Advocacy and Attitudes: An Interview with Pink Warrior Goddess
Advocacy and Attitudes: An Interview with the Pink Warrior Goddess
By Alexa Le
One warm and sunny Tuesday nearing summer’s end, I sat down to have a phone call conversation that would soon alter my perspective on the nuanced subject of breast cancer and the strong individuals battling it.
“How are you doing today?” inquired a warm, enthusiastic voice as it flowed through the speakers of my telephone, traveling the distance from San Diego to Orange County. The recipient on the other end of my phone call is a woman we will refer to as The Pink Warrior Goddess, who battled and defeated breast cancer back in 2014 and is currently beating it once again after discovering it in April of this year. She derived this name while she shared her journey with family and friends in 2014 chronicling her experiences and thoughts, appropriately using this self-titled moniker. The Pink Warrior Goddess kindly agreed to this interview in the hopes that her experiences will inform, educate, and advocate for other individuals with breast cancer, a sentiment that became avidly clear through the passion in her words.
After exchanging introductions, I began the interview by asking her to tell the audience about herself, from her family to her passions and everything in between. “Before we even get started,” she firmly prefaced, “I don’t own it. I don’t call it mine,” with the “it” in question I was assuming referred to the tumor. She briefly explained that she was introduced to the idea by her
hypnotherapist, the concept that it is not something that is a part of you. It was an interesting perspective that I hadn’t considered before, but knew was something I would want her to expand upon later.
“I have always been a high-energy, type-A personality. And type-A personalities have stress, so we tend to be more prone to this type of situation,” she remarked, detailing her history as a single mom for the first eleven years of her son’s life in conjunction with her statement. Growing up on the East Coast but now residing in San Diego, The Pink Warrior Goddess first learned of a stage 2A breast cancer diagnosis back in 2014, eerily diagnosed two years to the day of her father’s passing. After four rounds of two separate types of chemotherapy and thirty-three rounds of radiation therapy, she was found to be cancer-free, which is how she would remain for the next nine years. She continues to think of herself as a breast cancer survivor.
Disturbingly, the discovery of the tumor in April of 2023 was a complete accident. She had gone in for a routine endoscopy followed by an MRI for a hiatal hernia, during which the radiologist discovered two small spots on her spine. Additionally, they located triple negative cancer, which she refers to as the “boo boo tumor” to signify its detachment from herself as a person, to be on her side, beyond the scope of a mammogram. The most perturbing part of it all? Her last two mammograms and ultrasounds had come back completely clear. Recalling this with a disbelieving laugh, she states, “If you’re not familiar with it or you don’t know how to handle it, it’s petrifying… now I at least know what to do.”
As she detailed her experience with the healthcare system this time around, undergoing medical treatments such as chemotherapy once again, she noted that she is more confident about many things now. She told a story of the doctor assigned to her case that severely undermined her as a patient and was extremely unsupportive, looking at her as though “she had a death sentence”.
The Pink Warrior Goddess shared with me a perspective that shifted the way that I thought about the relationship between the healthcare system and its patients. “As the patient, you are the customer. You have choices, and not every doctor is perfect for every patient.” She recounted another story of one chemotherapy session where a nurse left dirty medical materials on the table in her designated chemotherapy area. Immediately pointing this out to the nurse,
she evidenced her belief that one must stand up to negligence when encountered. In this way, she draws the analogy that the people with you on your healthcare journey are your team, and you have the choice of who you want on your team.
“Here’s the problem: people don’t have advocates or don’t know how to advocate for themselves,” she states firmly regarding their position in the healthcare system, citing more elderly individuals such as her mother as evidence. “Even with the phenomenal programs out there, if a patient is unaware of them, they won’t get the help they need.” For The Pink Warrior
Goddess, advocacy is a large part of her life, both as a woman with a breast cancer diagnosis as well as a caretaker for her mother. On top of both of these, she is also busy with the process of starting her own business. Consequently, she is sharing the knowledge she has gained to become a fierce advocate of her own and the others surrounding herself.
“When you said earlier that you don’t own ‘it,’ could you elaborate on what that meant?” I asked her curiously, diverting back to the subject of her mindset regarding cancer.
“Sure,” she replied. “There’s a whole mental state that goes with it. We address it as not part of you, but simply something you are getting rid of.” This attitude embodied by The Pink Warrior Goddess is certainly a more unorthodox take, but one that I later found resonated with other individuals with breast cancer after broaching the subject with them. “I believe very strongly in prayer,” she continues, noting her frequent use of positive affirmations, hypnotherapy, and
prayer circles to indicate her steadfast emphasis on positivity in the face of adversity. Hearing the firm certitude in her voice, I could only marvel at her strength and bright outlook.
Her advice to other women and men in a similar situation to her? It’s a whole list, consisting of mental, financial, and physical tidbits. She reflects, “It’s okay to sit down and cry sometimes,” “focus on the positive affirmations,” “have a communication system with your family and friends,” “work with your social workers to locate resources,” and perhaps most importantly, “find your people- find your support system.” This is a complex situation that ultimately affects many aspects of an individual’s life, and the people in your corner can have a large impact on the journey you undergo. At the end of the day, she emphasizes, patients have more choices and options than they might believe they do.
The Pink Warrior Goddess’s story is one that intricately weaves belief with a positive attitude, marrying her conviction with a fervent passion for advocacy. She truly does live up to her self-titled moniker as the Pink Warrior Goddess in every regard. Within the past week, I actually spoke with her and she shared that the boo-boo tumor had disappeared from 3 centimeters down to nothing. “The doctor said that she wishes all her patients had my attitude,” she said.
Here at Breast Cancer Angels, we’ll be rooting for The Pink Warrior Goddess every step of the way.
This interview was conducted by Alexa Le with The Pink Warrior Goddess, who has elected to remain anonymous. She has edited and approved all of the details in this article. 9/2023