Searching #breastcancer on Instagram yields over 2.7 million powerful posts of women sharing everything from signs and symptoms, diagnosis, post-chemo hair growth, and mastectomy tips. Since 75 percent of all Instagram users are between the ages of 18 and 24, it comes as no surprise that most of the posts under this hashtag are from young women.
Inspiring Breast Cancer Instagram Accounts
In 2019, Everyday Health asked a group of women about their cancer journey and motivations for documenting such an intimate part of their lives on social media. Here are the stories of five women dedicated to creating an online movement for breast cancer patients and survivors.
Going against the grain came naturally for veteran Kellie Goss. After watching both her mother and sister battle breast cancer, Goss became aware that she has a BRCA1 gene mutation, which significantly increases her risk of developing breast cancer.
Goss made the difficult yet brave decision to have a preventative mastectomy. However, when she started searching online for support, Goss was discouraged to see that very few women of color were sharing their preventative surgeries online. “When you don’t see yourself represented, it’s easy to assume that this option is not for you,” said Goss.
She has since made it her mission to use Instagram as a platform to help all women of color feel represented in the BRCA community. Gross also credits the fearlessness of others sharing their experiences online. “They made me feel like I have wings,” she revealed.
When Meghan Koziel received a breast cancer diagnosis at age 26, she launched a blog to keep her loved ones updated on treatments during a time when it was too challenging to explain.
“I began describing in detail the highs and lows of every step of my breast cancer journey, which captivated an audience much larger than my family circle,” she shared. After Koziel’s diagnosis, she learned of her mutation in the PALB2 gene.
In February 2018, Koziel happily posted about her pregnancy with a “miracle baby” on Instagram. She didn’t think it was possible to become pregnant after numerous chemotherapy treatments. After giving birth, a “no breastfeeding zone” banner that she hung in her delivery room went viral. Women from all over the world praised her for bringing attention to the stigma around mothers who cannot nurse or breastfeed.
Her daughter, Kendra Jane Koziel, was born in September 2018. She named her after the nurse who helped save her life. Today, nearly six years out from her breast cancer diagnosis, Koziel is loving life in her 30s and as a mother.
Los Angeles native Lindsey Gerhard is among the 5 percent of women who develop a new case of cancer in the affected breast following a mastectomy.
When Gerhard realized that she had to undergo chemotherapy and radiation therapy for a second time, she turned to Instagram to help herself process what was happening. “I continue to share my story because it helps me wrap my head around the path of recovery,” she shared.
The 36-year-old survivor shares positive messages, photos with her loved ones, and videos of herself jamming out to her favorite tunes and artists to help her regain confidence in her skin.
“The online cancer community changed my life. That may sound like an exaggeration, but it’s true,” according to Gerhard, who says online support wasn’t around to help her cope when she was first diagnosed with breast cancer.
Today, Gerhard has made it her goal to help others navigate their cancer diagnoses and life after remission by spearheading an online community of support called The Grateful Hearts.
Women’s health advocate Alejandra Campoverdi, 41, was anything but surprised when she learned that she has a BRCA2 gene mutation. Both her great-grandmother and grandmother died from breast cancer, and her mother, as well as two aunts, have also faced the malignant disease.
Back in 2017, Campoverdi ran for Congress. The potential repeal of the Affordable Care Act is what motivated her to campaign against other congressional candidates in California. “What no one knew at the time was just how personally I understood the ramifications of losing access to quality and affordable healthcare,” she said.
In 2018, Campoverdi shared her courageous decision to undergo a double mastectomy, which reduces her increased breast cancer risk. Days following the procedure, imaging tests done on Campoverdi’s removed breast tissue revealed that stage 0 non-invasive breast cancer was already present. However, her mastectomy would prevent her from requiring any additional treatment. “I had beaten breast cancer before I even knew I had it,” she declared.
In 2018, Campoverdi founded The Well Woman Coalition to bring awareness to BRCA and breast cancer for Latinas. She also partnered with Penn Medicine’s Basser Center for BRCA, LATINX & BRCA, to increase support and educational tools for women.
Towards the end of 2017, when Ashadee Miller was undergoing chemotherapy treatments for stage 3 breast cancer and began feeling like her body was giving up, she chose to be stronger instead and used the upcoming new year as her motivation to start sharing the many ups and downs of her breast cancer diagnosis on Instagram.
“As I started to share my story, it was so shocking and inspiring how the breast cancer community became real and alive to me and embraced me and my story,” explained Miller, 37, who is a resident in Millersburg, Ohio.
Miller said that one of her motivations for sharing her story online is to help others who have never had cancer to realize “the struggles we deal with that we rarely share,” and for “people to see us as more than pink ribbons.”
Let These Women Inspire and Guide You in Your Journey
Whether you are newly diagnosed, living with an advanced stage of cancer, making sense of life in survivorship, or navigating high-risk decisions, these five inspirational women have created an online movement to help others, including you, feel less alone. Give them a follow and explore #breastcancer on Instagram to connect with patients from around the world.
For a combination of conventional and alternative cancer treatments that target malignant cells without compromising healthy ones, call New Hope Unlimited now at 480-757-6573 to schedule a consultation.