Balwinder is one of the members of our Patient Advisory Board. She was diagnosed with an aggressive stage 3 breast cancer, which required mastectomy surgery followed by sessions of chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
Following her diagnosis and end of her cancer treatment, Balwinder has taken part in some amazing opportunities such as a fashion show run by Breast Cancer Now; involving Estee Lauder and Videl Sassoon, raising 400K for charity. She also offers mentoring at work for others going through their treatment, and has been involved in writing a book on cancer stories for Think Pink.
It's been a pretty amazing journey and has involved some big life changes. But it's not been without its challenges. One of those has been how it impacted on her identity and sense of self, on personal identity and femininity. In some respects for Balwinder the upset about losing her hair felt worse than having the actual illness.
Being part of an Asian community also presented additional challenges. In these communities there is a lot of stigma around certain cancers and conditions, especially gender-related cancers. Balwinder joined an Asian breast cancer support group to help her deal with her diagnosis and join with others going through the same experience, taking part in 5K runs during her cancer treatment, which was a great help.
Even after you have completed your treatment you are left wondering what next? Completion of treatment presents its own challenges. Balwinder joined several groups, such as a ‘moving forward’ group, which is a group offering half day sessions after completion of cancer treatment. She is also a member of a charity called BRiC - set up to empower resilience in women with a primary or secondary diagnosis of breast cancer (see website). BRiC (the Centre for Building Resilience in Breast Cancer) educates and supports women through structured online activities and community care. You can also read their blog Panning for Gold and join their safe Facebook network.
Find out more about Balwinder's amazing story and the steps she has used to cope with her cancer journey, on her wear it pink page.