My name is: Rebecca Russell or Beck.
I’m known for being: An LA-based fashion editor and breast cancer survivor.
I’m talking about: Breast cancer awareness and my exploration through the process.
Before I began this work, I was: A fashion editor.
This cause is important to me because: I was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer at age 31 in March 2019. My body was telling me that something wasn’t right. I had some central chest pains, which lead to further radiology and which revealed a tumor in my right breast. The pains ending up being anxiety and not the tumor at all. Hearing those words—“You have cancer”—at such a young age was heartbreaking. My life did a 180 and, of course, nothing has been the same again. The worst of it has been the hormone treatment I have to be on for five to ten years total. This dictates whether or not I will ever be able to carry my own child, and that’s tough to process. My husband and I are now pursuing surrogacy, which is a fascinating project, but, similar to my diagnosis, has definitely taken us awhile to get our heads around.
During my journey, I learned that: People can be pretty astonishing. I became so close, so quickly with many strangers and that was a beautiful experience. Other women who had recently been diagnosed would help to keep me afloat and, without those stunning souls, I’m not sure I would have got through it the way I did. I am grateful for the hardship, the essential education, and that I was able to navigate it all as I was guided by fellow warriors.
It was important to me to keep active during chemotherapy and radiation, so I would (and still do) go to mega-former Pilates a few times a week. I fell in love with it and, in many ways, it saved me mentally.
I decided to speak publicly because: A diagnosis at the age of 31 is shocking to say the least. I decided to take my diagnosis and use my platform and voice to be upfront about the vulnerability I never knew I had. Everyone’s story is unique and everyone has a right to vocalize in any form they desire.
One thing that amazed me was: How good it feels to give back and help others going through what you did. Nearly every couple of weeks, I hear from a newly diagnosed young girl who wants some advice and just someone to talk to. I love it so much!
A big takeaway for me was: The growth and empowerment that rises from the darkness you have to face. Questioning your own mortality at such a young age, when life has finally found its rhythm, is heartbreaking, but I also had some incredibly beautiful moments connecting with people during my diagnosis and treatment.
For me, what it means to be a woman warrior is: Having a strong sense of identity and accepting that life will try to cripple you. And maybe it does temporarily, but you learn to run again in time—you have to.
It’s important to make an impact because: I knew that I couldn’t change my diagnosis, however I swayed my perspective: I decided to share my story to help myself and others. The impact that it made and responses that I received gave my story meaning.
This can help us live our process because: Kindness is key. You never know what someone is dealing with—be gentle with others and yourself.