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14 Selfies That Show What Breast Cancer Really Looks Like

Every October during Breast Cancer Awareness Month, millions of people, organizations and businesses adopt the “Think Pink” attitude. During this time and throughout the year, you probably see tons of pictures of smiling people wearing pink shirts, ribbons, socks, sports jerseys and more splashed across your Facebook and Instagram feeds, all sharing messages about mammograms and early detection.

These are awesome ways to raise awareness for breast cancer, but do they really show the reality of what it’s like to go through treatment or to survive the deadly disease? Do they really show the fear women face knowing that, according to the American Cancer Society, breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in women and the chance a woman will die from breast cancer is about 1 in 37?

From the first chemo treatment to life after a double mastectomy, we wanted to go beyond the displays of pink and show you what the journey of breast cancer treatment and survival really look like. These women are bravely sharing their breast cancer journey on Instagram and offering honest and powerful messages to keep in mind this month and beyond.

First Chemo Treatment

This danger space zone is actually me having my first chemo! The scalp ‘cooling’ machine (ha more like scalp ‘freeze’ and ‘suffocate’ machine) was the first challenge. Fortunately once they froze my fingers, the hour of frost bite torture took my mind right of my throbbing scalp. Small victories!! Ooh well, anything to prevent these finger nails from falling off! Challenge number 2 was watching the nurse climb into full toxic waste protective gear (goggles and all) just in case some of my poison splashed… But oh no it’s perfectly safe to put it directly into your blood stream! BUT, Chemo one is done and dusted. ???????????? Thank goodness I had my beautiful blankie and pashmina from gorgeous friends to keep me warm all day. ???? and i felt all the love sent from across the world ????… Thank you! #breastcancer #chemo #cancersucks #cancerwarrior #scalpcooling #frostbitefighter

A post shared by Kirstin Pretorius (@kicking_the_big_c) on

Read Kirstin’s story here.

Second Round of Chemo

This week I finished my second cycle of Taxol. Yay!!! One cycle closer to being finished ????????????. One of the potential side effects of my chemotherapy treatment is chemo brain. Chemo brain is the mental fog that some people can have during treatment. Some issues that people have are word finding trouble, difficult concentrating, trouble multitasking and lapses in memory. One way to help with chemo brain is to exercise your brain and your body! Thank you to Rita & Pete Fink for these fun books to help during treatment! #actchemo #taxol #paclitaxel #chemobrain #chemotherapy #adultcoloring #exerciseyourbrain #breastcancerawareness #pinktober #peripheralneuropathy #limbhypothermia #penguincoldcaps #scalphypothermia #gingerstrong #breastcancer #cancer #breastcancersucks #breastcancerfighter #fightlikeagirl #prettyinpink #iamawarrior #newnormal #doctorwithcancer

A post shared by Candace (@hrelec2) on

Learn more about Candace at A Young Doctor’s Journey with Breast Cancer.

Third Round of Chemo

Chemo #3 is officially underway! We are at the halfway point, you guys!

A post shared by Jessica Trojan (@gamer_jess) on

Sixteenth Round of Chemo

Effects of Chemo

Learn more about Chiara at Beauty Through the Beast.

Last Day of Chemo

Taken 4/12/17 after my last chemo. I went outside and found the sun. My face is bloated from steroids. My body is preparing for the onslaught of 3 week+ battles to just exist. It sucked. But I was so happy in this moment. Never assume that the battles people are fighting are public fixtures. I still struggle, greatly, with the fallout of cancer treatment. From random tunnel vision anxiety warps to eating a plate of food and feeling a huge sense of guilt. There are moments where a slight twitch of my hand is used to bring me back to the moment, or an escape to a quiet corner helps me collect myself. People can seem fine when they’re not. They can be brought right back to their islands of isolation with the mere memory of a bad fucking day. I’m always looking for the sun these days, but sometimes it’s just not there. That’s ok, and it doesn’t make you a soft, PC whineyhead to extend a moment of patience or kindness to those who need it. Time does not heal all wounds, and it does not always get easier. #wcw to all the ladies smiling through the dark tornados raging above their heads, for whatever reason.

A post shared by Jen Hodson (@jenhods) on

Read more about Jennifer on The Culture Trip.

