If you're here it means you've been through a lot. You are a woman who's life has been forever changed by breast cancer. Regardless of your current cancer status you are never without the shadow it brings. And that sucks.
You may never be the same, but you can find a path towards finding yourself again.
This is a place where you don’t have to be a warrior. A place where you can claim your strength, not by showing up just to live, but by showing up so that you can LIVE WELL. So that you can be the best wife, mother, friend, the best version of YOU that you can be, as you are now.
Cancer takes a lot from us, we can’t deny that. But there are things you can take back. You can learn to work with your body. To see, love, accept and respect her, just as she is. Together we can reclaim our right to be strong, confident, and empowered, just as we are now.
We are a home for women who have been impacted by breast cancer but refuse to be defined by it.
Hundreds of thousands of women are newly diagnosed every year. Millions of women are living in survivorship. However the branding and messaging around breast cancer is very singular.
To the public we are patients, fighters, warriors, survivors, thrivers. We are wrapped in ribbons and shades of pink. We run races in boxing gloves and tutus. We joke about our "foobs" and use cute language like "breasties" and "pink sisters". They want us smiling and brave and fierce and to celebrate our victories over cancer loud and proud.
But you know the real truth about breast cancer. It is not pretty and it doesn't always leave you feeling ready to celebrate.
You can be strong and still be vulnerable. You can be proud and still not want to be labeled. You can be surviving and still not want to talk about it publicly. You can need support and still not feel seen nor heard if you don't fit the mold the world has created for you.
You are a Woman, complex and unique.
Together, we are learning to recover from the physical and emotional challenges of breast cancer by exploring our relationships with ourselves and each other so that we can reclaim a sense of personal empowerment and self-reliance.
We are here to learn to feel beautiful and confident as women again, as we are now. Whether you have recently completed your surgeries and treatments, are living years out but still trying to find your way in your “new normal”, or living with the daily challenges of metastatic disease while trying to live well, you are welcome here.
Our private, online membership community is A SAFE SPACE TO RECONNECT WITH YOURSELF. You will learn ways to deepen the mind/body connection and the ability to see your body as something precious to come into deeper relationship with her.
Through monthly themes you receive AN OPPORTUNITY TO CREATE CONFIDENCE AND SELF-RELIANCE. Taking control of your relationship with different areas of your life creates the ability to make informed decisions and to enrich your daily life while quieting the overwhelm caused by lack of and misinformation.
We utilize A COMBINATION OF INDIVIDUAL EXPLORATION AND GROUP ENGAGEMENT. Using our guided "Pathway" workshops you can work at your own pace as we explore a different theme every month and how it relates to your personal experience. Using this as a foundation for growth the community is here to add discussion, resources, and recommendations, as well as encouragement and support.
We are COMPLETELY VIRTUAL BUT WITH A DESTINATION. Our private virtual network, here on our own Mighty Network, is where everything happens. In a time when the world is unable to connect in person this Community was built to help you connect across the world. With a global virtual community you can give and gain insight with women around the world beyond the boundaries of local in-person support groups or events but without the public eye needed on more common platforms like Facebook and Instagram.
We create A CHANCE TO BE IN COMMUNITY WITH WOMEN WHO UNDERSTAND WHILE BEING RECOGNIZED FOR THE INDIVIDUAL YOU ARE. We are a community of women who have been impacted by breast cancer but don't want to be defined by it. We focus on living life as women first with topics that matter to us all like healthy living, relationships with ourselves and others, and finding joy in a turbulent world. We just do it in a way that allows us to address the unique challenges that we may face based on our experience with breast cancer.
No matter where you are in your personal experience living with or beyond cancer, our community can be a safe space for you. A place where you can not only learn, but be yourself, celebrate your wins, and share your tough days. When your family and friends just don’t understand, our community is here for you to seek guidance and support from those who “get it” because we’ve been there.
As a member of the As We Are Now online community, you get access to a private community web platform and mobile app that's fun to use and customizable to your interests (this is not another free-for-all social media group!).
Sign up online for our monthly membership Community. You have full access to all features of the platform as soon as you join and with monthly membership there is no commitment. You can cancel at any time (but hope you will stick around for a while!)
As you get familiar with everything inside, you can jump into one of the "Pathway" workshops that walk you through a guided exploration of your relationship with various life "themes" that may have been impacted by your breast cancer experience.
Take the opportunity to get to know other members, engage in discussions, share resources and recommendations, and build relationships that go deeper than your diagnosis or treatment type. Remember we are women first!
Here are some of the things you can expect throughout your membership.
