Welcome Anna Crollman
My name is Anna Crollman and I am a breast cancer survivor. I never thought I’d hear my name and cancer in the same sentence. But here I am. I can’t tell you how many doctors, nurses and strangers looked at me and said I was too young. I just so happen to be one of those unlucky women. My story is filled with pain and struggle but is ultimately a story of strength and growth.
My experience with breast cancer began in June 2015. I was 27 years old and my husband and I had just celebrated our 1 year wedding anniversary. We’d just sold our home and we’re hoping to start a family soon. Following my diagnosis, everything moved at lighting speed. My husband and I learned more about cancer in the next 3 weeks than anyone wants to know in their lifetime. I would need surgery, chemotherapy and targeting hormone therapy for many years to come. If we wanted to fulfill our dreams of starting a family someday, we also needed to complete fertility preservation procedures immediately. The doctors wanted to act quickly and be aggressive. We were forced to make decision about our future, our family and my body in a matter of weeks. From diagnosis to my first surgery flew by in less than three weeks. Cancer had taken control and we were along for the ride. The more educated we became, the more power we could reclaim. I didn’t have a choice about whether to lose my breasts or my hair, but I could control how I decide to approach the situation. I decided to choose happiness, strength and positivity.
Early into my treatment I felt isolated, alone and frustrated about the lack of resources available for young women with cancer. I struggled to find other young women in my area, who would understand what I was going through. The challenges of facing a cancer diagnosis in my 20s were unique. I had different things to worry about: intimacy, marriage, fertility, working, and body image. The faces I saw in the hospitals and waiting rooms didn’t look like mine. I felt like no one knew how to help me. I decided if I couldn’t find a story like mine, I should share my own. I didn’t want anyone else to experience the isolation that I felt. Lost in a sea of grey hair and old lady mastectomy bras. I wanted other young women to find their confidence and see their beauty during this awful time. I wanted them to have the confidence to rock the bald head and feel strong and sexy. One woman at a time, I spread my message and led by example through the creation of my website MyCancerChic.com. I was a lover of all things beauty and fashion and cancer wasn’t going to change that. Cancer may take my breasts and my hair but I would keep my lipstick and heels. I would keep my style and I WOULD find a way to feel beautiful despite it all.
The more I shared my story, the more I began to connect with other young women around the globe. They shared stories of their own, their struggles, their fears, and the way my story had changed their lives, brought them inspiration. I had found my tribe – my sisterhood. These connections brought me inspiration and a renewed strength to face the challenges ahead both during treatment and beyond.
I began to get more involved with nationwide organizations, like Young Survival Coalition, and Living Beyond Breast Cancer. Through these new connections, I found a renewed sense of purpose. I felt beautiful and empowered. I now knew that although cancer had changed me, it couldn’t control me. I had control over what I would make of this experience and my life moving forward. I decide to use it for good. It was my turn to give back to this community and change the lives of other young women like me. I never wanted cancer, but I can say without a doubt that cancer has changed my life for the better. I came away a more self-loving confident woman ready to take on any challenge life throws my way. I now run the local breast cancer support group for young women and my goal is to help young women brace breast cancer and beyond with style, grace and confidence.
Please follow Anna on Instagram @mycancerchic