Breast Cancer Does Not Discriminate

Young and in-shape women may feel as though they are unstoppable and indestructible. But what happens when a 27-year old woman is diagnosed with breast cancer? Justina Barone survived through humor, her blog, and Jennifer Hudson, and you can too.

By Justina Barone

Justina BaroneI am a breast cancer survivor. I was diagnosed at the age of 27 and was young and fit, but quickly found out breast cancer does not care about your fitness level or past achievements.  It does not discriminate.

During a time when the future looked dark, I remained positive and used humor to keep a smile on my face during treatment.  Just two weeks after my bi-lateral mastectomy and reconstruction, I was inducted into the Athletics Hall of Fame at my alma mater. I also started a blog describing life post treatment and reconstructive surgery, and discussed the humorous outlook that helped me stay positive and eventually become a survivor.  If by sharing my story I help to save even one life, then I feel my purpose has been fulfilled.

We are surrounded by images from the media encouraging us to eat healthy.  Jennifer Hudson belts out glorious notes encouraging us to win our personal battle against bulge, like she did, in her Weight Watchers ® commercials.

Her commercial explains that feeling of can’t that so many of us combat each day.  I can’t lose weight, I’ve tried before.  I can’t workout, I don’t have time.  I can’t join a gym, it’s too expensive.  I can’t get breast cancer, I’m an athlete.

Well just like Jennifer, being stuck in the frustrating negative world of can’t leaves us forced to begin each new day just as the old one ended.  Forced to continue life in a perpetual loop of can’t and before we know it 10 years have gone by and we’ve grown a little bigger, a little unhappier, and a little unhealthier.  Or worse, we’ve missed our childhood because of being too overweight to play.

I woke up one day in my world of can’t to the shocking truth that I can in fact get breast cancer, and I was only 27.

I found myself thrown into the world of can.  Now that I know I can get breast cancer and did – what do I do?  I decided that I wanted to keep moving forward.  I read books to gather information so that I could make educated decisions regarding treatment.  I soaked in information about cleanses and changing my diet so drastically that I would be eating organic spinach and watermelon in a blender for 30 days.  I felt the way about an organic liquid diet as many adults feel about establishing a workout routine, and many children feel about eating their veggies.   

Drastic change is not always the best change.  Even though I found myself saying, “I can’t run 3 miles after chemotherapy treatments, I’m exhausted.”  I also found myself saying, “I can walk up and down the stairs in the house.”

I was just as proud to finish walking up two flights of stairs as I was to win a half-mile race.  I don’t have a voice as angelic as Jennifer Hudson’s but, I wanted to belt out, “I can!  I did!” at the top of my lungs and now that I have completed treatment; I can call myself a survivor, because “I am!” “I can. I did. I am.” And you can too!

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