EAGLE -- Mary McFarland is a mother, grandmother, writer, member of the Eagle City Council, and breast cancer survivor. She's been cancer-free for seven years, but the disease has changed her life.

She's also not shy about sharing her feelings when it comes to social media and the disease.

In a Facebook post that's been widely shared, McFarland and her daughter say they want to challenge the perception of what it means for women to openly talk about breast cancer online.


McFarland was performing a monthly breast self-exam when she felt abnormal lumps in her breast.

I freaked out big time, said McFarland. Luckily, I had an appointment two days later, already set up for an annual exam, and she seemed to know instantly.

McFarland had Stage 3 breast cancer that had spread to her lymph nodes. She had just gotten insurance three days before.

When they tell you there's only four stages and you're in stage three, it's pretty scary, said McFarland.

She went through radiation, chemotherapy and a double mastectomy.

Really what I went through was everyday waking up for months, having to remind myself this was really my life because you go to sleep and then you wake up and then it's like, 'no, it's real, this is true,' McFarland said. And of course you look in the mirror and it's a real reminder that it's real.


McFarland said her daughter Allie, who was 20 at the time of her diagnosis, and didn't talk a lot about breast cancer even while her mother was going through it. That changed with a Facebook post on March 28.

Allie Marfil's post is about having an honest conversation about breast cancer with people you care about. In just six days, the post has been shared more than 800 times, leading one of Allie's friends to her own diagnosis.

She's had a 19-year-old friend have breast cancer, she's had a 30-year-old friend pregnant [and] with breast cancer and dealing with all that, and she was frustrated with the light-heartedness of some of these Facebook posts that kind of made it a game, McFarland said of her daughter.

Facebook trends come along to encourage awareness through things like posting a 'selfie' with no makeup, or posting about where you put your purse. McFarland says those topics seem ridiculously simple when compared to a deadly disease.

I think it takes away the seriousness of the lives that have been lost, and the lives that have been changed, McFarland said.

Post by Allison Marfil.
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