Breast Cancer Awareness Month: What it means to a survivor

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) – Sunday, October 1st marks the beginning of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. This morning we sat down with two-time survivor Caryn Sullivan, founder of PrettyWellness.com, to learn more about her journey and what this month looks like through a survivor’s eyes.

 Tell us about your cancer journey. When did it begin?

It has taken me several years to publicly write about my stories. While I love to talk, I never wanted to be “that girl with cancer.” I was proud that I gracefully smiled at surgery, chemo and hair loss in 2005. But, even more delighted that I jumped back into the corporate race and performed extremely well in an intense work environment without many knowing that I had overcome breast cancer.

 While I learned a lot about cancer in my 30’s, my 40th birthday marked a new era of learning about wellness. As most of my friends organized great vacation escapes to celebrate the new decade, I, on the other hand, spent our celebration money on a full-day doctor’s appointment at the Princeton Longevity Center. After a physical exam, EKG, bone scan, CAT scan and doctor’s meeting, the summary was that I had the body (heart) of a 29-year old (yippee) and a suspicious lesion on my sternum. Fast-forward one month and the conclusion – stage IV, metastatic breast cancer – the same one from 2004. It was then that I realized I needed to embrace my cancer life, not just look to get past it.

 So what did you do? How did you embrace your cancer life?

This aha moment came with this stage IV diagnosis. It shook us and I knew I couldn’t live in “what-if-bad-things happen to me” land. With full love and support from my husband, I utilized my resource-driven, organizational business skills and got to work figuring out my cancer life plan balancing western treatment with wellness modalities. We created PrettyWellness.com, our brand that represents research, experiences, meetings, interviews, observations, thoughts and goofy moments on the journey towards wellness. I want to show other cancer survivors that it’s possible to find joy and feel good through the hardship. I also hope to inspire others to learn to take better care of themselves. So, I take my message on the road, speaking to corporations and organizations about how embracing wellness has personal and professional benefits.

 How do you feel about Pinktober?

I have mixed emotions about Pinktober. One of my features that I wrote is titled “October I Just Want to Cry” and it’s about October from a breast cancer survivor’s point of view. There is tremendous value for awareness campaigns and research driven events. However, it’s also a constant reminder of a time that is so personal and heart-wrenching, so it’s often emotional and draining.

How can people locally support? What are your suggestions to those who want to support Pinktober in a meaningful way?

Be invested in your local town’s efforts – Fairfield paints the town pink supporting their Pink Pledge.

Find a local / global organization like these:

 The Cancer Couch Foundation – 100% of donations and event proceeds are matched and go directly to fund metastatic breast cancer research at two cutting edge labs (Dana Farber and Sloan Kettering).

They host an annual concert fundraiser, The Cancer Beat with Howard Jones on October 21 at FTC in Fairfield, CT.

The Get in Touch Foundation – Provides breast health initiatives to educate girls and boys on how to “get in touch” with their bodies to prevent disease.

They host an annual Pretty in Pink brunch on October 8, 2017 in Milford, CT

 Go to WTNH.com for more information on how to donate or attend these events:

 http://PrettyWellness.com

https://thecancercouch.com

 http://getintouchfoundation.org

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