“Do what you love. Don’t take anything seriously. Go out and live the life you want, with no hesitation.” - Sephra Regan
Sephra Regan is the co-founder of Noniko and a breast cancer survivor on a mission to rid the world of fear surrounding breast health. Before her diagnosis of breast cancer, she was a busy mom trying to keep all the balls in the air, while running a growing business that happened to be related to the prevention of breast cancer! She was also heavily involved in martial arts and had just earned her black belt in Fu Jow Pai kung fu. She would soon be applying some of the mental skills she learned on her breast cancer journey.
MK: What do you wish you’d known before being diagnosed with breast cancer?
SR: That I could survive breast cancer. The anxiety and fear I felt was crippling, I was too afraid to reach out and ask questions or talk to people because I was terrified of what I would hear.
MK: How has this experience changed your life?
SR: This experience taught me to lean into fear, much further into fear than I had ever gone before. It eventually brought me to a place of acceptance and gratitude. Being able to accept the unknown while feeling immense gratitude for the present moment has never been easy for me. This experience forced me into submission (in a good way) and I’m grateful for that. Nothing is as serious as we make it, nothing. Go enjoy your life, everyday! Do the things you love and feel drawn to, we put WAY too much pressure on ourselves to be one thing or the other. And when everything else is stripped away the only thing left is love.
MK: Tell me about your advocacy work.
SR: I am on a mission to normalize the relationship women have with their boobs. So many women I talk to are afraid to touch their breasts, they live their lives in avoidance and fear when it comes to this area of their body. I want to see a cultural shift around our feelings towards our breasts, make breast care as normal as washing your hair or brushing your teeth. I have formulated Boob Balm specifically for this purpose, in hopes that women will lose the fear and take their power back by incorporating this self-care ritual into their day. We (Noniko) have also started a “What’s under your shirt?” campaign to help bring attention to the importance of knowing your normal, but with an uplifting and playful tone that takes fear out of the equation.
MK: What are the biggest misconceptions about breast cancer and how are you working to change them?
SR: That breast cancer only happens to older women. More and more young women in their 20’s and 30’s are being diagnosed. This is why we desperately need to change the relationship we have with our boobs and to also teach our daughters and all young women that taking care of your breasts is part of a normal self-care ritual.
MK: What word do you wish you could take out of the breast cancer vocabulary?
MK: What would you like to see change in the advocacy world?
SR: I would like to see it lighten up. Fear doesn’t help change the situation, and doesn’t make us feel any better about it. We also need to start gearing it towards a younger generation, not in a fear mongering way but in a normal, fun, celebratory way. Our boobs will not be the end of us!
MK: How do you feel about the phrase “breast cancer awareness”?
SR: I feel like it’s become very dated and uninspiring, something people have grown numb to. I think everyone is aware that breast cancer exists, what we really need is a cultural shift that puts the power back into women’s hands. What we need is “Breast Awareness”. Nobody likes that C word!
MK: What would you tell a newly diagnosed young woman?
SR: I would tell her that treatment will be both the worst and best year of her life. Being stripped to your core has a way of revealing all that truly matters, and you will come out of this with a life better than the one you had before. You can’t become a phoenix without first going through the fire.
MK: Has cancer changed how you see adversity?
SR: No one likes to suffer, and nobody willingly goes through something difficult and terrifying. But in reality, it is what accelerates growth and positive change. Without it we would have nothing to compare our joys too and nothing to move us in the directions we were meant to go. As much as I still dislike adversity, I now see it as a blessing in wolves’ clothing!
MK: What one word defines you?
SR: “Human” is what comes to mind. I am just like everyone else with every imaginable emotion and feeling that comes along with navigating this life. If I have learned anything through this journey it’s that we are all far more similar than we are different.