Breast Cancer Awareness Month - BCBGMAXAZRIA

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10 | 01 | 21

BREAST CANCER AWARENESS MONTH: IT'S PERSONAL

Survivors Delaney Tabron and Sarah Gandy Talk Breast Self-Exams, Bravery and Boob Ninjas

10 | 01 | 21

BREAST CANCER AWARENESS MONTH:

IT'S PERSONAL

Survivors Delaney Tabron and Sarah Gandy Talk Breast Self-Exams, Bravery and Boob Ninjas

For us, Breast Cancer Awareness Month is more than pink ribbons and endorsements; it’s personal. That’s because our Vice President of Brand Creative Delaney Tabron is a survivor, and she’s made it her mission to educate women about breast cancer. 


Delaney was diagnosed with breast cancer in her thirties when she was too young for routine mammograms. Soon after, her close friend, broadcaster Sarah Gandy, was diagnosed as well. Delaney and Sarah were lucky they found their lumps themselves, because early diagnosis gave them the best possible chance for survival. Galvanized by their experiences, the two teamed up with the Change & Check campaign, launched in the UK by fellow survivor Helen Addis, to spread the word about the nine signs and symptoms of breast cancer. 

Here, Delaney and Sarah share their stories: what they learned, what got them through the hard times, what motivates them and more. 

@sarahontheradio 

@delaneytabron

You were both diagnosed with cancer in your thirties, what do you wish you’d known about breast cancer?

SARAH:

I always thought family history played a big part in the likelihood of getting breast cancer. That’s a risk factor, but the majority of women diagnosed have no family history. There’s no history of it in my family, and, like many breast cancer patients, I didn’t think it would happen to me—until it did. I wish I’d paid more attention to my breasts earlier on. What was so hard about a quick peek and a squeeze? I didn’t know the nine signs and symptoms of breast cancer; I thought my pain meant it wasn’t cancer, which is a myth. I now see how powerful that knowledge is for everyone!

DELANEY:

I wish I’d known that breast cancer isn’t a death sentence, and, if caught early, it can be completely curable. There are so many women who delay checking their breasts because they’re afraid. Sarah and I are living proof that if you go to the doctor right away, you can save your own life. Breast cancer doesn’t discriminate, men and women are affected, but if you know what your breasts naturally feel like, then you’ll notice when something feels different. I was young, in great health and had no family history of cancer, but because I had been checking my breasts regularly, I noticed a change.

What helped you stay positive while you were going through treatment?

SARAH:

Knowing Delaney had just been through a very similar treatment regime, and that she’d made it out the other side, was a huge help. She encouraged me constantly and listened to me whinge about the many chemo side effects (there were some fairly graphic texts exchanged). That support was huge. My husband Luke was amazing, as were our friends here in New Zealand. I had so much confidence in my medical team and felt like they were throwing everything they could at me. I also found ridiculous ways to channel my fears. I made a fake Coachella poster for a festival called “Chemo-chella” with a line-up of bands like My Chemical Romance and The Cure. I visualised boob ninjas taking out my tumors. I found other breast cancer survivors online and followed their stories. I stayed away from Googling survival statistics. That was my number-one rule: NO GOOGLING.

DELANEY:

A year before I was diagnosed, I packed my life into a single suitcase and moved from New Zealand to Los Angeles. Fighting cancer so far from family and friends was terrifying, but you never know how strong you are until you have to be. True courage can’t exist without fear, and it’s okay to be scared.

On my first day of chemotherapy, a stunning woman walked through the waiting room. She was calm, confident, beautifully dressed and completely bald. I was so afraid, but she looked at me and smiled. That one kind gesture from a stranger reassured me that I could get through treatment, that I would be okay. From that day forward, whenever I go to the cancer center I put on my best dress and smile. I owe it to all the brave women who faced this before me to light the way for all the brave women who follow. 

I was so devastated when Sarah, who’s one of my closest friends, was diagnosed with breast cancer too, but I’m glad I was able to offer her some hope and comfort.


Many of us would have wanted to hide, but you started working with the Change & Check campaign, first in New Zealand and now here in the US. What motivates you?

