Shauna Wears Pink

I will never forget the day my doctor uttered those horrifying words “I am sorry to tell you, but that is a cancer tumor that you have in your left breast”. I was 33 years old, and my life changed forever. I invite you to read my story, learn from it and hopefully be inspired to reach out to other young women living with and beyond breast cancer.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Why I tell my story

One year ago today, I ran a brush through my hair and half of it fell out in the sink. With my son sitting on my lap watching, my husband shaved the rest of my hair off. He then asked me to shave his head too promising that as long as I was bald he would be too. I know realize that it was that day one year ago when my hair fell out that I began to “Livestrong” in the words of Lance Armstrong and his army of cancer survivors. Up until that point I had only told very close family and friends that I had cancer. Once my hair fell out I had no choice but to begin to tell everyone what was happening to me and that I had breast cancer. Once I began to tell my story I slowly began to realize that just the simple act of telling my story makes a difference in this great battle we are fighting against cancer. My story and the story of every cancer survivor helps raise awareness of the national epidemic that we have on our hands. 1 in 3 women will get cancer in their lifetime and 1 in 2 men. Those are alarming statistics are what I believe qualifies as an epidemic. And although the death rate from cancer has gone down for the last few years for the first time in history, the new incidents of cancer continue to increase at an alarming rate. We lost less than 5,000 lives on that horrifying day on 9/11 five years ago, and our government has spent trillions of dollars securing us from another terrorist attack. This year in the United States, more than 1.3 million people will be diagnosed with cancer and the disease will kill nearly 600,000 Americans – more than 1,500 people a day. Yet this year despite the commitment of congress to provide an additional $7 billion for critical health and education programs, when these bills went through committee they were shortchanged by more than $2 billion in the Senate and almost $3 billion in the House. As a result, critical cancer research, early detection, and other programs are in danger of being severely under funded. It is unacceptable in my opinion that we are willing to spend trillions to secure our boarders, but we can not come up with $7 billion to continue to fund research to find a cure for cancer. I am angry and you should be too. I urge each of you to write to your congressman or women and tell them just that. The Livestrong organization has made this very easy with a pre-written electronic letter: Join the advocacy team and click on "Take Action Now"

I was privileged to serve as a delegate to the first ever Livestrong summit this weekend. The speakers where inspiring and I learned so much about what the private sector is doing to accelerate research to find a cure for cancer and what other cancer survivors and those effected by cancer are doing to fill in the gaps to meet the needs of cancer patients and survivors. I came away from the weekend energized and reassured that the simple act of telling my story to the public does so much to raise awareness about the battle we are waging against cancer. Information and news about this weekend’s event, including an interview with me and several other delegates at the conference, can be found at:

Also, below is a link to a 4-part story that was aired by a local news station in Austin for breast cancer awareness month. My story as a young survivor of breast cancer is told in Part 2, and other parts of my interview also appear in Part 1 and 4:

Friday, October 06, 2006

Have Wig, Will Work

The question I seem to get asked most often these days is, “When do you plan to go back to work?” The question never ceases to surprise me, and my response is always, “I never stopped working.” The truth is I worked what would be considered full time hours, even for a lawyer, throughout my treatment for breast cancer. When I was first diagnosed and met with my oncologist I fully expected that he would tell me that I would be too sick to work in between chemotherapy treatments which are administered every three weeks. Instead he told me that he planned to work them around my schedule and that by doing them on Fridays I would have the weekend to recover. He also assured me that modern medicine had come a long way in its efforts to minimize the side-effects of chemotherapy such as nausea. He was partially right. For me the nausea was pretty de-habilitating for a few days after each treatment, but by Tuesday of the following week I could usually muster the strength to get out of bed, get dressed and drive myself to work. In fact, my work as a corporate attorney turned out to be my salvation. If I could just muster up the strength to get in front of my computer, then I could lose myself in whatever legal matter my clients sent my way. My work kept me from dwelling on the constant pain and never ending side-effects that comes with heavy doses of chemotherapy. Work also helped me feel like a normal person. I invested in a couple nice brown wigs that looked much like my pre-cancer hair. Once I put on my wig and headed out the door, no one was the wiser. I could anonymously make my way through the day without any of those “Poor You” looks that I always got when I did not wear a wig. I feel like my work as an attorney really kept me from sliding into a big “pity party”. I simply stayed too busy with my work and spending time with my son to dwell on how miserable I felt. So I am so thankful to the partners in my law firm and my clients for hanging in there with me this past year. It really has been my saving grace.