October 12, 2023

Flipping the Script: Hope in the Face of Breast Cancer

Written by Mary Ray, Co-founder and COO, MyHealthTeam

It was three and a half years ago when I felt swept up by a wave of biopsies, surgeries, and a myriad of medical appointments after being diagnosed with breast cancer. Juxtaposed against the daunting backdrop of a global pandemic, it felt overwhelming. Still, when my friend Melissa jokingly welcomed me to the “sh*tty t*tty committee,” I laughed and committed to seek out glimmers of humor and hope at every bend. 

Today, I’m 100 percent cancer-free.

As I reflect on the seemingly unending cycle of 16 rounds of chemo and 23 rounds of radiation, I am warmed by memories of my care team’s unwavering support and the immense compassion showered upon me by friends, colleagues, and family. Interestingly, it wasn’t until I revisited my posts on MyBCTeam that I was taken back to the roller coaster of emotions I traversed with thousands of others on MyBCTeam at that time. The community was invaluable. They stood by me in ways my real-life social ties couldn’t. 

Until this moment, I’ve kept my journey largely under wraps, sharing only with my other members of MyBCTeam. There, I found solace, away from the well-meaning yet exhausting concern of others. A sentiment I once shared on MyBCTeam resonates deeply, “Ever wished others could shoulder your burden of strength just for a day, on this arduous path to healing?”

Flipping the Script: Hope in the Face of Breast Cancer

Now, in the midst of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I want to share my private story to champion the imperative of regular health checkups. I urge every woman over 40: Prioritize your mammogram. The corporate world won’t crumble in your absence, but a late diagnosis can shatter your own world. In a landscape devoid of a cure, early detection remains our first line of defense.

If you find yourself among the 300,000 people newly diagnosed with breast cancer in the U.S. this year, I’m sorry you’ve joined a group you never planned for, and yet, I wholeheartedly recommend MyBCTeam. There, you’ll discover unparalleled understanding and support. It’s a place where you will be seen, heard, and validated. 

Back in 2012 when my colleagues and I created MyBCTeam, I could hardly have fathomed how personally and deeply I would connect with it and its thousands of members in the years to come. The platform we envisioned at MyHealthTeam to offer support to others became my own pillar of strength. 

Flipping the Script: Hope in the Face of Breast Cancer

By finally sharing my experience, my hope is to inspire action. Together, let’s amplify the importance of regular checkups and stand as a community of hope for each other. 

If you are a woman age 40 or older, getting your annual mammogram is essential to protecting your health. 

Here are some quick facts about breast cancer from one of MyHealthTeam’s partners, Living Beyond Breast Cancer: 

  • About 1 in 8 U.S. women and 1 in 833 U.S. men will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of their lives. 
  • In 2023, an estimated 300,590 cases (297,790 women and 2,800 men) of invasive breast cancer, along with an estimated 55,720 new cases of ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), will be diagnosed in the U.S. 
  • An estimated 43,780 people will lose their lives to metastatic breast cancer in 2023. 
  • As of January 2022, there were over 4 million women living with a history of breast cancer in the U.S. 
  • About 9 percent of all new breast cancer cases are diagnosed in women 45 and under.
  • Though Black women have a lower incidence of breast cancer than white women, Black women are 40 percent more likely to die of breast cancer. 

As Living Beyond Breast Cancer explains, “These numbers remind us there is still urgent work to do — more than we can accomplish in just one month.”