Adam Walker: [00:00:00] From Susan G Komen. This is real pink, a podcast exploring real stories, struggles, and triumphs related to breast cancer. We’re taking the conversation from the doctor’s office to your living room.
On real pink. We often speak with breast cancer survivors and those living with metastatic breast cancer. And we hear stories about fear, confusion, and the anxiety that a breast cancer diagnosis can cause. But I’ve also heard from many men and women listening to real pink that they have been helped by hearing real life stories from other survivors that are sharing their expense.
So to share her personal story and her journey through breast cancer. Today, I get to interview Lindsey Livingston. Lindsay is a multimedia personality consultant and survive. She has worked as a TV news, anchor, host reporter and producer, and also lends her talents to various community corporate and social engagements as MC moderator and speaker.
She is the founder of survive her a breast cancer awareness and wellness media company, whose mission is to inform, inspire and empower women in Corp magazine named Lindsay to its inaugural 100 most influential blacks today. List in 2021. Lindsay, welcome to the show.
Lyndsay Levingston: [00:01:22] Thank you so much, Adam, for having me on real pink.
Adam Walker: [00:01:25] Wow. Excited to chat with you and hear your story. Love your energy. So let’s dive in, let’s start with your story. Can you tell us about your breast cancer diagnosis and treatment as well as what was going on in the rest of your life at the time?
Lyndsay Levingston: [00:01:40] Sure. I mean, how many hours do we have at it? There are a lot of moving parts, but I’ll summarize to the best of my ability in the summer, July night, or excuse me, December, 2019 and the month of July, I felt a lump in my right breast and I immediately scheduled a well-woman exam.
And it was during that well-woman exam that my OB-GYN scheduled an order. What was my very first mammogram, so we could imagine. The owing. And, uh, what I was thinking would happen at the age of 40 happened at the age of 37, uh, getting my first mammogram and then a series of other tests, mammogram, 3d, mammogram, breast ultrasound, and a biopsy.
And that biopsy confirmed that the lump that I felt in my right breast. Was indeed cancer. If I remember, uh, sitting in the bathroom and receiving a call from the radiologist and he said, I’m sorry, Lindsay, but it’s breast cancer. And it was kind of nonchalant and it just really, it hit me like a ton of bricks and I was speechless.
I couldn’t comprehend what I was hearing on the other end of the, of the phone conversation. So I was working in media, in New York city at the time. So all of that hosting reporting anchoring that came to a screeching halt, and I relocated back home to Houston to start treatment and care and to receive care.
So I relocated back home to Houston, met with my fantastic breast surgeon who happens to be a friend of the family. So I immediately, I felt like a family member was taking care of her. And she laid out my treatment plan, which would include 15 rounds of chemotherapy, uh, bilateral mastectomy and breast reconstruction.
And I power through all of that, all of the components and facets and phases of that life changing, um, health diagnosis. And I should also mention that before I even started the chemo journey. That because of my desire to become a mother, I underwent fertility preservation, egg retrieval to freeze some eggs so that I would have options after going through chemo to have children.
So it was a whirlwind. And now looking back at it at Adam, I’m like, wow, I went through all of that plus some other procedures and it’s, uh, again, I’m just so grateful to be a survivor.
Adam Walker: [00:04:17] Hmm. Wow. That sounds, uh, sounds like a lot to endure. And, uh, it sounds like you’ve got a great attitude on the other side of it.
So, uh, I love that. I love what you’re doing for the, for that survive her community, which I think we’ll be here hearing more about in a minute too. So, um, but I’m curious, do you have a family history of breast cancer or kind of what’s the story there?
Lyndsay Levingston: [00:04:40] Sure. So when I now with my breakfast origin, And she was reviewing all of the notes and talking about the treatment.
Um, I should also mention, I was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer stage two B just the most aggressive form. So we had to start treatment immediately. And at the time I didn’t know that I had any family history of breast cancer. So about midway through chemo, I took a genetic test through in BPAY and that genetic test revealed that I carry the BRCA one gene mutation.
And guess where it came from my dad’s side of the family, and I’m not, I wasn’t at the time, their communicative, nor was I very close with my dad’s side of the family cousins, you know, beyond the first cousins, second cousins, third cousins. I didn’t know. But what I learned is that I am the 14 female Levingston to have been diagnosed with breast cancer.
