#ForeverInspired - Rachel M., Stage IV Breast Cancer Survivor, Thriver, and Body Positivity Icon
With our #ForeverInspired series we're showcasing empowered women, brands and charitable organizations that continue to motivate & inspire our team and our fabulous crew.
In this segment we are incredibly honored to feature Rachel M., breast cancer survivor and breast cancer awareness advocate. Just days after her 38th birthday, Rachel was diagnosed with an extremely aggressive form of breast cancer that threatened her life. We are greatly humbled and inspired by her story and her ability to not only survive, but thrive in the wake of her diagnosis and recovery.
Rachel recently opened up to us about her journey and how her relationship with herself and her body has changed.
Thank you for volunteering to share your story.
Thank you so much! I’m honored to represent women personally impacted by breast cancer.
After your mastectomy, what did you learn about yourself?
I have always sought to grow as a human, and the cancer experience really fast-tracked a good chunk of learnings for me. I think the biggest lesson was in being kind to myself. I'd always had a subconscious belief that I was only loved for how I looked and what I did for people. Being stripped of my hair, eyebrows, lashes, and breast, as well as every ounce of energy at times, I suddenly had nothing to give, no way to look pretty. And yet, I was still showered with love by my family, friends, coworkers, medical team, and even strangers. I realized that I would never love anyone else less for not looking or being "perfect," so why should it be different for me? I began to treat myself as kindly as a best friend and was blown away by how much better life became, even with all the heaviness. The great news is that everyone can learn to do this, no cancer required! :)
After your mastectomy, what did you learn about your body?
I have learned SO much about my body over the past (almost) 5 years. I'm quite an active patient, so I always get copies of my scans on disc and pore over them the minute I get home, in addition to reading and researching constantly. So in that way, I have learned tons about bodies in general. Specific to my body, I have learned to decipher what are normal lumps and bumps versus what may be of concern. (I strongly encourage everyone to touch themselves to get to know their normal, too!)
Beyond that, I have developed a deep, deep appreciation for how downright magical our bodies are with all that they can endure and adapt to. I trust my body more than ever to carry me through all the wild adventures I seek out, such as surfing, hiking, or rappelling down buildings. I also listen to my body now and slow down when I need rest, which is something I never used to do.
Above all, I have learned that every body is wildly different... and insanely beautiful. I love that no one else in the world has the same scars or even stretch mark patterns as I do. I am in awe of how unique and perfect we all are.
How are you doing? Are things in the clear right now?
Yes! I had a recurrence in the same breast diagnosed 16 months after having a lumpectomy, then metastasis to the lung diagnosed 13 months after my mastectomy, taking me to Stage IV. Having had the lung lesion successfully removed, I'm nearly 17 months "NED," a.k.a. no evidence of disease, which is the closest the docs will ever come to saying "cured." Due to the aggressive nature of my type of cancer, I get scans and blood work done quarterly. Even though treatment may have ended or a cancer survivor/thriver may be NED, they will deal with some degree of physical, mental, and emotional fallout for the rest of their lives. If you have a survivor/thriver in your life, be sure to send them some love so they know they're not alone in it!
Continue to follow Rachel’s journey on Instagram @baesymmetrical
FACT: 40% of diagnosed breast cancers are detected by women who find a lump. Early detection is key—which is why it’s so important to do a monthly breast exam. Click here for information on how to perform a monthly self breast exam.
With any Brooklyn Collection purchase, we are proud to donate 10% of proceeds to Gabrielle's Angel Foundation to fund cancer research. Our commitment to this cause isn't just for this month. We do it year-round, 24/7/365. Shop The Brooklyn Collection