005: You’re not Strong because of Cancer, you were Strong all Along
Updated: Jun 22, 2021
Wisdom from The Boobie Queen
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In this episode of the Your Killer Life podcast, Tammey talks with Whitney O’Connor. Whitney is a powerhouse of joy and founder of the Boobie Crown Company which she launched while undergoing oncology treatment with a very successful Kickstarter campaign and the intention to bring joy to others going through treatments. Diagnosed just after getting married and just before her 30th birthday, Whitney shares her wisdom when it comes to finding and creating happiness, while also reminding us that we were born with the strength to see this through. Currently undergoing treatment for her recurrence of cancer, Whitney talks with us about how she and her husband, the Boobie King, continue to find love, laughter and strength in one another.
“You know... you're not strong just because you have to go through breast cancer. You are strong to begin with. And we need to remember that. We need to remember that we were Queens from the beginning. We had the tools from the beginning.” -Whitney O'Connor Click to tweet
Topics in this Episode:
Newlywed and Newly Diagnosed
Family History and Hidden Genes
Adapting to New Realities and an Ever-Changing Body
Desperately Seeking Data
Finding Joy in the Fight
Service is a Love Language
The Boobie Crown
Please Reach Out if You Are Lost
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This podcast is professionally edited by Roth Media
Tammey: Hello and welcome to the Your Killer Life podcast. I am your host, Tammey Grable-Woodford, and I am so excited today because I have a very special guest with me, Whitney O'Connor, and Whitney, you are also known as the Boobie Queen, and I cannot wait to share your story with our listeners. So, can you kick us off and tell us a little bit about you?
Whitney: Absolutely. Thank you for having me, Tammey. I'm super pumped to be here and chat with you about all things boobs. So yeah, I am a 33 year old, breast… soon to be two time breast cancer survivor. Um, I'm currently going through my second round of treatment for breast cancer after a reoccurrence. I am also a licensed therapist as well, and do that, uh, as as my job and worked for a crisis hospital and have a little side business, which I will talk about with you guys.
But yeah, in a nutshell, that's a little bit about me.
Tammey: So, as a licensed therapist, I have to ask, do you work with other cancer patients and survivors, or is it outside of that and in something different?
Whitney: It's outside of that and in something different. However, I will say that we get people that come in who are in crisis because they just got bad news from the doctor and they're having a hard time with it. So, and they end up having a mental health crisis because of the news that they heard. So, we do encounter lots of people all ages in the crisis center that are going through some sort of something. So.
Tammey: So, I of course did my homework before we got on the podcast here, and if it's okay, I want to talk a little bit about when you were diagnosed because you are, you know, you're about to go through it… you're a two time survivor.
You're, you're only 33 and I was diagnosed at 43 and I'm older than that now, (both laughing) but you know, I would say both of us were diagnosed pretty young. You definitely very young. And so can you talk to us a little bit about how you discovered, what took you to the doctor and just kind of that, that whole process when you found out that, and you know what was going on in your life when you were diagnosed.
Newlywed and Newly Diagnosed
Whitney: Absolutely. So, a lot was going on in my life actually. I had just gotten married before I found out about breast cancer. So, I got married on New Year’s Eve in 2016 I went in January for my annual exam, and when I went in for my annual exam, my gynecologists uh, was feeling some lumps in my breasts and wanted me to have a mammogram.
And so, I went in to get my mammogram, and then after my mammogram, they put me in this other room. And those of you out there who have been through this, you know about the other room…
Tammey: Oh the other room…
Whitney: …yeah… went into the other room and another doctor came in and said, yeah, we're going to have to do a biopsy.
I didn't know exactly what that meant. I didn't know what was next. I didn't know that process. And I turned 30 the week after that, uh, after I got that news. Turn 30 and the following week I went in for my biopsy.
Now I did a thing that's probably not recommended by most people. Uh, I didn't tell anybody about any of this. I didn't even tell my new husband.
Whitney: I told my husband about all of this the night before, I went in to get a biopsy and he was like, Whitney, are you kidding me? Like, what are you thinking? Like what? Why didn't you talk to me about this? And all of that. And so I'm just the kind of person I want to know what I'm dealing with before I start breaking everybody's heart.
So, I told him the night before, he was very supportive, very sweet. And, we went in, did my biopsy and got the news the next week or so that it was breast cancer. And not only was it breast cancer, it was Stage 3 breast cancer, and it was recommended that I start moving with treatment immediately. So we had a lot of big decisions to make as a newlywed couple in a short period of time.
So that was a little stressful.
Whitney: If you can imagine. So, um, yeah, that was the unexpected, newly would gift that we got.
Tammey: So, you were diagnosed uh, stage 3b, and it's interesting you say you don't know what the biopsy and the process, it's very interesting to me, especially now as I'm in more survivor groups.
I'll admit, for me, I was very self-focused my first few years, right? I was researching everything relative to me. And so my diagnosis was infiltrating lobular carcinoma, and I didn't know. And for me, I found out the same day I went for the mammo, and then I got tucked into that little room. Then I went and had an ultrasound and her radiologist said, you've got cancer, you've got a lot of it, and we need to do a biopsy.
And then I got the phone call about mastectomies before I even had my biopsies. So… it's interesting to me, like the… the timing is so different for each of us. And so what type of breast cancer were you diagnosed with? Because I really want to highlight that there are so many, so many people think breast cancer is breast cancer and treatment is treatment.
And I and I did until I was diagnosed with it. So can you talk a little bit about your, your specific um… type of cancer.
Whitney: Yeah, absolutely. So I was diagnosed with HER2 positive. I immediately went into surgery mode when I found out that I had cancer. So… we had a lot of gift cards from our wedding and we went to the store and went and bought a bunch of surgery materials like the wedge and like the pregnancy pillow, you know, all of those different pillows and different things that they recommend you to have. That's what we spent our gift cards on, and we did that immediately. I did research and I was just feeling more and more at ease about it because I could get these things off of me. Right? I could go ahead and get the boobs away from me and I was fine with that.
Well then after, probably after a couple of weeks I found out…
You know what, I keep saying a week, couple of weeks, all of these days blurred together. You know what I mean? Like I'm, I'm, while I'm thinking about it, I'm like, was it two weeks. It was probably two days, but it felt like two weeks…
But anyway, um, my surgeon was like, yeah, we're going to have to do chemotherapy first and then surgery, and that was just like, Oh, really? I have to have these things on me. Like I just want to have the surgery. I want the boobies off. I'm okay with that. Let's just get it going. And I was not happy about having to have to do chemo first.
My father had to go through chemotherapy and my mother and brother and I were great caretakers for him, and that was only two years prior to this diagnosis.
Family History and Hidden Genes
Whitney: Yeah. So I had my dad who had a brain tumor, chemo, cancer, and passed away. Then two years later, I had to tell my family all over again, “Hey, we gotta do this cancer thing again.”
So I was familiar with what chemo looked like, and I was not looking forward to it. So that was the treatment recommendation, followed by radiation, which I did not do. So those are the things that that were part of my treatment plan.
Tammey: It's interesting, you and I were talking a little bit in the, what I like to call the technical green room, about different treatment options and how everyone takes a different path than even how recommendations are different. And I would say even now that I'm five years from m