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Meeting My Survivor Siblings

Victoria St. Martin at the 2013 OMG Stupid Cancer Summit

Whenever I meet other young women with breast cancer, I’m sad and happy at the same time.

I hate knowing they had to experience this horrible disease but I’m happy it brought us together as sisters.

That feeling was magnified by the hundreds this past weekend at OMG! Cancer Summit for Young Adults in Las Vegas, where around 450 young cancer survivors and supporters networked and discussed, cried and laughed. We learned about how cancer treatments leave us all with lasting effects and how the doctors who care for us try to balance that with the quality of life concerns for people who haven’t had a mid-life crisis yet.
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Victoria St. MartinTwo years ago today, life, as I knew it, changed forever.

“There’s ductal carcinoma in your left breast,” was first thing the doctor said.

The next words that came out of her mouth were: “It’s breast cancer.”

She said it, I know now, to eliminate any confusion, to clarify the meaning of that scary, clinical word “carcinoma,” to make sure that I didn’t have any doubt about the challenge that lay before me. But at the time the words felt harsh, cold, and hollow – like someone was doing their best to break my heart.

I was 30 years old.

And I just been diagnosed with a disease that nearly everyone told me I was too young to have.

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A lot of my survivor sisters who are undergoing chemo ask me how long it’ll take their hair to grow back. Doctors say that the answer varies from woman to woman but after I finished chemo in August, I started taking photos of my hair each week to chart its progress of re-growth. The video above is three months of hair growth condensed into just over a minute – and I hope it inspires those of you who are fighting and serves as a reminder that there is light – and, yes, some hair follicles, too – at the end of the long, dark tunnel that is chemo.

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