Breast Cancer Awareness Month: What You Need to Know
October is breast cancer awareness month. It is a gentle reminder of the many friends and family whose lives have been touched by this disease. According to the American Cancer Society, breast cancer now affects 1 in 8 women in the United States. The CDC has called it the most common cancer in women regardless of race, ethnicity, and family history.
Breast cancer hits close to home for many of us. But so have inspiring stories of breast cancer survivors. These incredible women help us shift focus onto some of the other, more deeply hidden parts of the cancer story. They teach us how growth and beauty can come after the pain, and how to hang on to hope, sanity and strength. I recently had the privilege to interview one such local dynamo, Sharon Delaney McCloud. In this post, we reflect on some of her key insights on breast cancer awareness.
Who is Sharon Delaney McCloud?
Sharon is an Emmy Award-winning broadcaster, Olympic Torch Bearer, a proud Florida State University alumna, Founder of Greenroom Communications, VP and Partner at digital marketing agency Walk West, and a mom! She lives right here in Raleigh. It was incredible to have this chance to sit down with her and talk about how life has changed since her breast cancer diagnosis in 2016.
During our interview (which you can read in full on Raleigh Mom’s Blog), Sharon shared her cancer journey and talked candidly about many things. This includes getting a double mastectomy, on handling doubts, on the things that nobody tells you about chemo, on redefining beauty, on being a mother, a wife, and a savvy business woman through it all. Above all, she demonstrates how to stay resilient no matter what life throws at you!
Our Favorite Sharon-isms During Breast Cancer Awareness Month
It seems impossible to effectively summarize the entire interview here so I hope you get a chance to read it at Raleigh Mom’s Blog, but here are some of my most favorite Sharon-isms:
- On work-life balance: If I am honest with myself, I fail at something daily… We can do it all, but not at the same time. My advice would be to get over the guilt, and savor things as they happen, in that moment.
- On accepting help: My immense, supportive friend network was there for me, and I strongly recommend you tap into your network if you are faced with this diagnosis, this reality.
- On sexual well being: So much is happening at once and add to that the awful shifts from the chemotherapy that wreaks havoc on your hormones, and with that, your sexuality. Women should seek out help and resources from their doctors instead of feeling down about this because it can creep up on you.
- On hair loss: After your hair gets to a certain length, you can get hair extensions! Not anything that looks obvious or fake, but ones that can blend in, so you don’t have to live in that awkward mullet land.
- On grace and beauty: Sometimes I feel like a human “whack-a-mole,” you remember that game? That’s what we women must be. No matter what life throws at us, we must keep popping our heads up. My boys are my strength. They are my reason for being.
Breast Reconstruction Options
Sharon also shared her choice to have breast reconstruction surgery after her double mastectomy. According to Sharon:
“I chose to have reconstruction. I wanted to continue to feel feminine. Honestly, it never crossed my mind not to have reconstruction.”
Breast Reconstruction might seem complicated at first, but your options are quite straightforward and we’ve talked about it in our breast implant vs. using a flap blog post before. Nipple Reconstruction, Fat Grafting via Liposuction, Breast Lift, and Breast Augmentation are also things you can consider and talk about with your plastic surgeon. And if you are wondering “Does Breast Augmentation affects breast cancer detection?” please check out this great video.
Early Detection of Breast Cancer is Key
Going back to the interview, the importance of early detection and 3D mammograms are two key take ways from Sharon’s experience. Because, while breast cancer cannot be prevented, early detection is the best chance to put up the best fight against it.
The National Breast Cancer Foundation offers a free resource on 3 steps to early detection of breast cancer. They also offer a number of tips like — How to perform a breast cancer detection self exam at home. What symptoms to look out for. Healthy habits to prevent breast cancer. And when to schedule your routine mammograms.
Educating and Empowering Women in the Triangle
It was such a privilege to celebrate breast cancer awareness month in the company of Sharon Delaney McCloud. She will be speaking at the upcoming Women: A Force in Business conference here in Raleigh this week, hosted by NC Chamber of Commerce, so make sure you register to attend! This is a once-a-year opportunity to engage with the brightest and most dynamic women in NC, not just the Triangle.
Breast Reconstruction is a journey, and it would be our privilege to guide you as you walk this path. If you have any questions about breast cancer, preventative measures, or options for reconstruction, we are here to help.