Shhh…Speaking Out When You’re Expected …


Shhh…Speaking Out When You’re Expected to Remain Silent

Oct. 9, 2021 | by Madina Tabesh

Karen Logan-Lenford was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer, but she says that unlike many women of colour, she was open about her diagnosis. Karen was inspired to speak about her cancer experience shortly after being diagnosed. She details being surprised at seeing how many Black women and men were coming in for treatment, radiation, and lumpectomies, yet the topic is not widely brought up in her community. In Karen's opinion, accepting what happens to you to helps you deal with it. But why may some people not want to discuss a cancer diagnosis?

Many reasons may lead to someone not openly sharing their diagnosis, including the fear of 'what will people think' to not wanting to 'burden' others for help. As a result, some people may not receive adequate support during diagnosis and treatment. In Karen's words, "we don't get that hardcore support we should be receiving." "And support is important, inside your house especially…the pressure comes at night when you're in bed and your thoughts are racing, that's when it's important", she says. For Karen, her greatest support comes from her partner, whom she describes as her strength.

Support during cancer is essential, as a diagnosis may come with stress, depression, and anxiety. From Karen's perspective, you can't avoid how you are feeling. Accepting however you may feel and developing a mindset to deal with the whirlwind of emotions is critical. "There are too many stories causing fear, we need to convince people it's more painful not knowing," says Karen, further adding that, "the worst thing you can do is keep quiet."

Facing cancer with her partner at her side has given Karen the opportunity to speak openly and comfortably to others about her breast cancer diagnosis, adding a bit of humor to an otherwise taboo topic. Much to Karen’s surprise, many in her community rallied around her. Karen adds that, "when I'm feeling down, I go on Facebook live and speak my truth. People will tap in and send me words of encouragement and prayer; many I don't know.”  Karen also believes that by sharing her experience, she is helping others.  While some people are shocked by Karen’s vocalness, she already has a great response, "I simply tell them: check your titties!"