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We are The Underbelly

At first, we were patients, then we were friends, and now we are advocates, committed to shining light on darker, yet incredibly important aspects of breast cancer.  

How do you reconcile your cancer experience when the common narrative doesn’t accurately reflect your own?  Let’s talk about being face down in the mud, defeated, and ready to give up.  Let’s honor our collective grief, help one another process and find ways to forge ahead together and in our own unique way.

We’ve built a place where women (and men) can turn to for powerful, raw, personal accounts of what it’s like to have breast cancer, especially when feeling like a “survivor” doesn’t resonate.  There needed to be a place where we could show up and be our honest (sometimes ugly) selves without the pressure of being all the things we’re told to be (brave, warrior, princess, hero, fighter, survivor, etc.).

In this safe space, we focus on topics and truths rarely discussed and seldom shared publicly.  We share honest, sometimes unpleasant, stories and secrets held by patients and hidden from the world.  The darkness is desperate for light.

How do we shine light on the dark things?

  • Writing, reading and talking about our experiences.
  • Sharing other’s experiences.
  • Refusing to live in shame.
  • Showing what it’s really like.
  • Calling it what it is.
  • Not “packaging” stories.

Our Mission:

  • To share empowered stories with a feminist perspective.
  • To connect isolated individuals and groups.
  • To advocate and support meaningful change in the breast cancer community.

Contributing writers welcome!

Guidelines for contributing can be found here.

The Underbelly is…

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Melanie Childers

Founder, Web Development Director, Editor At Large

Melanie is a Martha Beck trained Life Coach, working to help breast cancer patients/survivors handle body and self-esteem issues. She is a yoga instructor, intuitive tarot reader and the creator of the Badass Survivors podcast (no longer active). She has been published at Cosmo.com, Esquire.com, and HarperBazaar.com, and works to assist clients in creating their new normal, accepting their new bodies, and handling crises through her site The Enlightened Badass.

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Melissa McAllister

Founder, Executive Editor, Creative Director

Melissa is committed to cultivating human connection through the power of words and images.  After her diagnosis in 2013 she launched Brave Girl Boxes to deliver courage to newly diagnosed people and later in 2015 she lent her talents to the groundbreaking activist group, MET UP.  You can find her sharing her message and connecting with the world at Bravery Grace and Badassery and her beautiful work can be found at The Brave Sparrow.

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Susan Rahn

Founder, Director of Advocacy, Editor At Large

Susan is a respected advocate in the breast cancer community and her work is prolific.  Diagnosed in 2013 metastatic de novo (from the start) at 43, she gives voice to the plight of young, dying mothers.  Whether protesting on the hill in D.C. or raising eyebrows with the truth on Twitter, CHANGE is what she wants to see. She is a vocal advocate for Compassion & Choices in New York State where she resides with her family.  You can find her at her award-winning blog, StickIt2Stage4, as she chronicles her illness.

April Doyle

April Grove Doyle

Editor in Chief, Social Media Content Director

April Doyle is a MBC patient with a big mouth and passion for writing. She has been living with stage IV metastasis to bones for the last two years and continues to work when not running after her five year old son. She has a BA in English Literature from CSU Fresno and she’s not afraid to use it. She currently resides in central California where she can be found with her nose in a book or in the vegetable garden. Sometimes simultaneously.  You can find her chronicling her own experiences and more at The C Life

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Tori Geib

Social Media, Outreach, Press

Tori was diagnosed in March of 2016 with De Novo Metastatic Breast Cancer at the age of 30. In conjunction with trying to live the best life she can in spite of MBC, she is dedicated to advocating for MBC research and working to educate individuals about the struggle of breast cancer in young adults. She currently lives in a small town in Central Ohio and is a proud Buckeye fan and musician. You can follow her personal cancer journey through her Team Tori Facebook Group.