So part of my message through my, but survivor platform is know your family history because had I known that Adam years prior, I likely could have taken some preventative measures, maybe a prophylactic bilateral mastectomy, um, you know, just taking different measures. Life-changing measures preventative measures, uh, to change the outcome and the prognosis, but I know everything happens for a reason.
Um, so yes, no, your family history, whether it’s cancer, diabetes, sickle cell, you know, your family history.
Adam Walker: [00:06:11] Yeah. Yeah. That’s so important. And we’ve talked about that many times in the show, but it’s, I mean, it’s hard, it’s hard for families to talk about. Um, and it’s hard for just people to talk about, so I get it, but you’re right.
You got to ask the questions and
Lyndsay Levingston: [00:06:24] yeah. And you know, just like we talk about shopping or the newest movies out or pop culture, these conversations should be part of our conversations during holiday dinners or family reunions. And I know it’s uncomfortable. We have to start talking about it cause it’s not going to go away and we just have to make it part of our daily conversation.
Really. I, you know, I’m just so adamant about it. I’m just such an advocate and so passionate about it. I think it should be part of our day to day conversation. As much as we talk about health and fitness, let’s talk about our family history.
Adam Walker: [00:07:00] That’s right. So important. So important. So, so talk to me a little bit about what is your support group look like as you navigated through this
Lyndsay Levingston: [00:07:08] journey?
Well, one of the reasons Adam that I relocated back home to Houston is because it’s home for me and my village of supporters is in Houston. And my mother was my strong power through everything. Every part of the journey. I mean, she, she went to everyone. Every doctor’s appointment with me. And I lost count after like 20.
I can’t even tell you how many doctor’s appointments I had. And my aunt was my cheerleader and would help me through. I just had such a, just so blessed and fortunate to have such an amazing village church village, sorority sisters, family, and friends. I never had to ask for anything nor did I ever need for anything.
It was just such, such a tremendous blessing.
Adam Walker: [00:08:00] Wow. That’s fantastic. I mean, it sounds like a, probably a difficult move, you know, to move home with the diagnosis, but probably a really, really smart and thoughtful and ingrained.
Lyndsay Levingston: [00:08:11] Yes. I don’t know how I would have gone through a breast cancer journey and the busy city of new.
I was diagnosed in New York, but I don’t, I don’t know logistically like that. I would have wanted to hop in a cab to go to chemo or get on a subway or be around millions of people. So it was great that I was able to come home to Houston and rest and take it easy and not have to deal with the stress stores of the environment.
Adam Walker: [00:08:38] Yeah. Wow. So speaking of support, what advice can you give our listeners about how to best support someone that’s going through a bad breast cancer treat?
Lyndsay Levingston: [00:08:49] Show up for them when they don’t need it or ask for it. Some of the things that I remember as when a sorority sister or a friend or family member would ring my doorbell and deliver some food or send me an E if card, I remember someone just sent me a gift card to Uber eats for $200.
I was like, wow, just those unexpected gestures really mean lot. Prayer is always the best gift. Pray for the people. Pray for the persons, your loved ones, your friends are going through breast cancer offer to take them to a doctor’s appointment. Anything you can do to just help them along the way, and to help them to feel normal.
Like when you’re diagnosed with breast cancer, you’re going through your journey. People think, oh, I can’t talk to her. She’s not a normal person. She can’t like go to the park. I’m still, you know, your stuck person is still a human being. There’s still that person, they’re just that person with, you know, going through a challenge.
So still try to help that person maintain a sense of normalcy. Call them, you know, um, when I was diagnosed and I shared with my close circle, Some, either gravitated toward me and sent me care packages. And some just flew away is like, what is it? Slight spot? What is it? Flight? What does that term,
Adam Walker: [00:10:15] is it fight or flight?
Is that what it is?
Lyndsay Levingston: [00:10:18] Fight or flight? Yeah, one of those. So they were either fighting, battling breast cancer with me, or they flew away. And that’s when I was able to determine who was really in my corner, who was really supportive, but be there for the person. Check upon them, send them text messages, make them laugh, you know, just keeps the key, do whatever you can to just keep their spirits high and positive.
