The first step in Clea Shearer’s battle against breast cancer was simply finding out that she had it.
But even that was far from simple.
The organizing pro and star of Netflix’s “Get Organized With the Home Edit” knew something was wrong when she discovered a lump in February, but after revealing that to her OB-GYN, she still faced lengthy delays in getting an appointment. Her decision not to wait and to instead reach out to her general practitioner and request a mammogram right away is the reason she promptly found out she had stage 2 cancer and two “aggressive and fast moving” tumors, as she wrote in Instagram in April.
It’s a decision Shearer now credits with saving her life.
“When I felt that lump, I just was like, I can’t put this off just because life is too good,” the 40-year-old stressed in an interview with TODAY’s Savannah Guthrie aired Thursday.
As Shearer and her Home Edit co-founder, Joanna Teplin, awaited the second season of their television series and a magazine launch, the mother of two prioritized her health by getting answers.
“I’d be in a really different place right now if I’d postponed what I knew was something,” Shearer revealed. “I didn’t know it was going to be cancer, but I felt something. If I hadn’t done that, I have no idea what stage my cancer would be in."
"I think that one thing that I have realized about breast cancer is it really attacks your femininity in such ways that we don’t even know that we’re attached to," she said. "But, you know, there are other things that are really beautiful about it, too. All my scars feel like strength. They feel like battle wounds."
It's a strength she never knew she had within her.
"I definitely thought I was more of a delicate flower than I am," she explained. "But, you know, I think that it’s been a real learning (experience) for me. I surprised myself with the things that I’m able to do."
And she's been surprised by the response she's received since sharing her journey — and not just by the tremendous support.
"I didn’t really anticipate the rolling impact that it would continue to have," Shearer said. "The piece that I find the most incredible, though, isn’t just the outpouring of love, but it’s the outpouring of stories, the huge amount of people who have now, unfortunately, found cancer in their own body and wouldn’t have, if I hadn’t rang the bell about it."
Now she wants to keep that bell ringing and help more people save their own lives by launching The Clea Shearer Breast Cancer Research Fund.
“Our goals are really raising awareness for self-advocacy and making sure that screenings are available to women everywhere,” she said of the endeavor. “And, ultimately, the way to cure cancer is through research. Hopefully this fund helps propel that research forward.”
Because helping others helps Shearer find purpose in this challenging path.
“I’m not going to get to the other side of cancer and be like, ‘Well, I did it,’” she added. “This is going to be a piece of my life forever, and I think that just making my cancer count is what brings me the most joy.”