As a group we engage in thoughtful, fun, and sometimes vulnerable conversations about what it's like to be a woman impacted by breast cancer such as how we identify in relation to the cancer community at large, what has surprised or impacted us the most in our experience so far, real challenges like forced menopause and its effects so that your friends can stop acting squeamish when you ”over share” (whatevs, we are not afraid to use adult language so please be know that if the occasional F-bomb or the word “vagina” offends you).
We offer helpful resources for personal exploration like:
As We Are Now is the creation of Amy Hartl, BRCA1+ woman, breast cancer “survivor”, Oncology Massage and Lymphatic Drainage Therapist.
“After living most of my life at high risk, my formal education in cancer studies began in 2012 when I entered the world of oncology massage therapy. I was called to working with women during and after breast cancer because I knew that I could be the one on the table one day. I loved the idea that in such a challenging time there were supportive methods of care that contributed to the client‘s physical healing and their emotional well being.
Through dedicated classes and hands on experience I learned to help women improve the look and feel of their scars, to regain flexibility and range of motion, and most importantly, to reconnect with their bodies and find self-acceptance in their new form. I learned about breast cancer itself - the types, the surgeries, the treatment options. I learned how to teach women to understand their risks around lymphedema and steps they could take to manage and even mitigate those risks.
All of this became extremely critical in my own life when I was diagnosed with stage 1 grade 3 IDC in 2017. I underwent a double mastectomy with immediate implant reconstruction, 8 rounds of bi-weekly chemotherapy, and the removal of my ovaries and Fallopian tubes sending me into surgical menopause, all at the age of 41. Through every stage of my cancer experience I was able to draw on the professional training I had received and the anecdotal learning provided by my clients, allowing me the unique opportunity to make informed decisions and confident choices. This knowledge continues to help in my healing journey and my intention is to put these same skills in the hands of women everywhere.”
We are a home for women who have been impacted by breast cancer but don't want to be defined by it. We focus on living life as women first with topics that matter to us all like healthy living, relationships with ourselves and others, and finding joy in a turbulent world.
We just do it in a way that allows us to address the unique challenges that we may face based on our experience with breast cancer.
You might be feeling a little lost in the shuffle of stepping back into the world now that the barrage of appointments are done. Maybe you are several years out but are still figuring out how to live your best life with life-long impacts from surgery and treatment. Living with metastatic disease but need a place to land and be a woman and not just a thriver? And yes, even those living at high risk (previvors to the outside world).
You are all welcome here.
It is very common for women to feel without guidance as they try to find the woman they knew themselves to be before breast cancer. We are here to help fill that void. We focus on addressing the common issues all women face with a unique focus on ongoing changes to our bodies caused by active treatment and the challenges to our lifestyles as we try to find our way through the “survivorship” phase and into every day life again.
We welcome all women impacted by breast cancer regardless of diagnosis or treatment choices, but those who will be best served here have completed their active treatment (i.e. chemotherapy, radiation, and (most of) their surgeries). We don’t consider hormone therapy (such as estrogen suppressors) or ongoing treatment for metastatic concerns to be the same as a primary round of “active treatment” because they are often part of the ongoing issue with finding “normalcy”.
PLEASE NOTE: If you are still “in the shit”, i.e. recently diagnosed, in the midst of active radiation, chemotherapy, or are still in the process of multiple surgeries, we won't turn you away but we invite you to take this the time to focus on your day to day care and recovery as well as your mental and emotional health. You may have lots of specific questions related to your diagnosis and treatment and that isn't what we focus on here.
We are working to figure out life as women beyond cancer, even if cancer is still with us. So if you think you you need this give us a try but please be respectful that our members aren't looking to give guidance on how to deal with chemo side effects or what you need to be prepared for surgery. You will most likely experience many more changes along the way and we encourage you to come back when you are in a place where we can best serve you as you navigate the next chapter of your story. However, if you need resources or recommendations that can assist you during your current stage of treatment please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will do our best to point you in the right direction.
There is an energetic exchange that happens when you trade your hard earned money for something you really want. It creates value. Investing in your well-being is a life-changing experience. We have found that by having a little skin in the game our members are more likely to show up for themselves and each other.
Want the less woo-woo reason?
It also means that those in charge are showing up consistently because this is not just a part time hobby it is a business. And we need more women in business in the breast cancer space so that we don't have to rely on the corporations or non-profits for all of our needs (or the rest of the world...).