SARAH:

Cancer sucks. Turning that experience into something positive was a way of owning my story. It’s unusual for two good friends to both get a cancer diagnosis. To see Delaney go through it, and then find myself in the same boat, it felt like we were meant to create something out of all that hardship together. Change & Check was a simple way to get the information out there. As younger survivors, this was something we could do for everyone, but particularly for people who aren’t old enough for regular mammograms.

DELANEY:

I used to worry about getting older, and I would spend far too much money on wrinkle creams that promised to make me look like my sixteen-year-old self forever. Now I can’t wait to see what my wrinkled old lady face looks like. Growing old is an immense privilege, and I feel so lucky that Sarah and I survived. Every day that I wake up I feel profoundly grateful that I get to live another day, and I’m determined to share what we’ve learned. If we save one life it will make every moment worth it!


Do you have any survivor role models and how do they inspire you?

SARAH:

Delaney was my role model and guardian angel all in one. I’ve always loved her, but now we’re bonded together for life. Watching her navigate treatment, and life afterwards, inspired me that I could do it too. We have another mutual friend, Rebecca Wadey, who was diagnosed almost 20 years ago. She has created an inspiring and vibrant life for herself post-cancer, and she’s so generous with her time and advice. My friend Kat, who has dealt with cancer for more than 10 years, made me a playlist for my first day of chemo, along with a chemo-friendly goodie bag to help me through. She’s another fierce woman who’s living life fully, despite the trauma of a cancer diagnosis. All these amazing women inspired me to tackle cancer head-on, to face my fears and to share my story. 


DELANEY:

I’m only alive today because of our beautiful friend Rebecca Wadey. Many years before I was diagnosed, she shared her story with me and told me to check my breasts every month. I wouldn’t have noticed the lump otherwise. She was the first person I called when I got the news, and she helped me every step of the way. I literally owe her my life. Sarah also inspires me every day, and I love and admire her so much. Her positivity is infectious. Walking this journey with her by my side gives me the courage to tell my story. When women share knowledge, it has a powerful ripple effect that saves lives.

 

What are your goals for breast cancer awareness, both this month and in the years to come?

SARAH:

I want the nine signs and symptoms of breast cancer to be common knowledge. We all know the signs of a cold; imagine if we had that same level of knowledge when it comes to breast cancer. That’s why Change & Check exists. If people learn these signs when they’re young, they’re armed with that knowledge for life. There are many incredible organisations working towards the goal of zero breast cancer deaths, and I’m so grateful for their work. My hope is to reach that goal in my lifetime.

DELANEY:

I want every woman to check their breasts and understand that breast cancer is curable if caught early enough. Like Sarah, I hope medical advances will lead to a cure in our lifetimes, so the next generation will never have to experience breast cancer.

Can you share some words of encouragement for any young women who may currently be battling cancer?

SARAH:

Well firstly, I’m so sorry you’ve joined this super fun club that nobody wants to be a part of. You’ve probably been told “you’ve got this” by many many people already, but you do. You can also be over it, tired, frustrated… that’s also ok. My biggest advice is this: don’t wait until treatment ends to find something that makes you feel good. Find it now. Because you deserve to feel good despite everything you’re going through. Look after your mental space, and everything else will follow.

DELANEY:

People are going to say weird things to you. They’ll talk about their great aunt who died from breast cancer or that their dog’s cancer was cured by chewing on cloves. A well-meaning stranger once told me to rub oranges on my boobs to shrink the tumors. The people around you want to help, but they can’t, so they feel awkward and sad and powerless. The honest truth is that this journey is difficult and sometimes lonely, but it will change you in the most profound and meaningful ways. After this, you won’t sweat the small stuff. You’ll rediscover the beauty of just living—laughing with friends and spending time with those you love. Don’t lose hope. You’re not alone. My brilliant oncologist told me that because of the wonders of modern medicine, more women survive breast cancer than succumb to the disease. Many women have walked this path before you, and you will emerge stronger and more appreciative of every moment than you could have imagined.

This October, BCBGMAXAZRIA is joining forces with Delaney, Sarah and the Change & Check campaign to to include tips for self exams in every single BCBG order. We’ll also be celebrating women with an exclusive gift with purchase: a limited edition lingerie bag with orders of $300 or more, while supplies last. BCBGMAXAZRIA will give back with a donation to support breast cancer awareness.

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