ovarian cancer community. With every kit sold, Dr. Bailey Skin Care sends a check to FORCE! FORCE was there for me when I was sick, and I want them to continue to be there for all those on the cancer misadventure coming in after me.
Breast cancer changed my life – and it’s not all sad or bad. The terror I felt entering the process has evolved to gratitude. I have so many people to thank and so much insight I’ve gained. Every October brings it all front and center again for me. Please share these resources with those who may find them of value.
Cynthia Bailey, MD,
Dermatologist, BRCA1 mutation carrier, Breast Cancer Survivor, Ovarian Cancer Previvor (hopefully), and Breast Cancer Advocate