Breast Cancer & Women Diagnosed at a Young Age
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. And while breast cancer is something that affects women 365 days a year, we would be remiss not to take time this month to bring awareness to the fact that breast cancer is something that affects all women, including women under the age of 40. Young women diagnosed with breast cancer benefit from finding community and support.
About 1 in 8 U.S. women (about 13%) will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime. And while the disease is often thought of as an “older woman’s disease”, there are thousands of women under the age of 40 diagnosed each year. It’s important to note that according to Breastcancer.org, “In women under 45, breast cancer is more common in Black women than white women. Overall, Black women are more likely to die of breast cancer.” For these young women diagnosed with breast cancer, facing such a sever diagnosis can leave them feeling lost, alone and directionless. Fortunately, there is a publication and writing community called Wildfire that was created to support these women and give them a sense of safety and community.
April Stearns, founder of Wildfire Magazine & Writing Community created the publication after her own diagnosis of breast cancer when she was just 35. After she found out she had breast cancer, her life felt upended, and she was struggling to make sense of what had happened to her and move forward in a way that felt functional and safe. That’s when she decided to create a space that would allow young women diagnosed with breast cancer an opportunity to make sense of what had happened to them while finding meaning in their diagnosis so that they could feel safe and supported once again.
“I help people tell their stories and I publish those stories in Wildfire Magazine.” Stearns explains. Wildfire is a print and digital magazine that comes out every other month on issues related to survivorship. Each issue is based on a theme that addresses the big questions that young women diagnosed with breast cancer often have such as body image, mental health, and intimacy that young women diagnosed with breast cancer often have.
Through Wildfire Magazine, Stearns has been able to share both real stories and real images of women diagnosed with breast cancer in a way that helps create road maps for other women in the same situation. These road maps help women diagnosed young feel a sense of belonging while seeing themselves reflected beautifully in a way that helps them make sense of what has happened to them.
Wildfire Magazine is so much more than a print publication. Stearns also offers writing workshops that help women diagnosed young with breast cancer make sense of what has happened by exploring themes that they haven’t felt brave enough or were lacking the tools to address. These workshops give participants the ability to tell their personal stories through writing all while being in community with other young women diagnosed with breast cancer who can truly relate, empathize and share support.
If you or someone you know could use the kind of support that Wildfire Magazine and Writing Community offers consider subscribing to the magazine. You can subscribe here or choose a specific issue from the Wildfire shop here. Issues to choose from include topics like Body, Family, Survivorship, and Change makers.
Each issue of Wildfire Magazine is approximately 100 pages and contains both long-form and short essays as well as poetry, photography and artwork. Additionally readers can expect to enjoy recurring columns on yoga and nutrition as well as tips for how to use writing as a healing tool. Wildfire Magazine includes stories from all stages of breast cancer from all around the world and each issue features 20-30 contributors.
Why subscribe? While you can search the internet for information on breast cancer, what results is thousands of articles from medical sites and blogs as well as a slew of products colored pink in an effort to make money. Wildfire Magazine sets itself apart by getting straight to the truth: sharing deeply personal, 100% real, heart-felt stories and experiences that will inform and validate the reader’s own experience. In and effort to create a safe place where contributors can bare themselves authentically (sometimes quite literally), it is necessary to put a protective measure in place that allows each issue to get to the people who need it most.
If you are curious about Wildfire, but not sure you are ready to subscribe, you can read a sample issue here.