Last day of radiation! #cancer #breastcancer #radiation

A post shared by @samanthahegre on

Six Months After Chemo


Scan•xiety (noun) [skan-zi-etee] The anxiety associated with cancer-detecting scans. It’s something us Cancer Thrivers always have at the back of our minds. It’s the first thing we think about in the morning and the last thing we think about at night. It’s the thought that not only consumes us, but our loved ones too. It’s what hits you when you least expect it. It’s what brings you down from your highest highs like the steep drop of a roller coaster ride (nauseating feeling included). October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and here is MY SCHEDULE: 1 lung scan. 1 bone scan. 1 brain MRI. 1 Hematologist appointment and tons of regular blood tests and appointments with my Oncologist. All precautions due to fluctuating blood-work & sporadic symptoms so we just wanna “make sure” it’s not cancer. A part of me… doesn’t even wanna know. <—� That is #scanxiety <—� This is real #breastcancerawareness I’ll be updating the blog/vlogs soon. Please don’t harass me for results as that just adds to my scanxiety ???? but i’ll keep you posted when I’M ready. ✨ Just keep visualizing for now. ???????? Thank you #naliesarmy #thediaryofnalie #Metastaticbreastcancer #thriver

A post shared by NALIE (@nalieagustin) on

Learn more about Nalie at her website and on YouTube.

Waking Up After a Mastectomy

Oh boy. Here’s me waking up (long hair and all!) after my #mastectomy nearly 3 months ago. A LOT has happened since then. A cancer diagnosis throws you so quickly from one step to the next, that sometimes it’s hard to process everything you’ve been through. I’ve been reading through some of my writings from those pre-surgery days though and man-oh-man! That was rough. Here’s a little flashback: “Dear breast you’ve served me well, but you’ve got to go. You’ve grown and you’ve shrunk since that little girl bump. I’ve laced you and supported you and maximized you and suppressed you. You’ve peeped through when I’ve needed your womanly allure. You’ve hidden from the world, but opened tenderly in love. You’ve nourished my babies, held longingly by little hands… and comforted. But you are not me. And I don’t need you anymore. I will still comfort and I will still love. I will still charm and tease. I will still hold and I will still laugh. I will still mother. I’m still me. I don’t need you anymore. I don’t need you anymore.”

A post shared by Kirstin Pretorius (@kicking_the_big_c) on

Three Weeks After a Mastectomy

Learn more about Emma at her website.


I am a #Survivor ❤ I am a #Warrior ❤ I am a #Fighter ❤ . October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month ???????????????????????????????????????????????? . Fact #2 : Breast Cancer is the most commonly diagnosed Cancer in women . . I initially felt lots of pain in my right breast and my lymph nodes were extremely swollen which alerted me to go to the doctor. Thankfully I caught it early but still had to get a mastectomy (total removal of my right breast) All that is left there is a beautiful Scar! Now I’m sharing this chapter of my story with others ???????? so please don’t ignore your body! Go get your BOOBS checked!!! . If you think this information may be helpful or inspiring to others, you are more than welcome to Share! ???????????????????????????? . “My Scar is the Representation of my Victory” That is why I show it Proudly and Boldly ❤

A post shared by Amber Dawn Rice (@feminine_phenom) on

Raising Awareness

Day 1 of breast cancer awareness month. Please remember when purchasing items this month to pay attention to where the money goes. Just because there is a pink ribbon does not mean it goes to help survivors. Throughout the month I will be posting about breast cancer and to which organizations you may want to consider supporting. #advocate #awareness #breastcancerawareness #strong #brave #women #thisiswhatbreastcancerlookslike #breastcancer #youngadultcancersurvivor #survivor #dc #washingtondc #igbeauty #raw #morethanapinkribbon #pleasekeepthepink #pinkribbon #awareness #october #pinkwashing #pink #pinktober #fuckcancer #chemo #radiation #doublemastectomy #treatment #tignotaro #beautiful #effyourbeautystandards #photooftheday

A post shared by Charity Sadé (@c_sade_b) on

Learn more about Charity on her website.

Do you have a story or photo that shows the reality of breast cancer during or after treatment? Share it with us in the comments below.