#YWMBC Profile : Lara
Occupation: Founder, Hope Scarves
Age when diagnosed with breast cancer: 30
Breast cancer type: ER/PR+ Her2-
Breast cancer stage: diagnosed stage II while pregnant in 2007, metastatic in 2015
Treatment: chemo & double mastectomy in 2007, radiation & oophorectomy, Endocrine therapy in 2015-present
Tell us a fun fact about yourself that has nothing to do with cancer: I love to sail
What’s your go-to pick-me-up song? Geronimo by Sheppard
How did you discover your breast cancer? I was 30 years old and 7 months pregnant when I had persistent discomfort in my left breast. I assumed it was pregnancy related because all kinds of crazy things happen to your body when you are pregnant. I told my OB/GYN about it at my 7 month check up and luckily he was suspicious and sent me in for a biopsy that very day. Two days later we learned it was cancer.
What went through your head when you received your diagnosis? I was completely shocked. I didn’t have any family history, I was super healthy. I didn’t really know anyone who had faced breast cancer. I was completely overwhelmed and in disbelief. Of course, my biggest fear was for our unborn child.
What’s the craziest thing someone said to you after being diagnosed with breast cancer? A lot of people like to tell me about friends and family members they know who have died of breast cancer. Although I understand they mean well, it always baffles me that they think this is helpful information for someone with stage iv breast cancer.
Who or what is/was your biggest source of support throughout your experience with cancer? I am blessed with an amazing support system. My husband has been by my side through all of the ups and downs and I know I couldn’t do this without him. I also have really helpful parents and extended family. I have never lived in the same state as my parents so friends are a big part of our day to day support system. It really does take a village.
What is/was the most difficult part of being a young woman with breast cancer? The facts. Metastatic breast cancer is the leading cause of death for women under 50. Facing this reality as a MBC survivor can be very overwhelming. I am doing every thing I can to make my body as healthy and strong as I can to beat the odds and raise money for metastatic breast cancer research. I am holding on for science! I believe we can find ways to extend life expectancy if we focus research on ways to stop the spread of the disease.
What’s something unexpected you learned about yourself as a result of having breast cancer? Cancer opened up a doorway to me with new purpose, possibility and connection. Founding Hope Scarves has been an incredibly rewarding experience and united me with amazing people. I turned a scary experience into something positive to help others. Every day I am honoured to share scarves and stories between survivors and share my message of hope with the world. But, I would give it all back in a heartbeat.
In one sentence, what words of wisdom would you pass on to another young woman who has just been diagnosed with breast cancer? Live life over cancer- one day at a time.
Hope Scarves collects scarves and stories of encouragement from women who have faced all types of cancer. The scarves are professionally dry-cleaned and then sent on to others facing cancer. Survivors can share their story even if they don’t have a scarf. Their story will be paired with a donated community scarf and begin its journey as a Hope Scarf. Each scarf is tagged with a specific number to track where it travels. It is their hope that if a woman wishes to she will add her story and send her scarf back to Hope Scarf to continue on its journey to someone else.
For more wisdom on being young with breast cancer check out Rethink Breast Cancer’s Care Guidelines here.