Social media has provided a platform for cancer warriors and thrivers to unapologetically share their journey while offering support and resources. Here’s six of our fave follow-worthy influencers doing just that.
Whether it’s laughing at memes or gathering petition signatures, social media can be an important tool for distraction, education, connection, discourse and, most importantly, enacting social change in one’s daily life.
And while social media can serve as a platform for individuals to share their perfectly curated images, it can also provide a space for cancer warriors and thrivers to express their vulnerability with no filter. A cancer diagnosis doesn’t just impact the physical body but can also weigh heavily on one’s mental health. Sharing one’s story can be a cathartic release. The impact amplifies when the audience is able to connect with the story.
A simple Instagram caption can be the message someone needs to feel less alone in their own journey. It can also help others to understand an experience they haven’t endured, including what it’s like to live with cancer. Whether you are just starting your cancer journey or entering into recovery, you don’t have to heal alone. Social media can connect you to individuals who know what you’re going through because they are brave enough to say, “I”ve been there, too.”
We rounded up six of our favorite influencers who use their platforms to build connections, foster understanding and create valuable visibility to inspire people living with cancer to thrive.
Leanne Pero – @leanneperoofficial
Leanne Pero was given an all-clear after a stage III breast cancer battle in the summer of 2017. Two years later, Pero founded her own cancer charity, The Leanne Pero Foundation, which she used to create Black Women Rising – The Untold Cancer Stories. This U.K.-based exhibit shared the stories and portraits of black women in the cancer community. The project continues online with a podcast, as well as through support groups for both black men and black women with cancer. Pero uses her personal Instagram platform to share her own experience of perseverance. She also partners with brands such as Estée Lauder, Stella McCartney and Nike to create visibility for black cancer survivors on an even larger platform.
Allyn Rose – @allynrose
With a warm smile and a monthly #SelfExamGram reminder, Allyn Rose describes herself as your “Breast Friend.” Rose is the kind of friend who uses her own experience to help educate others. After losing her mother, grandmother and great aunt to breast cancer by the age of 16, Rose wanted to know as much as she could about breast cancer and prevention. Her decision to have a double mastectomy in her 20s gained her international media attention. Frustrated with the lack of information available about making this complex decision, Rose set out to create the resources she wished she had. Her nonprofit, The Previvor, was born. On both her personal social media and The Previvor’s page, Rose provides information to help women make informed decisions about their healthcare.
Ericka Hart – @ihartericka
When Erika Hart asked her plastic surgeon for an image of what her post-mastectomy scars would look like as a black person, it took the surgeon two weeks to provide an image. This experience moved Hart to advocate from her chest. Since she first went topless at Afropunk in 2016, Hart’s iconic imagery has put a much needed face to black queer cancer survivors. As an educator by trade, Hart rejects the term influencer. She uses her social media platform to help people learn more about social justice, race and sex while also gracing runways, magazine covers and festival stages
Stephanie Seban and Nalie Agustin both use their personal platforms to share what it’s like to be a young adult with cancer, and together they join forces to inspire their communities to thrive. Through their book, “The Thrivers’ Guide,” and their podcast, “Thriver Talks,” this duo shares resources for healing as well as inspires their audience to see that there is life beyond cancer. From scanxiety to sex, Seban and Agustin aren’t afraid to tackle difficult topics.
Dana Donofree – @daynadono
On Dana Donofree’s Instagram, she has a story highlight looking back on a decade’s worth of insights from her cancer journey. In this highlight, she shares the highs and lows of her cancer journey as well as the business venture her journey inspired, the women’s intimates brand Ana Ono. During her recovery, Donofree found herself looking for intimates that were sexy and comfortable for people who had breast reconstruction, breast surgery or a mastectomy. Her Instagram provides a personal look back on her journey, snaps from Ana Ono’s NYFW show (covered by Cancer Wellness), and her badass mastectomy tattoos.