“go to the doctor, it saves life”

In France, one in eight women is at risk of developing breast cancer. Although 90% of cases are curable, breast cancer is still the leading cause of cancer death among women. During October, Operation Pink October aims to raise awareness and mobilize the general public against breast cancer and promote early detection.

Emily Doden, better known as @emiliebrunette on Instagram, was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer at the age of 33. She tells us about her struggle.

Photo by DR

How did you come up with the idea to write this book about your struggle?

When I had breast cancer, I went to a bookstore and couldn’t find a book that talked about my type of cancer and was written by a patient, a young person; which can be both a guide to explain what cancer is, in much more understandable jargon than medical, and to repeat the course. So I thought why not write one. A lot of people were interested in me because I was visible on Instagram, so a lot of people told me that the day I posted something, they would be interested. The goal was actually to write a book that I wish I had at the beginning of my treatment.

What message do you want your book to convey?

It is necessary to monitor your health, do not neglect examinations, appointments, listen to your body as well. If something hurts, go to the doctor. The book should tell women that they need to reclaim power over their health and their bodies, that if they get answers from doctors that don’t fit, go and strike somewhere else. My chest hurt, for months they said it was muscle pain, and if I had known, I would have gone to a gynecologist or a doctor. It is very important to regain control over your health.

You mention in your book the pain you felt and that first medical misdiagnosis, then thinking it was nothing, and the delay before re-consultation. How to convince women to go for an examination at the slightest doubt?

The longer we wait, the more serious it can be. It happened to me for nine months, I had six tumors in my breast. I’m very lucky, very lucky that the cancer cells didn’t mutate to another organ because I wouldn’t be here today. Fear doesn’t avoid things, it only moves us backwards to jump better. It is better not to hide in the sand, even though many women do, because we are always afraid when we discover something. Fear paralyzes us, and as soon as we pass the exam and see that there is nothing, we feel so relieved and proud of ourselves…

Go to a consultation, it can help detect something early, it’s great. Do not be afraid, because the exam does not hurt. It can help save lives. We only have one body, so the day it goes off track, it will hurt. It is better to detect the smallest anomaly really early, so as not to have unnecessary consequences.

How did you tell your children you had cancer?

It was difficult because they were little and I didn’t know if I wanted to tell them or not. It was a topic of discussion with my husband that I couldn’t bring myself to tell them. But I felt there was something different with them because my daughter started crying again at night when she was sleeping. She was a baby, she was a year old, but I told her that I had cancer and that I would be cured, that I would fight to see her grow up.

Son, I told him that I have a crab in my bosom. After the crab metaphor, I don’t know if it’s the best: my son was a little afraid of crabs afterwards. Now I talk to him about it, I tell him “Mom, she had that.” I bring up the words because I have a friend whose mother was young and had cancer and didn’t know it until she was 18. She told me that it was a big explosion in her life because she felt like she had been lied to all her life and suddenly I told myself that I am not going to repeat the same mistake with my children.

You also mention many preconceived notions about cancer that seem to be persistent in our society: breastfeeding protects against cancer, cancer only affects women over 50…our prevention policies?

Fully. We are still given these figures for breastfeeding, even though they are only 4% per year of breastfeeding, and this reduces risk, not protection. Breastfeeding against cancer is not a vaccine! Breastfeeding women who come across this information feel protected and don’t care if they experience breast tightness.

Many believe that this applies only to women over 50 years old. Now we do a lot of campaigns to talk about the triple negative, to say that it doesn’t just happen to others. But I think why not have a breast exam like a breast ultrasound if in doubt. There are many hospitals in every city that offer breast screening: you can find out if you have breast cancer in one day. And it’s completely unknown, it’s very poorly referenced, even though it can change a lot. I would have to do it all over again. We should know gestures of self-examination since school. Our body, we hardly know it. So there are many things that need to be changed.

You approach aspects of breast cancer without taboos: treatment, fatigue, femininity, life as a couple… Aren’t we as patients informed about everything that cancer entails?

We are not sufficiently informed, even if the doctors do their best to keep us informed, to talk about such and such an initiative. They don’t have enough time in the hospital, and sometimes we don’t have enough ears to listen. Many women do not dare to ask questions, turn to their oncologist for information and allow themselves to get a little carried away. That’s why I wanted to talk about all these topics that are somewhat taboo in this book, so that people can then have the resources to learn about it for themselves.

You also mention postrak and its difficulties….

The consequences are really difficult, because we already have a kind of sword of Damocles hanging over our heads. I am often asked how I manage to move forward. I advise women to do outside activities, it can be knitting, learning ceramics…things that can make us happy and make us think about something else. The day our treatment stops, our activity continues, and at least we can keep it.

There’s also the fact that since breast cancer kills 12,000 women a year, I don’t have the right to stop living for the sake of all the women who would have loved to live but who no longer do. It is a duty to move forward and not to be sad because life is too short to be afraid of cancer coming back. There is an urgency to live. That’s what keeps me going, telling myself that life is too beautiful and that I’m not going to waste it making myself even sicker than before.

How are you today?

How are you. I have a perfectly normal life, my two young children, my fashion brand, my side business. Everything is going very well and I am very happy.

“In My Chest” by Emily Doden, Plon Publishing.

Revitalash, an American brand very committed to Pink October

This is one of the visible effects of chemotherapy: loss of eyelashes, eyebrows and hair. This month, Pink October is an American brand Revitalash Cosmetics is supporting patients more than ever by donating a sum of money ($2) to associations actively fighting breast cancer for every Pink Program product sold.

It must be said that the brand was developed in 2006 by doctor Michael Brinkenhoff, whose wife Gail herself suffered from breast cancer as a child. “During treatment, she lost her long, dark eyelashes, and with it, her self-confidence. Then her husband developed a product that repairs, strengthens and nourishes,” says Californian Lori Jacobus, president and marketing director of RevitaLash Cosmetics, while traveling in Paris. Since then, the company has continued to grow. Two tubes of Revitalash Advanced eyelash serum are sold every minute all over the world, and the assortment is enriched with new references: eyebrows, hair… Despite the success, the company has not forgotten its origin: “We are and will always be eternally pink. We fight this all year round, not just in October. This disease affects us all near or a little further. Since 2018, we’ve donated over $3 million to support the cause through donations of food, money, and more. says Lori Jacobus. At the end of the year, an innovative mascara developed by the brand is coming to the market: it is a restorative eyelash care product designed for people with very sensitive eyes, with a formula developed by an ophthalmologist. So, ready to combine a pleasant purchase with a gesture of solidarity?

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