My interview with Kayla was enlightening and informative beyond measure. First by mention of how back in 2021 they came to find the lump in their breast after coming across a Tik Tok video promoting a “Feel your boobies song”. Kayla decided to do a self-exam and they thought they found something. Having had a good friend diagnosed with colon cancer, Kayla knew to listen to that voice in their head that said, “You need to get this checked out.” So they called to schedule a mammogram only to have a receptionist dismiss them, saying they were much too young and it was probably nothing. That dismissal led to lots of complicated feelings and Kayla pushed the mammogram idea to the side. Fortunately there was one person in their life that provided the encouragement they needed to get a second opinion. In April of 2022 Kayla had their first appointment which turned into three mammograms and an ultrasound and biopsy (in the same day). These scans provided information that doctors used to determine that Kayla had three tumors in the breast and one in a lymph node as well: Stage 2 -HR, ER and PR+. Kayla wasted no time and had a port installed a week later with a treatment plan that included 8 rounds of chemo, surgery (double mastectomy with flap) followed by 20 days of radiation that concluded in late January of 2023.
Kayla has a passion for all things creative and looked to channeling that creativity throughout their treatment. They kept an art journal of sorts: a collection of writings and drawings they created during every step of the process. For Kayla, these pieces were healing and cathartic and a goal they set primarily to have something to force them to be doing something positive during this time. Engaging their left brain during such an emotional and traumatic time was a way to feel a sense of calm and comfort.
In addition to facing all of this news as a young person, they had an additional challenge.
Kayla is transgender-non binary and felt very lucky to have found an oncologist who was supportive and open to helping them find resources and support for as they put it “a queer with chest cancer.” After their treatment journey was complete Kayla set out to research what options were available to the queer community. Having found very little Kayla decided to connect with cancer resources in the area to begin the work of creating such a space and place. They are working with local cancer organization leaders (Pink Lemonade Project included) to launch a project. In Kayla’s words “There has been great community support for this concept. I personally find cancer to be the great equalizer – cancer doesn’t see color, cancer doesn’t see gender – it can affect anyone at any time.” Kayla’s hope is that this work they are doing in the community will help others facing cancer, but hopes that this specificity can connect this community to find a safe place to share their journey and connect with the others for emotional support. Kayla has transgender friends who have faced breast cancer and ovarian cancer with very little resources to help them through these difficult circumstances. Kayla is determined to join forces to become a part of the solution to find cancer support for everyone!
Technology sometimes leads us to unfamiliar territory and connects dots that desperately need connecting.
Think about it:
- a TIK TOK video helped Kayla find their cancer
- Kayla is using their personal cancer journey to help the trans / queer community find more resources and support for those facing cancer
- Waiting on that full circle moment…..when www.cancerqueers.com goes viral!
For more information on getting involved with Kayla’s project you can reach out via email at firstname.lastname@example.org