Currently there are 779,000,000 (that‘s MILLION in case you got sick of counting zeros!) results that pop up when you search for “breast cancer” in The Great Google. And sadly it can be hard to differentiate between valid medical info and whackadoodle quackery or know who to trust among the various blogsperts (that’s people who think they’re experts because they are on the internet). And don’t forget the frightening array of pink paraphernalia that makes you feel like an outsider if pink tutus aren’t your thing (and really why are there so many pink kitchen appliances and who actually benefits from them?). It’s overwhelming to say the least and mildly frustrating at best.
We are here to cut through that noise, not add to it. We’re here to make your life easier in more ways than one. All of our articles, information, and resources are vetted both personally and professionally by our moderator (learn more about her here) and our members. By keeping a closed environment that requires a little skin in the game we ensure that you aren’t bombarded with the latest home remedy for preventing recurrence, half-truths about what’s safe for your body, or Judgy Judy lecturing you for your non-vegan diet and nightly glass of rosé (sorry Judy, it’s not you, it’s us). We’ve been in the multitude of free online “support” groups and navigating your way through the horror stories, the (understandable yet) endless questions of the newly diagnosed, and the downright Lord of the Flies-esque comments relating to lifestyle choices is not for us. We know they serve a purpose and we are glad they are out there but this space is for those seeking a deeper level of engagement, a sure sense of privacy (no FB data mining allowed!!), and those willing to offer a purposeful commitment to themselves and the rest of our community.
We need your help to keep As We Are Now as valuable, authentic, and safe as possible.
Approach the people and the content of this community with Loving Kindness. This means encourage and support your fellow members. We encourage your contributions but we ask that when you chime in it is with compassion and respect (or don’t chime in at all).
Finding our way through life beyond breast cancer has many challenges but we ask that you show up with Courageous Joy. This doesn’t mean blind positivity. It means be fully present in all of your feelings but engage in this space with the intent to find growth for yourself and with others. Grieving is encouraged but only in so much as it is used for processing and exploration of what can follow.
Be constructive in your contributions but practice Gentle Honesty. We’re here to push each other forward and lift each other up. Find ways to help each other think bigger, reframe challenges, and stay curious.
On that note, curiosity is critical for growth but it is also what killed the proverbial cat. Make sure that when you are inquiring about personal information or details of someone else’s story that you exercise Intentional Curiosity. In other words, what purpose does your question serve - is it something you need to know to provide helpful perspective or give you guidance? If not just let it be.
Please engage with a heart focused on Sincere Connection. Comment and share generously. Your stories and experiences may be exactly what another member needs to hear today to make a difference in their day. This community exists to help you learn. It’s not a place to spam, promote your services, or bully anyone else.
If something inside our community stirs unexpected feelings within in you, such as wanting to respond to a person or post harshly, we ask that you pause, take a breath, and be willing to engage in a little Open Reflection. Why does this particular nugget trigger you? What could be an underlying emotion coming up? Like they teach the kids these days before you respond, think about “is it kind, is it true, is it necessary?”
This space exists for growth and engagement and we ask that you enter with Purposeful Commitment. You are welcome to remain as long as you feel served and that you can engage on at least a minor level. It is ok to decide at some point that you have outgrown us but while you are here we hope you will use the information, tools, and resources provided to your benefit.
Lastly, be respectful of Our Culture. There are lots of different channels for support online and they all have their own vibes and energies. While we fully respect that every woman gets to do this cancer thing as it suits her, here at As We Are we are looking for more than simply asking for prayers, waving pink ribbons, and declaring each other a sisterhood. If you need prayers and support please let us know but try to frame it in a tangible way so that we can help you in your journey. Also, we are all about the love, but please refrain from shouting out your “pink sisters” as not all of us feel that type of bond with each other or want to be metaphorically tied together with a pink ribbon. We are all women who share a commonality but beyond that we are very diverse and need to be respectful of each other’s approaches and perspectives on this hand we’ve been dealt.
(And if you prefer legalese here are our terms and conditions.)
There is no contract or commitment and you can cancel at any time.
IF YOU ARE READY TO PUT YOURSELF FIRST, TO RECOVER FROM THE CHALLENGES OF BREAST CANCER, RECONNECT WITH THE WOMAN YOU KNOW YOURSELF TO BE, AND RECLAIM YOUR LIFE BEYOND BREAST CANCER THEN GIVE YOURSELF 30 DAYS INSIDE THE AS WE ARE NOW COMMUNITY AND LET THE REAL JOURNEY BEGIN!
(Please Note: Purchasing your subscription through the Mighty Networks iOS app will result in a higher monthly cost due to Apple's fees. Once you are subscribed through the web version however you can use the iOS or Android apps without any additional costs.)