October is Breast Cancer Awareness month and according to the American Cancer Society, this year more than 287,000 women are expected to be diagnosed with the life-changing disease. Cheddar News' General Manager Kristin Malaspina is a survivor and hopes her experience can help others as they face down this difficult diagnosis.
While the physical side effects of chemotherapy are well-documented, it's not as common for people to discuss how a cancer diagnosis and treatment impacts a patient's mental well-being, as well as that of their families and loved ones.
Malaspina says she wished she had more people to turn to when she was diagnosed. That was part of the impetus for putting out this series. 
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Q: How did your breast cancer diagnosis impact your mental health?
Malaspina: "I think if your hair did not fall out it would be a [relatively speaking] better experience. It would be a different kind of management in your experience. I think losing your hair, your eyebrows, and your eyelashes is really just devastating. You're never just going to shave your head [under normal circumstances], for the most part. And to just see it fall [out] is very hard. It's what you look at everyday. I just found it very hard. You take a shower and your hair would fall out. It's not really something that I wanted people to be around."
Q: Did you feel a responsibility to reassure your family that everything was going to be okay?
Malaspina: "I was diagnosed in April [2020] but I didn't tell anyone until September. I only told a few people because I didn't want people to worry. No one can come with you [to treatment] anyway, but I think it's really bad when you know someone is sitting alone getting chemo."

Malaspina Recommends:

Chick Mission:
Egg storage for in vitro fertilisation (IVF). Tube of eggs in cryogenic (frozen) storage. Credit: Science Photo Library via Getty Images  
Being diagnosed with and ultimately undergoing treatment for breast cancer, while potentially life saving, creates its own set of obstacles. One of those issues being fertility after chemotherapy. The powerful chemo drugs can damage a woman's ovaries, sometimes causing delayed or immediate infertility, according to the American Cancer Society. The Chick Mission, a non-profit organization, specializes in helping women preserve pregnancy ahead of treatment.
With most breast cancer diagnoses, surgery will be required and that means there could be significant changes to breast size and shape. In some instances, a mastectomy or double mastectomy is necessary and this can be devastating for a woman. Like wigs, there are companies out there with the goal in mind to help restore confidence in breast cancer patients through bras designed to mimic the look of breasts. Some of Malaspina's favorite companies are ABC 525  and Anita Lymph-O-Fit.
Editor's note: These recommendations are not paid placements, they represent the opinions of one person. Every individual has different needs and reactions. Please make choices that work for you.