Out with the Pink, In with Empowerment: Breast Cancer Survivors and Previvors Unite to Educate and Inspire
As Breast Cancer Action Month dawns, the inspiring journeys of four resilient women (an astrophysicist, young actress, non-profit co-founder, and a breast cancer surgeon) who are breaking through the sea of pink, inviting a shift towards empowerment, education, and personal choice. Together, they amplify the vital message of trusting your body, advocating for your health, and embracing choices that redefine survivorship.
SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. – California September 21, 2023 – In a groundbreaking collective effort, three women’s inspiring journeys unite with a pioneering physician to challenge norms, advocate change, and encourage informed decisions. During October for Breast Cancer Action Month, their voices rise above the pink noise, urging us all to prioritize awareness, education, and personal agency.
Every year, countless women face the staggering reality of a breast cancer diagnosis. In 2022 alone, over 280,000 women (1 out of 8) were diagnosed with breast cancer in the United States, according to the American Cancer Society.
Sarafina Nance, an Astrophysicist, analog astronaut, and author was just 23 years old when she found out she carried the BRCA2 gene mutation, leaving her with a very high risk of developing breast cancer. Faced with this genetic predisposition, Sarafina made the courageous choice to undergo a double mastectomy with reconstruction.
Miranda McKeon, a 20-year-old star of “Anne with an E,” confronted breast cancer in the prime of her life. After freezing her eggs, eight rounds of chemotherapy, a double mastectomy, and 25 radiation sessions, Miranda realized that navigating survivorship was more complex than anticipated. “I really want women to know that they should feel amazing about the decisions that they’re making for their bodies,” she explains. “While going through the breast cancer experience can feel very powerless and helpless and overwhelming, there is empowerment to be found in the choices we get to make around our bodies and these choices should never be compromised.” explains Miranda to People Magazine, emphasizing the importance of advocating for one’s health and embracing personal choices.
Bri Majsiak, co-founder of The Breasties, stands at the forefront of change, drawing from her personal journey and her mother’s experience. With a proactive approach, she honors her mother’s memory and actively shapes a future that embraces knowledge, empowerment, and equity. “I’ll always wonder; What could have happened differently if my mom was diagnosed sooner? If she had someone like Dr. Peled or a Breastie in her corner? If she felt empowered to stand up for herself and her body?” Explained Bri to The Peak.
The startling reality of dispositions prompted Bri to advocate for change. “It was surprising and unfortunately, the standard,” Bri remarks. With unwavering determination, Bri became part of a movement to raise awareness about young diagnoses, genetic predispositions, racial disparities, and the importance of knowing surgical options.
“Access to information is a luxury that my mom didn’t have twenty years ago and one that I am most grateful to the Breastie community for. We have so much information at our fingertips. When used appropriately (AKA not just relying on Dr. Google!) it can truly put you ahead of the game.”
The Intersection of Stories and Expertise: Dr. Anne Peled’s Transformative Journey
The journey of these remarkable women converges with the pioneering work of Dr. Anne Peled, a dual-trained breast cancer and plastic surgeon. Diagnosed at 37 with the disease she treats, Dr. Peled faced the heart-wrenching prospect of losing sensation, which guided her to choose a lumpectomy over more radical options. This turning point ignited her determination to find a solution. Just months after her own procedure, Dr. Peled, alongside her husband Dr. Ziv Peled, a peripheral nerve surgeon, pioneered an innovative technique (Sensation Preserving Mastectomy) that has since transformed the lives of over 500 patients. As they mark their fifth year of performing these groundbreaking procedures, their mission extends beyond medical advancements and has extended into traveling across the globe and teaching the technique remotely to as many surgeons as possible.
Dr. Peled vividly recalls a pivotal conversation with a friend who realized she couldn’t feel her sports bra against her chest—a revelation that starkly underscored the urgency of awareness.
Dr. Peled emphasizes, “The message needs to spread far and wide: a physician’s lack of recommendation or knowledge of a procedure doesn’t negate its existence.”
The focus for Brest Cancer Awareness Month in 2023 is on comprehensive awareness— the world knows breast cancer exists, it’s time to start taking about prevention through genetic testing, on diverse treatment options encompassing cancer vaccines and non-invasive diagnostics like ultrasounds or MRIs as alternatives to mammograms, and on post-surgical recovery that preserves both appearance and sensation and even re-sensation options for those who have already undergone a mastectomy.
It is a call to action for media, individuals, and advocates to come together and openly discuss these options for education rather than merely awareness. The mission transcends breast cancer—it’s about empowering everyone with the knowledge to make informed choices, ensuring that no stone is left unturned in the pursuit of comprehensive breast health.
Quote from Miranda McKeon:
“I was really frightened at first about what I might look like after and what that would mean for my relationship to my body and my self confidence and self esteem,” McKeon says of her double mastectomy. “I think this is something that a lot of women face when leading up to this surgery. Am I going to look like myself? Am I going to look normal? Am I going to look like Frankenstein?”
“I think talking with my surgeon [Dr. Anne Peled] about her training, being dual trained and board certified, and also her sharing implant safety information made me rest assured going into the [breast reconstruction]. Because I’m so young and I have so many years ahead of me,” the actress notes.
This Breast Cancer Action Month, join Bri Majsiak, Sarafina Nance, Miranda McKeon, and Dr. Anne Peled in breaking the silence surrounding breast cancer OPTIONS across media outlets and their social media profiles. The chorus of their stories is a testament to the strength within, the power of choice, and the significance of informed advocacy.
The sea of pink is giving way to a wave of empowerment and education, paving the way for change and unity.
Ashley Carty: [email protected]