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I choose freedom

After having a double mastectomy in June of 2014 (at the age of 37), I was pretty certain how my story was going to go. I'd have chemo, have reconstructive surgery, get a new perky bosom, and go on with life...but that's not exactly how it went. It could have went that way, it still could, if I choose it. But instead, as I traverse the rocky road of chemo and recovery from all it has done to my body, I came to a startling conclusion...though I struggle with pain, exhaustion, and fatigue, I feel more free than I ever have in my life. What was once important, isn't so important anymore. I have an opportunity to be something that many women can't embrace. A complete love for the body that I have, scars and all. So I have decided NOT to have reconstruction. Breasts do not, and will not, define me as a woman. I have a testimony to share, one that can be inspirational for others who have to travel a similar path. The impact this will have on my 3 little girls, the ability to show them that life isn't about how you look or fitting into society norms. God has given me the amazing grace to walk this out and be ok with being me, the me that I am now, not the me that others think I should be. It is liberating. I feel very blessed to have reached such a pivotal point in my life. I'm not grateful that I had breast cancer. But I am grateful that I can embrace the changes that have occurred and be ok with who I am today, and not something different than I am. I will get a tattoo to cover my scars, but it will be one designed with much thought and insight to commemorate the growth that has occurred because of this tragedy. Life is what you make it. I choose freedom, joy, and the love of my God, who has seen me through so many tribulations. May all who struggle, find it as well.

Shana Carnes
STATESBORO, GA

Twice Sisters (from laurasjourneyofhope blog)

My sister and I are ‘twice sisters’ meaning we are blood sisters (born sisters) and pink sisters.

Both of us have been personally affected by breast cancer which makes us pink sisters. In

September/October of 2014, my sister called me to tell me that her mammogram was flagged and

the radiologist really wanted to do a biopsy because she saw a cluster of cells.

Cheryll had a real peace about the whole process. It seemed like a lifetime had passed from the

first call about the biopsy to the results call. In the meantime, I prayed and prayed and prayed!!

She had just started a new job and I prayed to God that she would be okay and not have to join

the Breast Cancer Survivor group. I have traveled that road. I was diagnosed the day after

Christmas in 2008 with Stage 3a, Grade 3, Invasive Ductal Carcinoma. I prayed that she would

not have to go down that road and that she would never have to endure chemotherapy and

radiation. I prayed for a clear report.

When she received the biopsy report, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. I was devastated. I

thought I took the bullet for the family. I cried. I cried for her. Then I prayed…okay God, if she

has to have this diagnosis, I pray they caught it early.

Thankfully, they caught it early at Stage 0. She would need a lumpectomy and radiation. The

doctor was amazed and told her that it was unbelievable that it was only Stage 0. Regardless of

what stage the breast cancer is a 0, 1, 2, 3, or 4, a diagnosis brings so much more with it. Not only

does it take a toll on you physically but it takes a toll on you emotionally and psychologically.

I am glad to report that Cheryll is cancer free. I have invited her to guest blog. I hope she is able

to share her story soon. I am blessed to have her as my sister and now we are twice sisters.

Be Blessed.

Laura Starner
Lakeland, FL

God's New Plan For Me: Giving Hope

I was a successful hairstylist for many years until March, 2013. I am familiar with back pain, but one particular day the pain was excruciating, so I went to the hospital hoping to find some relief. The medical staff ordered an MRI and returned with the news I have stage 4 breast cancer that metastasized in my bones and given only 2 months to live. Seeking treatment elsewhere, I found hope from an oncologist at the University of Colorado. There I endured almost a year of chemotherapy, once a week, 3 biopsies, and 3 rounds of radiation. I'm blessed to say 2 years later, I'm continuing to win the battle over cancer. I stay very active with various national and local cancer associations, go to the gym 5 days a week, and recently opened a new business, Wigs and Beyond. Due to all the treatments I've received and am still receiving, I have a full understanding of the effects of chemotherapy, hair loss, side effects. Besides finding the right headwear to boost a woman's confidence, I can offer encouragement, inspiration, and even hope. Also, if a woman is unable to leave her home or is not quite ready to go out, I offer in home services. We are locsted within a women's boutique along with a full time esthetician, providing a fun and caring atmosphere. Throughout the year we host Indulgence Nights, Fundraisers, and Special Events to help support our community and individuals.

My goal isvto help women feel better about themselves and hopefully develop new friendships.

I'm particularly thankful for your funding of mammograms and cancer research. I for one, am dependent on new treatments.

Blessings to you all, Kathy Pride

Kathy Pride
Littleton, CO

Still My Guardian Angel

The picture as taken ten years ago, but he is a huge part of the story and he hated his picture taken.

