How, as non-binary, I navigated my brea…


How, as non-binary, I navigated my breast cancer diagnosis

June 5, 2024 | by Michelle Butterfield

When I learned I was diagnosed with breast cancer I was scared and disoriented. My whole life was derailed and my future became really unclear. I felt betrayed by my body.

Being non-binary, I’ve had to fight with the label of having a ‘woman’s cancer’ and being perceived as a woman in medical spaces and support spaces.

My relationship to my body and my breasts is different from much of what I’ve encountered or sought out. Most women never considered removing their breasts, whereas I've wanted to since being a teenager. Even my relationship to my hair — the hair on my head, my body hair is tied to my identity as a non-binary person. Losing the hair on my head - fine. Losing my moustache, leg, and armpit hair? Sad days! I cannot find this intersection of identity with chemo.

I felt supported in a non-judgmental space at Look Good Feel Better and came out of the workshop feeling more confident I could handle treatment. I left equipped with knowledge and beauty tools that will make treatment a bit more manageable, and give me a greater sense of control.

Natural, softer makeup and a simple skin regimen will go far for me in treatment. Learning about how my skin may behave and interact with makeup and lotions was very informative, especially regarding hygiene of makeup applicators. Tips to take care of my skin in treatment have been paying off.

It was special to sit in a room of other survivors from all walks of life and focus on feeling good.  Moving through possible side effects of treatment alongside mitigation through beauty routines was a great way to marry knowledge to a reclamation of body and beauty. As someone who's quite knowledgeable about makeup, I still took home information that I am applying to treatment and beyond. The products in my makeup bag were also a huge morale boost. Overall, it was a positive experience that gave me some autonomy back in this wacky cancer situation.