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Lianne Zhang

There’s going to be a moment when you look in the mirror and you won’t recognize who that person is. It’s both terrifying and beautiful, all at the same time. You realize that inner beauty is really what makes you unique and that the people that disappear in a time like this weren’t meant to be in your life anyways.

October is breast cancer awareness month. Lianne Zhang is a young breast cancer thriver in New York City. She created the popular instagram account, The Pink Ribbon Effect to document her journey as young Asian American breast cancer survivor. Lianne currently works at LinkedIn in New York City as an Enterprise Customer Success Manager. We are very honored to highlight her during breast cancer awareness month!

mK: Thanks for doing this Lianne! How did you find out about your diagnosis?
LZ: I had knocked into my lump a month prior, assuming it was a water pocket/cyst given my age, my gynecologist casually scheduled me an ultrasound the day of the 2016 elections. The radiologist immediately ordered a mammogram and my entire life changed within 24 hours.  I was diagnosed with Stage 2A invasive ductal carcinoma.

mK: What were your symptoms?
LZ: I didn’t have any of the typical symptoms of breast cancer like dimpling, leaking, and the tumor felt movable. At most, I’d say the tumor hurt a bit. The size of it was what alarmed and motivated me to get it checked out.

mK: Good thing you were proactive! How are you doing now? What are you up to?
LZ: I’m currently back to work full-time and am finishing out my Her2 treatment. It’s every 3 weeks and lasts until December. I’m slowly putting my life back together and adjusting to being Lianne 2.0 (new do’ and all!)

mK: Very cool! What motivates you?
LZ: My loved ones motivate me to be a better person. Also, the ability to see and understand the world motivates me to put myself in a position where I have the means to travel and enjoy life.

mK: Yeah, there is definitely a new perspective that makes you appreciate things more! Who is your personal hero or are your heroes?
LZ: My heros come in the form of family, friends, and other breasties who have lifted me up in some of my darkest hours. Not all heroes wear capes, that’s a lesson I’ve learned through the year.

mK: Right! Spiderman doesn’t wear a cape… j/k Seriously though, what makes you laugh, cry, angry?
LZ: I actively seek out people and things that make me laugh, cancer and disease make me cry and ignorant, racist or judgmental people make me angry.

mK: What would you say is the most interesting thing you’ve ever done?
LZ: Tough question! It’s so subjective. I have hugged tigers, danced nights away in Mykonos, marveled at Gaudi in Barcelona, ate my way through Asia, ATVed aimlessly through nameless roads in Costa Rica, and moved 18 times before I turned 30.

mK: Very cool! You definitely have been to a lot of places!  What is the toughest challenge a survivor faces?
LZ: The uncertainty of what will happen. However, isn’t that really a challenge that everyone faces?

mK: What is your guilty pleasure?
LZ: Celebrity magazines

mK: HAHAHA! Here’s a question to make you think… If you could time travel 100 years in the past or time travel 100 years in the future, which would you chose and why?
LZ: I’d choose 100 years in the future because I believe in appreciating the past but looking toward the future. I’d go to a cool new planet that I’m sure they will have discovered and take a leisurely rocket ride around the globe (as I’m sure that will be the norm by then.)

mK: Got ya.”Leisurely rocket ride”… make sure you wear a seat belt… HAHAHA!  What is next on your agenda?
LZ: I’d like to do a little victory lap of traveling, make peace with this cancer chapter and God willing, move on with my life.

mK: Any advice for people or loved ones that get daunting diagnoses?
LZ: What doesn’t kill you, literally makes you stronger.

mK: Tell us something about yourself that people probably didn’t know… anything.
LZ: I am the most introverted extrovert.

mK: A lot of us “oncology thrivers” are like that… just need a little nudge every so often. Any parting words or shout outs to particular people?
LZ: There’s going to be a moment when you look in the mirror and you won’t recognize who that person is. It’s both terrifying and beautiful, all at the same time. You realize that inner beauty is really what makes you unique and that the people that disappear in a time like this weren’t meant to be in your life anyways.

Lianne Zhang AKA “Lianne 2.0”: world traveler, introverted extrovert, celebrity magazine junkie, future “chillin’ rocket rider”, and proactive breast cancer thriver. Thanks for agreeing to do this Lianne, we are cheering for you in the next phase of your journey and look forward to seeing where you end up next!  Check out her Instagram account (thepinkribboneffect) or blog thepinkribboneffect.com

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