Your body has been through one hell of an experience and it has taken your spirit along for the ride. You heard the words “you have breast cancer” and, despite the fear, anger, and sadness, you showed up and did what they asked you to do so that you could live. You did it for yourself and for those you love and you’d do it again if you had to. But you thought when it was “over” that you would feel like yourself again. That the reward would be not only to live but to resume your life as it was before. Sadly it rarely works that way. Cancer changes us and breast cancer leaves behind reminders, both physical and emotional. 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. We are learning to recover from the physical and emotional challenges of breast cancer by reconnecting with our bodies so that we can reclaim a sense of personal empowerment and self-reliance. We are here to learn to feel beautiful in our bodies again, as we are. 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.
As We Are Now is a private, online membership community where you will find a variety of information, tools and resources, all designed to help you find increased comfort and acceptance in your body as you learn to adjust to life beyond, and in spite of, breast cancer. Here you can connect with women who have shared similar experiences, get support when you need it, and contribute to the growth and healing of others.
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.”
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!). We provide a continually evolving, curated, guided, and moderated library of:
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? 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”.
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 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 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 email@example.com and we will do our best to point you in the right direction.
We get it. There is plenty of free "information" out there on the Internet. But 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. Here are our guidelines:
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.)
Stop sifting through random, outdated information on Google and trying to find connection with people who are at a completely different phase of their experience. Get what you need straight from a trusted source and people who've been there and are learning to thrive together!
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