Yasmine's Breast Cancer Journey
If you've seen our commercial ad, you probably recognize this model. Meet Yasmine Ryback. She is the beautiful face with an equally beautiful heart featured in our campaign ads. Yasmine was recently diagnosed with breast cancer-but this gal is showing cancer just how much more she is than a pretty face!
How did you discover you had breast cancer?
I discovered a lump in my breast initially during a yoga class laying down on a mat. I would get painful jabs in my cleavage area with pressure. I touched the sensitive area and discovered a large mass. It would be 2 months later when I would get established with a primary care physician, then ob/gyn. The ob/gyn sent me off to a mammogram a few days later and the rest is history. Doctors say I likely had the cancer in my breast as I filmed the campaign for Our Skin Cares.
What are your biggest inspirations to help you keep fighting?
I grew up with 2 fierce women in my life, that is my very own mother and grandmother. Mom was always sure to remind me of the strong family lineage that rose above life challenges.
My grandmother’s mother died giving birth to a baby in Puerto Rico. This left her family motherless when she was 3 years old. My grandmother, Maria, was passed on to live with an aunt on a farm and always treated like an outsider. Soon enough, she left before completing high school to move to Chicago and met her love. Maria would work in a factory and later as a sterile processing technician to make ends meet. Later in life, my grandmother would suffer from stage 4, well-developed breast cancer that required a mastectomy followed by chemotherapy at 52 years of age. She lived an additional 26 years, but died from colon cancer just 2 years ago.
In relation to breast cancer, the ability for my grandmother to defy a grave prognosis is incredibly encouraging and a bonafide miracle. Watching her fight with grace and never flinching as she endured treatment was awe inspiring. I channeled her strength, perseverance and steady reliance on God. We had an incredible special connection as she primarily raised me in my formative years. It was love beyond that of a grandmother-more like a mother’s love. I often imagine conversations I would have with her if she were still alive. She would tell me that she is so sorry that I have cancer and feel terribly guilty as if it was somehow her fault. I imagine her worrying about me day/night and then promising to lift me in prayer every morning as sure as the sun would rise.
My mother overcame an abusive relationship and found herself raising me all by herself at the age of twenty. She walked away from jealous punches, knocked out teeth, infidelity and a husband that never wanted to play the role. You can say we grew up together. Times were humbling with a roach infested apartment, candy bars for dinner and succumbing to welfare for a short month. Mom put herself through nursing school where we moved into better housing and placed me in a private school in Chicago. There is a happy ending where she did find love in a man that embraced the role as husband and father. Today, she continues to work as a critical care nurse in a Chicago-area hospital where she pushed and supported me to be the first college graduate in our family. She showed me how to dig deep to those inner reserves where you think you have exhausted your all. When you have squeezed all the juice from the fruit, there is more.
What has been the biggest challenge?
The biggest challenge hasn’t been breast cancer, moving my family 4 times across the country, playing mom or wife, restarting my modeling/acting career with every relocation or the work of winning a pageant. The biggest challenge is ensuring I live a life filled with purpose and serving others in the way God intended each and every day.
What encouragement can you give other ladies in the fight or who may one day find themselves there?
First and foremost, love yourself and be committed to your health. I essentially eat healthy, workout regularly and have been educated as a R.N., but still afflicted by cancer. If you see something, say something and more importantly do something about it. Be your own advocate. Research, get second opinions, never settle and listen to your gut.
Interestingly, there is a breast cancer sisterhood. That sisterhood finds you in the form of strangers, other mothers and friends as they realize your diagnosis. Let them embrace you and put them in your pocket. These woman have been through the good and bad days. They have warred against cancer, the treatments, body image changes, emotion and medical research. I have found that it’s as simple as a nod or eye glance and they know my emotional state. No words exchanged, but almost an exchange of spirits.
What advice can you give to those wanting to help their loved one or friend through this (to those who have never walked through cancer their self)?
Speak less and listen more. Don’t ask what you can do for your loved one. Just do it for them. Show up on their doorstep with soup, flowers, willingness to watch their children, hot tea or just a hug. Cancer already presents itself with an overwhelming amount of information and emotion. Goodness, cancer feels like another job in itself. All energy and priorities are given to decision making and it’s such a relief when someone else can decide something as simple as the next meal. Send a note or care package to a cancer patient. It allows them to open messages on their terms. I received no less than 55 deliveries over the last 6 months of my cancer journey. I received packages from individuals that knew me my whole life, non-profit organizations, acquaintances and even strangers. It was a powerful way to let me know that I am loved and supported.
We sincerely hope that Yasmine's story inspires you to reach out to those around you. Share what your beautiful is with us- If it's featured on our blog, you will receive a free bottle of Anti-Aging Serum!