My name is Anna Crollman and I am a breast cancer survivor. I never thought I’d hear my name and cancer in the same sentence. But here I am. I can’t tell you how many doctors, nurses and strangers looked at me and said I was too young. I just so happen to be one of those unlucky women. My story is filled with pain and struggle but is ultimately a story of strength, and hope.
My experience with breast cancer began in June 2015. I was 27 years old and my husband and I had just celebrated our 1-year wedding anniversary, hoping to start a family. I discovered the lump myself and from that moment on, everything moved at lighting speed. My husband and I learned more about cancer in the next 3 weeks than anyone wants to know in their lifetime. I learned that I had a special kind of breast cancer called triple positive interductal carcinoma. I would need surgery, chemotherapy and targeting hormone therapy for many years to come.
Since fertility was top of mind, I went immediately into surgery to allow for time before chemo to harvest and freeze embryos. The more educated we became the more power we could reclaim. I didn’t have a choice about whether to lose my breasts or my hair, but I could control how I decide to approach the situation. I decided to choose happiness, strength and positivity.
I was fed up and saw a gap in the resources available online for women like me wanting to thrive through a life-threatening illness like cancer. So, I decided to share my journey to help others, and that is how My Cancer Chic was born. As a lover of all things beauty and fashion, I refused to let cancer change that. Cancer may take my breasts and my hair but I would keep my lipstick and heels. I would keep my style and I WOULD find a way to feel beautiful despite it all.
Writing became a way to process my grief. The words I wrote served to heal me and bring comfort to the other young women like me lost in a sea of grey hair and medical grade mastectomy bras. I wanted other young women to find their confidence and see their beauty during this awful time. I wanted them to have the confidence to rock the bald head and feel strong and sexy. One woman at a time, I spread my message and led by example.
The more I shared my story, the more I began to connect with other young women. Finding these women changed everything for me. I had found my tribe - my sisterhood. I found inspiration and renewed strength through our shared experience. No matter how bad my chemo reactions were, or how many surgical complications I faced, these women lifted me up. On the days I felt ugly, mutilated and betrayed by my body, they let me know I was not alone.
Over the past 5 years since my diagnosis I have walked the path of recovery, and continue to build self-confidence after cancer, 6 surgeries and the loss of 2 pregnancies. This past fall I finally welcomed my son into this world, our rainbow after cancer. I continue to share my story on my blog and collaborate with amazing breast cancer organizations internationally to bring hope and self-confidence to other women facing adversity.
What makes Anna feel gorgeous? “Focusing on my self confidence, feeling good on the inside and then rocking a feminine outfit and a pink lip!”
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