Optimism, Positivity, and Finding and Community

A Story By Kirstin Kallini

We’re spotlighting Kirstin’s breast cancer story as a poignant reminder of the significance of self-care (and self-advocation) for breast health.⁣

Optimism While Battling Cancer

I was having a full breakdown about the double mastectomy. It didn't help thinking about my mom; I kept thinking what if I die? My psychiatrist helped me change the narrative that my cancer was different from my mom’s and my story wasn’t the same and wouldn’t end the same. She helped me figure out how to get what information I needed, second opinions, etc. She helped me figure out what kind of breast cancer my mom had and notably how to get the hospital that treated her to release her records to me (although I’m a direct descendant, I was required to get my dad to sign a permission form in order to release my mom’s records) so we could arm ourselves with that knowledge for my treatment process. With therapy, I was able to be optimistic.

Day to Day Positivity

I thought, 'if I am going through all this trouble, and I feel good and it's a good day outside, why would I not enjoy the day?'. I also take anxiety medicine as needed. I am not hesitant to ask for medication if I need it. I had already lost control of my life during covid when I lost my job (my identity along with my job), had just become a new mom, and was told to sit and wait - I think this mentality helped me get through it all more smoothly and not worry about the future as much. I fought really hard and I'm gonna live now and I'm gonna enjoy it. I'm not gonna wait for things to happen or wait for things to be perfect.

Finding Community

Before cancer, I had a finsta that was geared toward getting fit after being pregnant. After I got diagnosed I changed it and curated the accounts I followed to more about other women battling cancer. I liked having it on a separate account than my main Instagram account so if I didn't want to think about cancer that day, I didn't have to go on that account. But when I wanted to feel support of other women going through the same thing, it was a great community.

The Instagram account @killerleftboob offered the advice to follow someone who's a little bit ahead of you in their cancer battle which really helped with the mental game and kept me inspired. When I felt like my chemo treatments would never end, I'd see someone ahead of me finally finishing their treatments and it would remind me that that day will come for me too. I found IG to be a better place for realer conversations and authentic dialogue than some other platforms. I liked that I could curate my community there and follow other women who had similar attitude of "fuck this let's get this over with". I DM with a few women I met on Instagram still.

I also talked to a few women who had cancer or had the surgeries recently (a couple of my cousins connected me with mutual friends). They gave me advice on some things to expect or things I might need during recovery which was helpful.

*Remember to perform your at home breast examination at least once per month to monitor any changes or abnormalities. Check with your doctor if any unusual changes to your breasts occur.

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