I lost my father September 14, 2014 to small cell cancer. Obviously this hit hard. I was, and always will be Daddy's Little Girl. It is usually mid-September that I get my annual mammogram. I didn't; I decided I wasn't going this year, I'd never had a problem before and I just couldn't deal with more on my plate. I'm a professor and was starting at a new school right when Dad got sick. I didn't have time to get tests run. However, in November something was nagging me to go. It was Dad's voice in the back of my head telling me that I had too long of a history of chest x-rays not to have a simple test run, just to be sure. So, I went.

I got the call that the doctor wanted to do a biopsy on one area and watch another area. When I went in for the biopsy, I asked that they do both areas, the doctor doing the biopsy agreed. On the Saturday before Christmas, I got the call...cancer. I'm not sure who took it harder, me or my mom.

Follow-up appointments found it to be Stage 0 DCIS. The cysts were so small they probably wouldn't have been detectable in September. Once again Dad was watching over me.

Because I am a heart patient, many cardiac tests were required before they could start any treatments. Finally, in February, I was scheduled for the partial mastectomy. The first week of March my doctor inserted a port for the Mammosite, or targeted radiation, treatment. As I mentioned, I am a professor, it was the WORST Spring Break ever with 2 radiation treatments a day for 5 days. But we received word that the margins came back clear and I think I'm out of the woods. Because of my heart condition, I cannot take the medication even though I was a candidate. But, I know my guardian angel is still watching over me.

Kristin
Baden, PA

The Journey So Far

At 28 years old, wife and mother of a 3 year old girl, the last thing I expected the lump under my arm to be was cancer. I went to see a doctor and the initial diagnosis was excess breast tissue. After a month of pain, and the lump getting bigger I decided to get a second opinion. I was immediately sent for a sonar. This lead to an appointment with the surgeon a few hours later. A biopsy was done and unfortunately the results came back as positive for cancer.

This lead to a series of tests - including mammograms, CT scan, MRI, PET CT scan, more sonars and another biopsy of the breast. Eventually Stage 3 Triple Negative Breast Cancer was diagnosed. A week later I was scheduled for a mastectomy of my right breast. Three weeks later I started with my 12 sessions of chemotherapy. Four sessions of AC and 8 Taxil. I finished chemo on the 12th of February 2015. Four weeks later I started my first session of Radiation. On the 7th of May, and 33 session complete, I was finally done with all my treatment.

This has been a scary journey, and as tough as losing my breast and my hair has been, I know I am stronger for it. I have had an amazing support team who have been there for me the entire way. My husband is my best supporter and has been my shoulder to lean on all the way.

I know that there is still a long journey ahead before I get the all-clear, but for now I am just grateful to be where I am.

Melissa Willemse
Centurion, South Africa

I belive in prayers and miracle! !

My jurney being before Christmas day on Monday 24 2014 .

I had apoitment with doctor, because I feel something in my left breast and I see some changes to. Then mammogram, ultrasound and biopsy on Christmas day.God diagnosed in same day with cancer.

I did not ask God why, because i knew there is always a reason, i start crying and I was thinking how to say this to my family.

I pray and got home already with smile on a face. God help me in this situation.

I told my daughter & son I told them I may have cancer , and they said don't worry mom you strong, we will be with you. God will help us to go through this.

We had great celebration on Saturday it was our Family Christmas day !! We pray, laugh,open presents no one really knew what is going un with me, and I did not want to any one to know.

We had great time!!

My all family sister and 3 brothers always very supportive. And my husband is very helpful.

During one month I had 2 surgery on my left breast and they clear my mergers, so that means I had no cancer but they did test in my lump and there was spread to my lymph But have to go through chemo and all treatments .

First chemo was 2/26/15 and last chemo will be in 6/4/15

Had been going to soccer with my baby Max he is 9 and swim lessons for Kostya he is 13.

I love my kids they hugs me and kiss me i really going to be strong just for them. I love all my family and friends for their support, love,prayers, trail food ,visit flowers and there time.God bless them all.

And I belive in prayers and God miracles I want to tell everyone who is going through hard times our God do miracles we just need believe in him .With God all things is possible! !! Just be strong

Nadia
portland, OR

Beating Breast Cancer

2010 my Sister was Diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma & Oct2012 she lost her battle leaving behind her 3 young boys. Never once did I think 2 years later I would have a battle of my own. Aug. 2014 when applying body lotion on my left breast I felt a lump, called my Nurse Practitioner, she too could feel the lump which appeared like a cyst & due to me being low risk & my age.

My Husband & I enjoyed our 20 year anniversary. During this time my gut was telling me different, I felt obsessed with this lump.

Went back to the NP mid Sept, She then sent a Urgent Requisition for a screening.Had the screening,2 biopsy's,bone scan,CT Scan & PET Scan.

It felt like a whirl wind of appointments, barely time to think.

