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.
Breast Cancer Survivor and BRCA Mutation Carrier Dr. Cynthia Bailey
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 every October since 2013 to pay it forward for those walking the path now. Here is a recap of some of my advocacy work.
If you know someone that might benefit from these resources right now, please share them
My breast cancer story in the Press Democrat
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.
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.
Donate to cancer advocacy for the hereditary cancer community
I donate all profits from my Chemotherapy Skin Care Kit to hereditary cancer advocacy and research. As a dermatologist, I know the skin challenges that chemo patients face. 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 - I mean absolutely NONE! - Dr. B
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.
Why does skin care matter so much during chemotherapy treatments?
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.
My Chemo Kit is a dermatologist's answer to chemotherapy skin care. I give all of the profit from sale of my Chemo Kit to FORCE, the advocacy organization for the hereditary cancer community, including the BRCA breast and ovarian cancer gene. 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.
I authored an article series on what I learned about surviving cancer
I've written a 5 part article series on surviving breast cancer. I give you what I learned as a physician cancer patient who beat some really bad odds to become a cancer survivor. It includes what I think tipped the balance for me in favor of winning this battle such as the little things like letting people help me and big things like lifestyle changes that made all the difference for how I tolerated harsh treatments.
Chemotherapy article series
I've also written a series of articles for people facing chemotherapy with my personal/professional patient tips on how to prevent skin infections, how to care for our skin, how I dealt with hair loss and more.
Yep, 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