Sharing Breast Cancer Experiences is the ‘Most Special Thing’

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Having social media platforms to share breast cancer experiences changes the narrative for others who may empathize, a survivor and advocate said.

Having a cancer community to lean on was something Annie Bond wished she had when she received a diagnosis of metastatic breast cancer at age 26 in 2015. Now, the 35-year-old embraces the community by blending her experiences as a comedian, breast cancer survivor and cancer advocate on platforms such as TikTok and Instagram.

During the time when social media was just on the horizon, Bond explained to CURE® that she felt alone without a community of other patients and survivors with cancer. Initially, she said, speaking up was not something she thought she would do.

“In those first couple of losses, I just started to feel really angry and helpless,” Bond said during the interview. “And then I realized, it doesn't matter who's talking. If one of us is succeeding, we're all succeeding.”

Now, she actively shares her experiences — both the good and bad — with her followers, sharing the voices of others who may not be able to speak up about cancer.

Bond sat down with CURE® to discuss how important it is for her to share her experiences with others on social media and what it means to her.

Transcript:

It’s so weird, first of all, because one of the biggest things that I have struggled with — and I used to think that it was just me — [was] struggling with that alone is feeling all that guilt. There's so much heaviness and guilt, or you feel like “Well, I'm not the person to speak up.” Because there's so many people who have it worse.

The unfortunate thing about being in the metastatic community is you do lose a lot of people because it is a cruel and unfair disease. And I think in those first couple of losses, I just started to feel really angry and helpless. And then I realized, it doesn't matter who's talking. If one of us is succeeding, we're all succeeding. And I really started to think about when I was first diagnosed, you know, Instagram was kind of a thing — it was 2015. But everybody was very polished on Instagram and TikTok wasn't here. I just was so desperate to find anybody my age with cancer, anybody even close to my age with metastatic disease.

So now it's wonderful how rich this community is, and how much we can all help each other. And so anytime I doubt myself, I just think about my friends who can't talk who are sick right now, or who aren't here anymore, and try to relay the messages that they tried to put out there, and just try to fight for a better future, because there's just so much that people don't know, especially about metastatic disease, like even an early stage of breast cancer.

It's like there [are] all these subcategories within stage 1, stage 2, stage 3 and then stage 4, it's like, “No, too bad for you.” But in reality, there's so much there that we've learned and especially over the past five years, there's so many new treatments, even the treatment that I'm on, I now have multiple options that might even be better than what I'm on for me if this were to fail.

I just think it's wonderful. Just even be a part of the community is like an absolute honor. And then for me, I went through so much pain and loneliness and shame and guilt by myself, because I felt that I wasn't allowed to speak up, because again, it was like, “Somebody else has it worse.” So, I just suffered in silence.

I find that when I go to these hospitals, and I'm talking to other young cancer survivors, or they're young women with metastatic disease, the thing that people appreciate the most is just having somebody out there who's saying what they feel when I talk about mental health, when I talk about how heavy survivor's guilt is. When I talk about shame, and then I make a funny joke about it at the same time, I can really see in people's faces, just hearing that somebody else feels that way is so validating and [it’s] such an important step for healing. I think that it's so healing for me to be able to do, and the fact that it helps anybody at the same time. I mean, that's the most special thing in the world to me. Besides my dog.

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