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Breast Cancer Blogger Offers Unflinching Reflections on the Disease

By Howard Ludwig | October 15, 2013 7:04am
 Katy Jacob, of Beverly, fought breast cancer in 2010. The disease came back this year. She chronicles her experience on her popular blog, KatyDid Cancer.
KatyDid Cancer
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BEVERLY — Katy Jacob isn't particularly impressed with Breast Cancer Awareness Month — which she's coined "Pinktober."

The disease tried to kill the Beverly resident in 2010. This summer, it had the gall to come back. The 38-year-old mother of two is now halfway through her latest round of chemotherapy.

All the while, Jacob has blogged about her experience at KatyDid Cancer. Her unflinching approach to the disease and candid thoughts have resulted in thousands of loyal followers.

"I've been pissed off about various offensive ad campaigns that make breast cancer seem like some kind of rite of passage, some kind of off-color commentary, related to training bras and mammogram parties and all kinds of other ridiculous things," Jacob wrote just days before everything from pickle jars to NFL wide receiver gloves turned hot pink.

This in-your-face brand of honesty landed Jacob on stage in May 2012. She submitted one of her blog posts to "Listen to Your Mother," a live stage show where women share passages about parenting.

Jacob's piece was a letter she wrote to her daughter on her fifth birthday. At the end of the five-minute monologue, there wasn't a dry eye in the sold-out Athenaeum Theatre at 2936 N. Southport Ave. in Lakeview.

Jacob started her blog the day after being diagnosed with triple-negative breast cancer. She was 34 and still nursing her infant son at the time.

The initial diagnosis was impossible to discuss without tears. So she created a blog. The audience began as friends and family. Jacob also thought the blog posts might be useful for her children.

"I thought if I died, they'd have these stories," she said.

Her popularity quickly grew, driven by Jacob's candid perspective on the disease. Her most popular post dates to April 1, 2011, and is the result of breast cancer survivors Googling the phrase, "post-chemo haircut."

"The haircut itself took about seven minutes, I swear. I showed her a picture of Emma Watson and said, I know mine is shorter than this, but this is the general idea," Jacob wrote.

Other popular posts include Jacob's post that broke the news of her cancer returning and the Playboy-style interview she conducted with her husband, Gabe Sterritt. In it, he revealed his innermost feelings regarding her post-mastectomy body.

"All of these women who have breast cancer were so appreciative," she said of the interview.

Jacob annually participates in the Beverly Breast Cancer Walk, which raises money for Little Company of Mary Hospital in suburban Evergreen Park.

However, her support for October's National Breast Cancer Awareness Month is tepid at best.

"Very, very little of the money goes to breast cancer research," Jacob said.

Most campaigns during "Pinktober" are intended to spread the word about breast cancer, but Jacob believes the word is already out. Painting everything pink only makes the disease seem trivial, she said.

"A lot of it has to do with 'saving the ta-tas,'" Jacob said. "Honestly, that becomes the least of your concerns."