First Person

Sharing a breast cancer journey live on Twitter


Staff writer Andrea Torres chronicles her breast cancer experiences in Tropical Life. Read past columns at

Wedding proposal update
Last week we told the love story of prosecutor Christine Zahralban and her boyfriend Scott Madden. She is a breast cancer survivor. She proposed July 4. He accepted. “She has shown that a person can endure and beat cancer while performing the rigorous schedule of a veteran prosecutor in the state attorney’s office,” said State Attorney Katherine Fernandez-Rundle. “Christine fights every battle in court and in life with the same determination and relentlessness. God bless her.”

Breast cancer chat on Twitter
Twitter followers, join us at Breast Cancer Social Media (BCSM). We meet at 9 p.m. Mondays by using the #bcsm hashtag. You can contact me @MiamiCrime. I look forward to connecting with you.

Xeni Jardin at Harvard Kennedy School

Before I was diagnosed with breast cancer, I was the regular reader of a website for technological savvy users with an appetite for the unique named Boing Boing. You can imagine my surprise when I found out that one of the site’s co-editors, Xeni Jardin, had been diagnosed with breast cancer months after I was diagnosed.

Jardin is a smart, self-taught Internet code writer, who has been a guest on National Public Radio, CNN International, Fox News, Wired and other media. She is 41.

When she contacted me and asked what chemotherapy was like, I picked up my keyboard like an AK-47: “stomach problems,” “nausea,” “body aches,” “blurry vision,” “metal taste,” “hives,” “loss of cognitive ability,” “house arrest,” “purgatory” and “poison.”

Since her diagnosis, she has been sharing her journey on Twitter, as if she was producing a reality TV show. I’m one of the 58,728 who follow her @Xeni. Her profile says: “Breast cancer isn’t something I have, but something my body is currently doing.”

I have grown to love Jardin. Not just because she is my cancer “comadre,” (buddy), but because we share an attraction to truth and science. I check up on her daily.

Most recently, after the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the Affordable Care Act, Jardin tweeted:

“NY GOP congress. candidate opposing health care reform: ‘People now don’t die...from breast cancer.’ ORLY?” (shorthand for “Oh, really?”)

She was referring to New York GOP congressional candidate Chris Collins’ recent statement after the Supreme Court upheld the act: “People now don’t die from prostate cancer, breast cancer and some of the other things.’’

In fact, the American Cancer Society estimates that about 577,190 people in the United States will die from cancer this year — more than 39,000 deaths from breast cancer, and more than 28,000 from prostate cancer.

If you are dealing with cancer, chances are you have heard of the Gerson Therapy, a non-toxic treatment based on a strict diet that its promoters say activates the body’s extraordinary ability to heal itself. The institute alleges it has treated “thousands” of people over the past six decades to help them “recover from so-called incurable diseases.”

Jardin’s opinion: “Gerson Cure is BS quackery. If coffee up the ass & veggie juice could cure cancer there’d be no more cancer.”

If you are dealing with cancer, you have probably also received the YouTube links of gurus lecturing about the healing power of the mind.

“You know what I want to imagine away?’’ she tweets. “Bulls--- artists spouting fake science about how cancer patients can just imagine away their cancer.’’

Through the course of her treatment, Jardin has shared many thoughts that could be turned into a line of T-shirts for breast cancer patients. A few favorites:

“I am not losing something. I am gaining life.”

“Cancer isn’t punishment for some unnamed past sin you committed. Hospital food is.”

“There is nothing pink ribbon about this. Breast surgery is like surviving war.”

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