This will be my 4th year attending the YSC Summit. I still feel as strongly connected to this community as I did 4 years ago. My needs and role within the community have changed over the years, but the bonds I have formed are still unbreakable.
I now attend the Summit as a seasoned cancer thriver and, while it’s surreal to say, I am 3 years out from active treatment.
I feel it is my duty to share my experience, support and insight with others in this community. Strong, amazing women helped me when I was new to cancer and terrified for the future. Now it is my turn. I am on the other side and able to help other women walk this path. I cannot wait to see what lies in store for us at this year’s YSC Summit: an opportunity for learning, embraces with old friends and precious moments shared with women newly diagnosed women looking for hope and someone to understand what they’re going through.
Community is Everything
The sisterhood within the breast cancer community provides immense support and empowerment. The experience of facing cancer at any age, especially in your twenties can be extremely isolating. Finding other women who get it and support you can make a world of difference. Our shared experiences and vulnerability allow us to skip introduction and form deep lasting friendships.
Many of the women I met at my first YSC Summit I am still close with today. They have helped me through the deepest lows and the most joyous moments of my life since my diagnosis. If it were not for the Summit I would not have these amazing friends in my life.
In the world of social media, we can stay connected thousands of miles apart but there is nothing like being surrounded by that community in person. The powerful energy of the hundred of cancer thrivers celebrating life is palpable and overwhelming.
While the majority of the YSC Summit is fun, exciting and social, there is an element of grief each year. Cancer sucks and being diagnosed so young means many of us have faced the loss of loved ones and friends taken from us too soon by this disease. YSC Summit has provided a safe space for me to grieve in the arms of women who understand what I am going through. When I burst into tears at the Zumba class last year, I felt surrounded by love and supported even in my moments of pain. We could hold each other and grieve the loss of our friend Melissa, who we lost too soon.
This year I will have a new pain I carry with me to YSC, the pain of child loss. My heart will be raw having lost two pregnancies this year – one in an natural ectopic pregnancy and one miscarriage following a frozen embryo transfer. Many young women want to have a baby after breast cancer treatment. While I had hoped to share news of my pregnancy to bring hope to others, I know my experience will help in someway. Even if it serves to help others feel less alone in their hurt and disappointment.
While traveling seems daunting right now, I know it will be a healing space – surrounded by women who can share my pain and help me rebuild my hope for the future. We are in this together. Whatever you are facing or grieving, the YSC community will meet you there and support you through it. You don’t have to come happy or “on,” you just have to be you and be there.
About YSC Summit
Knowledge is Power
When we are initially diagnosed, we think there is one kind of breast cancer. But we quickly learn that is the biggest myth of all. Each case of breast cancer is unique. And with that comes side effects, treatment options and experiences. While we are united by our common group, we must remember and find comfort in the fact that we are unique. Comparing our cases to one another can cause stress and anxiety.
Each year at the Summit I glean new information about current breast cancer research, new treatment options and the outlook for our future. Having this knowledge makes me feel more informed and empowered. While cancer no longer governs my day to day life, it will always play a role and that’s OK. The more I know I can take control of my future and my care I continue to be reminded that I must advocate for myself, and continue asking questions.
Each Story is Worthy
Each woman I meet within the breast cancer community has a unique voice and a special story to tell. Some are beginning their cancer journeys and others are many years out from treatment. The best part is that the YSC Summit has space and support for all of those voices, and unique experiences. We need the newly diagnosed women to remind us to fight for change and we need those further out to bring us hope for the future. Wherever you are in the journey, the YSC community is here for you.
Anna Crollman is blogger, breast cancer survivor, and writer specializing in wellness, self-love and beauty content. She uses her compelling experience of facing breast cancer in her 20s to inspire young women to thrive in the face of adversity with strength, self-confidence and style. Anna is passionate about helping young women find their inner confidence, recognize the value of their story and overcome the challenges they face through self-love and whole life wellness. Through relatable and authentic content My Cancer Chic provides inspiration, support and guidance for young women around the world.