When I was going through active treatment I would google images of women that had gone through radiation to see what my skin would look like. My skin didn't turn red like the articles said it would, my skin was as dark as charcoal.
Before my surgery, I googled images of mastectomies and mastectomy tattoos. You know what's harder to find than images of black women with mastectomies? Black breast cancer survivors on Instagram.
I wondered why. Where are all the images of the women that look like me? What kind of treatments did they get? How do the survivors find each other?
I am a black woman and I am a young woman who has been affected by breast cancer.
The black breast cancer community has its own set of challenges, just as the adolescent and young adult cancer community has its challenges. The thing is, I can find active online communities for young people with cancer and even more specifically, young women with breast cancer, but I've struggled to find thriving online communities for black breast cancer survivors.
Not just in the imagery, but in the real world. Survivors need survivors and women who have been blessed to not be affected by breast cancer need survivors, as well. We, as humans, need to have people we can connect with that simply understand and people that can show us how to navigate unfamiliar territory.
Gandhi said, "Be the change you wish to see in the world" and that's what I've set out to do.
So, when I was thinking of names for my blog, I wanted something with the power of #BlackGirlMagic. A phrase that could be used to recognize and celebrate the strength of black women that have been affected by breast cancer, the most commonly diagnosed cancer among black women. More than just acknowledging women who themselves were diagnosed, but also the incredible co-survivors.
My vision is for Black Girl Brave to be a source of inspiration and education by sharing my story and the stories of other women affected by breast cancer. My personal goal is to be an advocate and thought-leader in the communities I'm a member of.
My diagnosis has given me purpose. Now, I'm on a mission to change the world.