Virginia Beach resident Charity Breidenbach does double duty as a lieutenant commander in the U.S. Navy and as mom to daughter Lizzy, 16, and son Clay, 11. In 2016 she will add another title to the list – Beyond Boobs! calendar model.
Charity’s life changed forever on July 26, 2013, when she was diagnosed with ER/PR positive, HER2 negative, stage 2B breast cancer after finding a lump during a self-exam. After her initial consult with a surgeon, the nurse navigator gave her a Beyond Boobs! Calendar to Live By 2013 and literature about the support BB! provides to women diagnosed with breast cancer. Charity attended her first support meeting in September 2013 and now proudly waves the Boober! flag.
In anticipation of the unveiling of A Calendar to Live By 2016 at the Pink Carpet Gala in September, Charity shares some personal details about her life and her involvement with BB!
What advice do you have for other women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer?
Don’t spend a minute thinking you are alone. You are not. This is scary, terrifying, sometimes even debilitating. But you are not alone. Reach out and talk to any one of us about what you’re feeling. I promise we’ve been there and we remember. But, look at us. We’re strong. We’re happy. We’re thriving. We want to help.
What is your favorite healthy food/dish?
Too many to list. I’ve always loved Mexican food, but I started cooking healthier after my diagnosis and now have quite the palate. Everything from butternut squash risotto to shepherd’s pie.
Who was your teenage celebrity heartthrob? How did you show your undying love?
Duran Duran, specifically John Taylor. I sent them letters asking them to come to my hometown (Abilene, Texas—HA! Fat chance!) and told them that they could stay at my house if the hotels were full. I bought their posters, every album, T-shirts, and once in fifth grade I got so caught up looking at an order form where they had some offerings that the teacher startled me when she said “Duran Duran” and I jumped out of my seat.
When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I knew from a very young age (8 or 9) that I wanted to join the military. It was going to be the Air Force, but divine intervention or sheer dumb luck put me in the Navy, where I’ve loved almost every minute of the last 20 years.
What does being selected as a calendar model mean to you?
It has given me the impetus I needed to be more vocal in support of the organization and the women who’ll be affected after me, after us. I’ve always put myself out in front to be a sounding board, but that doesn’t help future generations. The more vocal we are now about the need for prevention, the fewer women will need us in the future.
What was the most impactful moment of your calendar model photo shoot?
I loved being able to show my strength. Cancer can take many things from us, but it cannot take away our resolve to beat it. I also showed my faith in what keeps me strong. We are stronger because we are bound together.