A diagnosis with breast cancer changed the career path for Emily Piercell. Instead of pursuing a planned career in law, Piercell joined the team at Rethink Breast Cancer as the Community and Programs Specialist. As Canada’s first charity to bring relevant awareness to the 40s and under set, Rethink Breast Cancer empowers and informs young people who are concerned about and affected by breast cancer.
Describe your charity in a few sentences
Rethink Breast Cancer’s mission is to empower young people worldwide who are concerned about and affected by breast cancer through innovative resources, education, support and advocacy. Rethink brings bold, relevant awareness to foster a new generation of young and influential breast cancer supporters and, most importantly, respond to the unique needs of young women living with breast cancer.
What problem does it attempt to solve?
Young women diagnosed with breast cancer have a unique set of struggles. We are often just getting started establishing our life. We are starting out in our careers, romantic relationships, have young families or want to start having babies and a sudden diagnosis means we have to put everything on hold to go through aggressive cancer treatments. Being diagnosed young can be especially isolating and lonely because it is common to not see anyone looking like you at your doctor’s appointments and support groups. It is hard to really understand what it’s like to go through cancer unless you are actually going through it. Rethink created a community of women who fully understand and support one another, which is a really special and life changing thing.
When did you join it?
I joined Rethink Breast Cancer as a participant after I was diagnosed with breast cancer four years ago. Life drastically improved after I met others who I could relate to. Two years ago, a six-week contract fell into my lap to work for Rethink, which I enthusiastically accepted. I’m now at Rethink full-time as the Community and Programs Specialist.
What made you want to get involved?
I was diagnosed with breast cancer two months after graduating from law school. After a year of active treatment, I articled at a law firm and was called to the Bar. That summer I had major breast reconstruction surgery and had to recover over the summer. During my recovery I attended Rethink’s Stretch Heal Grow Retreat where I had the time to reflect about my diagnosis, year of treatment and what I wanted for my future. Even though I worked hard to become a lawyer, I know I’m where I’m supposed to be – helping other young women who have been diagnosed with cancer.
What was the situation like when you started? How has it changed since?
The breast cancer landscape was and still is a growing one. To be working in an environment that’s dedicated to young people affected by breast cancer feels especially important in today’s social media savvy world. It helps us educate people about breast health while connecting us to women all over the world who relate to and connect with our content.
What more needs to be done? How can our readers help?
We encourage people to be breast savvy by knowing their body and also their risk factors, which they can read more about on the Rethink Breast Cancer website. More definitely needs to be done in terms of Metastatic Breast Cancer awareness. Every year, approximately 5,200 women are diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer (MBC), which is incurable and carries an average survival rate of 2-3 years. Rethink Breast Cancer just launched a new campaign that is calling for 10,000 MBC Allies to stand together to help those with MBC live better and longer. Readers can sign up here to join us to sign the pledge to help double the MBC survival rate by changing policies and funding research.
Do you have any events coming up?
Our flagship fundraiser, Boobyball takes place across Canada during October (Toronto on October 4, Calgary on October 18, Ottawa, on October 25 and Vancouver on October 26). Tickets are selling out fast so get yours asap! For the first time ever, our Stretch Heal Grow retreat will be outside Ontario this October in Calgary. We also have monthly meet-ups for young women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer.
How can we follow/keep up-to-date with the charity?
Follow us on Instagram (@rethinkbreastcancer), Facebook (@Rethink Breast Cancer) or on Twitter (@rethinktweet).