Adam Walker: [00:10:42] That’s fantastic. And I understand that you’ve used your experience to serve and support others. I’d love to learn more about survive her.
Lyndsay Levingston: [00:10:54] Oh, I’m so passionate about survivor Adam. So, and completing my treatment and my surgeries COVID happened. And of course the world came, the world froze and then we started to just try to adjust and pivot.
And so during that adjustment and pivot, I was trying to figure out, well, what can I do in my career that would make an impact? And how could I leverage my media background? And combine that with my personal breast cancer journey. So I created the platform formerly third thriver, but I’ve rebranded it to survive her.
And the goal is to inform, inspire and empower women around breast cancer, awareness and wellness beyond the month of October. Women just starting diagnosed in the month of October. It’s a year round thing, 36, 365, 24 7. And so through survived her, I have a survivor podcast by the way. Um, so I interview other survivors and health and wellness.
Minded people. I also am a brand spokesperson and I collaborate with a lot of brands. And then I also contribute to media platforms, whether it’s writing articles or do immediate interview. So I really just taking that TV news reporter. That ground and pouring it into and really meaningful brand. And I love the work that I do.
I love to host events. I host collaborate with nonprofits to host events, to raise money for mammograms so that I can support women who really need the funding for that, those critical mammography services. So I do a lot and it keeps me busy, but it’s fun. And so I just, I can’t talk, I could talk another hour about survival, but it’s so much fun.
I love the work I do. I love it. I love it. I love it.
Adam Walker: [00:12:54] That’s great. That’s great. It sounds like you’re, you’re helping a lot of people. You’re really making a huge impact. Um, and that’s, that’s just really fantastic. I love, love the work that you’re doing there. Thank you. So, all right, so, so last question.
What is the single most important thing that you would say to a newly diagnosed.
Lyndsay Levingston: [00:13:16] It’s only temporary, hard to understand at first, but it’s only temporary. Meaning what, what may seem like. Forever have an eternity of going through chemo treatments and being poked and prodded and blood drawn and surgeries and your breast removed and implants, and only temporary.
And your life will get better. You have so much to live for. Your perspective will change. You’ll appreciate life even more. It gets better sister. That’s what I would say to that woman who just received that phone call.
Adam Walker: [00:13:54] Hm. I love that. It’s so easy. I think, to get lost in the moment and to not recognize that, that there is, there’s a broader arc to the story and a lot of times, uh, things can, can improve across that arc.
Lyndsay Levingston: [00:14:08] yeah, absolutely. And, and for the women who are listening and men too, because I think it’s just as important to you that the coasts survive. Hear this message. But if you are a believer and for me, I leaned on my faith in God to pull me through and he did, I, I just really believed that he would heal me.
So it’s all about attitude and mindset and staying just in the, in the best of spirits and not get drawn into the darkness or deep, deep into the valley. But looking ahead to think optimistic impact. My breast surgeon told me 90% of me getting on the other end of this was my attitude. She’s like, you can stay in bed all day or you can get up and go for a walk and power through the pain.
And I did, I sure did.
Adam Walker: [00:15:00] Yeah. Attitude makes a huge difference in outcomes. And I mean, I’ve seen that time and again, with people that have interviewed on this podcast, and it sounds like you have an amazing and infectious attitude. So thank you for bringing that to the show.
Lyndsay Levingston: [00:15:14] Well, thank you so much. It was a pleasure sharing my story with you and to our listeners.
And I hope that I’ve impacted someone’s life. Even if even I could touch one life. I know that my job is done. So thank you so much for the invitation to join you on real pink.
Adam Walker: [00:15:31] Well, that’s right. That’s what it’s about. It’s about, it’s about impact. It’s about helping, um, it’s about the community. So thank you, Lindsay.
It’s been great talking.
Lyndsay Levingston: [00:15:40] Wonderful talking to you. Thanks again, Adam.
Adam Walker: [00:15:48] Thanks for listening to real pink, a weekly podcast by Susan G Komen for more episodes, visit real pink.com and.org for more on breast cancer. Visit komen.org. Make sure to check out at Susan G Komen on social media. I’m your host, Adam, you can find me on Twitter at UGA Walker or my blog, Adam J walker.com.