Did you know that an estimated 7 percent of women with breast cancer are diagnosed before the age of 40? When you think of this number, 40 isn’t old at all. It’s actually young to even think of having to tackle this life-changing obstacle.
That’s why these two empowering women – Rosalina and Shauna – decided to partner up on a podcast called “Too Young for this Sh*t” (TYFTS). This project documents their experiences as they navigate through breast cancer – and all the challenges that come with it. It’s dedicated to “providing comfort and resources to young women around the country.”
The project started last year and is currently in its second season. To get to know more about their podcast, BELatina News talked to both of the hosts on a deeper level.
Here’s how the conversation with the two hosts went down.
Tell me a bit about yourself and your background.
Rosalina: I’m Rosalina, 29 years old, Domincana living in Los Angeles with my partner Brian and our energetic, loving corgi, Louie. I’m a Sr. Digital Analyst working for an e-commerce company helping to create strategic marketing campaigns to scale and grow our customer base.
In February 2021, I was living in Seattle, Washington, when I received the devastating news. I was diagnosed with hormone-positive breast cancer at 28 years old with no genetic mutation. I, unfortunately, was the first in my Latino family to have this diagnosis. I had a single mastectomy with reconstruction, lymph node dissection, six rounds of chemotherapy, and 33 rounds of radiation therapy.
Shauna: My name is Shauna. I’m 34 years old and originally from Long Island. I work as a professional nanny and live in New York City with my partner Matt and our dog Phoenix.
In January 2021, at age 32, I was diagnosed with hormone-positive breast cancer. I had a double mastectomy with reconstruction and lymph node removal surgery, as well as 16 rounds of chemotherapy and 25 rounds of radiation. I am currently cancer free!
How did the both of you meet?
We met in a breast cancer support group on Facebook. Rosalina put out her first post wanting to start a breast cancer podcast and is looking for a co-host. Shauna loves listening to podcasts, and she stumbled upon Rosalina’s post and jumped at the chance to be considered. Rosalina reached out, set up a zoom meeting shortly after, and talked for over an hour. The conversation flowed well, and during our discussion, we found out we had similar diagnoses and were both going to experience chemotherapy and radiation simultaneously, which was more of a reason to start this podcast together.
What prompted the creation of TYFTS?
Rosalina: I felt very alone, confused, and angry when I received my diagnosis. While receiving my diagnosis, I’ve never been given a pamphlet to find AYA (Adult and Young Adolescents) cancer support group at the cancer center. Instead, I had to search on my own for an online community of young women in their 20s or early 30s who were dealing with the same diagnosis, but ultimately I felt defeated. Let alone, I’ve never heard of stories of young women going through breast cancer, especially in my culture. At the beginning of my diagnosis, I joined many Facebook support groups to find similar women like me, but I felt scared and not relatable.
However, a day after my single mastectomy surgery, I woke up with a sign from the universe to start my own community. I had the idea to start a podcast and rejoined those Facebook support groups to find a co-host going through a similar experience. My purpose and goal of the podcast are to:
- Create a community
- Document my experience so that no other young women feel alone in their journey
- Break the cancer stigma in the Latino community
- And bring awareness so more women can start becoming educated and being in tune with their bodies.
Do you feel the TYFTS podcast has been healing and good for your mental health?
Rosalina: Absolutely. I needed to let go of a lot of anger, sadness, and confusion I carried through for the first couple of months since being diagnosed. Everyone has a story to tell. I needed to tell my story for my sanity and to break my silence as a Latina because, unfortunately, in my experience, health isn’t discussed often in my family.
Shauna: Definitely! When I was first diagnosed, I didn’t know anyone personally that had experienced breast cancer in their early 30s. Now I have an entire community of young women to whom I can relate. I don’t feel isolated or alone anymore as I did at the beginning of my journey.
What has been the most challenging part of bringing the podcast to fruition and/or upkeep it?
Our biggest challenge is the time difference. We are on opposite sides of the country; both have full-time jobs and live active lives, so finding time to meet virtually can be tricky.
Have you spoken to your audience? If so, do you have a favorite story that someone from your audience shared?
We received so many kind messages and have interacted with so many amazing people in the year since we launched season one. Many of the messages we’ve received brought us to tears (happy tears) because these women were looking for someone to relate to in the most challenging time of their lives. We’re glad to be able to provide a supportive and safe space community where they can feel heard.
What do you hope the podcast can teach its listeners?
When someone listens to the podcast, we hope they feel like chatting with their best friend. We make sure to be authentic and honest about our experience with our breast cancer journey. Our goal is to get more women to perform breast exams regularly and self-advocate if they feel something off about their bodies.
Talk to me about your second season. What’s different and new about this season?
Season two is going to be a lot different than season one. We are out of active treatment and documenting what survivorship looks like for both of us because, if we’re being honest, breast cancer doesn’t go away once you’ve completed treatment. There is still a long journey ahead of us that we need to face, and it wasn’t easy going back to our “normal” selves. In addition, this season, we brought in different guests, from our partners and siblings to three amazing women who share their personal stories and how they have been affected by breast cancer.
Anything else you’d like to share with BELatina News?
We are always thinking big and ways that we can make a positive impact on our listeners. We would love to bring experts to our future podcasts, from financial literacy, sex, and intimacy to oncology therapists. If you would love to be on the podcast, please check out our site and fill out the podcast guest application.