Mid Oct. with my Husband by my side we met with the NP to go over the pathology reports, as suspected the worst news you want to hear, Breast cancer, Invasive Ductal Carcinoma, Grade 3, ER+ PR & HER2 -, Shed a few tears with the initial shock, flashed memory's of my Sister & wondered how do I tell the Family.

Surgery booked for November 26, I knew I was going to do everything I could, I had so much left to live for. Left breast removed, all 22 lymph nodes, the lump was 6.5cm & one tumor forming lymph node, 7 other nodes had cancerous cells.The margins were clear & hadn't spread, thankfully.

8 chemo, 4 A/C,4 taxol, last on May 19, 28 treatments of radiation June 22th-July 30th.

My Son & Nephew both graduate high school,& radiation in June,a busy beginning to my Summer,end July we can start the completion of breast reconstruction.

My Journey has changed my life,I look forward to enjoying each & every day, I can bring awareness to my Daughter that she can pass onto our 2 Granddaughters.

I won the lottery finding this breast cancer, I am alive.Thank you to all you Wonderful People for you stories, they've all been so inspirational,& thank you for hearing my Journey.

Mary
Logan Lake, BC, Canada

BREAST BIOPSY

I HAD A BREAST BIOPSY LAST TUESDAY...I HAD MICROCALLIFICATIONS ON MY RIGHT BREAST WITH ABOUT 10 STITCHES...I WON;'T KNOW THE RESULTS UNTIL NEXT WEDNESDAY...I PRAY THAT I WON'T HAVE CANCER...GAIL ATWOOD

Gail Atwood
Vicksburg, MS

The blessing in disguise

I never imagined Jan 2014, at 34 I'd be diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer. April 2015 My scan came back clear of cancer.

10 days ago, I heard a similar diagnosis again, only this time it was in regards to Mama... It felt as if my heart stopped beating for mins when the surgeon was speaking. Then my heart was racing as if it was about to beat out my chest, I felt sick! How could this be? How can mama be diagnosed after God had just given us my victory a few weeks ago? I didn't think I could handle this, my heart was broken and my faith was weakened. But, the amazing thing is, while I was in a panic about Mama... She was standing on her FAITH that moved mountains. She was in front of me, courageous and more beautiful than ever. Mama's FAITH in God defeated the enemy and God had battled on her behalf. It was refreshing to hear mama speak on faith and what God had already done. After-all, it was in his plan that she wasn't feeling good earlier that day. God sent her to her doctor that morning, and the surgeon scheduled her for surgery that night, unaware that they would find a cancerous tumor while performing the initial surgery. Do you see God's blessing??? God knew they needed to remove cancer. God was already working it out, he had taken her cancer away before she knew she had it! I began to feel God's supernatural power, God had not given mama the spirit of fear... He gave her a sound mind. I have no idea how long Mother Dear was battling cancer(unknowingly)but, I know that this was a blessing in disguise. Mama was standing on faith and driving up and down the highway Chicago to Minnesota to help me through breast cancer treatment, Not knowing she had cancer in her body. Do you see the blessing?? As I sit here thinking, I'm in awe of this miracle of peace and healing. Isn't God amazing?!? My Mama is my HERO!! :)

Desha Delayne Martin
Lakeville, MN

My Journey - Living Life to its Fullest

When I was 39 I was diagnosed with Ductal Carcinoma In Situ. I had a lumpectomy with clean margins, 6 weeks of radiation and took Tamoxifen for 5 years. I was then declared “Cured”. 5 years ago I also started having pain in my knee. This was diagnosed as a herniated disc in my back. When that did not get better I was sent for an MRI. The MRI showed cancer growing on my vertebrae. This was confirmed in a biopsy. A CT scan and bronchoscopy showed cancer in my lung. I was initially diagnosed with Stage 4 long cancer. Another bronchoscopy, genetic testing and another biopsy later confirmed that it was not ling cancer but that my Stage 0 breast cancer had spread and was now Stage 4. I had my ovaries removed and started taking Arimadex. My cancer retreated. I made a commitment to be as healthy as I could be. I started eating clean. I started working out, running 5 Ks and running sprint triathlons. I lost over 60 pounds. Life was good. At the end of last year I had some questionable scan results. All follow up testing was negative so we decided to schedule new scans in 3 months instead of 6 months. In the meantime I developed an intermittent squeezing pain in the back of my head. I was told I do not have the type of breast cancer that normally spreads to the brain and all tests were negative. I persisted in getting to the bottom of the head pain and finally had an MRI that showed a 3 cm tumor at the back of my brain. 5 weeks ago I had emergency surgery to have the tumor removed. They were able to get it all. I came out of the surgery with no deficits. I have had stereotactic radiosurgery to eliminate any microscopic cells. I am leading full life and just waiting for the green light so I can start training for a 15K race in June and a sprit triathlon in August

Shari Viner
Deerfield, IL
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