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My sister, my friend, my savior wrote this for me

Story is on the link below since the wording is a bit longer, however the story is worth reading


Wellington, FL

Cancer the C word

In 2004 I had my yearly mammogram and was shocked to be told I had stage 0 cancer. I had a lumptectomy and 6 weeks radiation. For the next 9 years my mamos were normal and I felt so lucky that it was caught early. In September 2013 my luck ran out the cancer had returned. Since I had already had radiation I did not have a choice of treatment. On October 11, 2013 I had a mastectomy and have chosen to take oral meds instead of chemo. I am now 69 and don't plan to let cancer run my life. Cancer is an ugly word and needs to be removed from our vocabulary and our lives. God bless all of us fighting this monster.

Bert Patterson
Philadelphia, PA

The Incredible Journey

On February 19, 2013 my life changed. I had a mammogram and then an ultrasound. A few days later I received a phone call from a cancer surgeon. On March 1 the doctor did a biopsy on my right breast. On March 7 I received the news that no one wants to hear. I had cancer. The doctor talked with me about my options and since there were problems on the left breast in 2012 I decided to go with a double mastectomy. I wore expanders for about three months and then had reconstructive surgery. Since it had not spread to the lymph nodes I did not have any treatments but I will be taking a Arimidex and Effexor for five years maybe ten. I give all the praise to God. My message to all women is check yourself regularly.

Ellen Wilkes
Demorest, GA

Cancer - You are Not The Enemy

Dear Cancer,

If there is one thing I have learned, it is that ‘YOU are not the enemy.’

Cancer kills. That statement alone would lead anyone to believe that you are the devil in disguise or the terrorist that needs to be taken down. However we choose to view it, you are an invader and one thing is for certain – no one wants to be on the opposing side of you.

I am not one of those people that will say how grateful I am that you came into my life because I have a whole new positive perspective now that you have given me a brush with death. No, not me. I am not grateful, I am angry. I am grateful for my anger. The anger has given me the strength to fight you.

Since you walked into my life one year ago, I have driven to over 70 doctors appointments, have had 3 surgeries, have been poked dozens of times by numerous different medical professionals, have been physically and emotionally unwell, have been unable to attend my children’s social functions, have lost my breasts and my hair, and I have become an incredibly insecure person whom I do not recognize.

One year ago, a nurse told me that my positive attitude would get me through this. I cynically thought to myself – bullshit! It’s not my mind that has the problem, it’s my body. The surgery, the chemo, the radiation, and the drugs will get me through this! Well, they certainly helped but the truth is that she was right.

One year later, after graduating from all the treatments, I am still angry at you for this terrorist invasion, but I know my worst enemy is my own mind and that if I allow you to take my sanity, you will have won. I am here to say GAME OVER. You lost, I won.

With a sarcastic wink, I say ‘Good luck to you in the future’.

Shelly Straub, Breast Cancer Survivor

Shelly Straub
Cicero, NY

Faith, Family and Fun

I have always had a routine mammogram and on Oct. 21, 2013 I got the news I had lobular BC in my right breast. I had a PET scan done and found out I also had BC in my left breast. I chose to do the bilateral mastectomy because the thought of radiation coming from both sides was a horrid thought. I did not want to even imagine what the damage down the road would be. I got lucky and only one lymph node was involved. I ended up having 7 surgeries on this journey of mine. Many were for necrotic tissue on my left breast. The AC chemo caused me to have blood clots, the Taxol caused me to have an expander taken out and caused a yeast infection in my mouth which I call a tongue fungus. Throughout it all I had my faith, my family, and many friends. A fundraiser was done to alleviate the burden of the copays and meds. Hats were knit to keep my head warm. Many came to visit. Through it all I kept a positive attitude that life is worth laughing about and worth living. I did take time off from work because for once in my life I was going to take care of me. Being from a family of 11, having 4 kids, and all the loved from my nieces and nephews kept me going. I took every set back in stride. God with with me all the way and that made it so much easier. I am getting ready to return to work but I still have my reconstruction to do next year. Life is Good! God is great!

I survived: 3 hospital stays, 7 surgeries, 4 AC and 12 Taxol chemos, over 50 appointments (and more to come), 2 bouts with cellulitis, pulmonary embolisms, and a tongue fungus. All with a smile and a laugh. Cancer did not take me down.

Marjorie Markham
Hickory, NC

3rd Stage Ovarian Cancer

I was misdiagnosed and went to ER where it was determined that I had a 9 cm lump on my ovary and given a referral to a gynecological oncologist. Tests proved my CA was 2400++ and I had two rounds of chemotherapy with the usual - hair loss etc., - then surgery and radiation for the whole month of September 2005, and I have not looked back since then. Though I keep going to the Princess Margaret Hospital Foundation, in Toronto, for regular check ups.

I pray and as I suffer from depression too - it is not easy - but taking it one day at a time - am hanging in there. Have hope there is a greater purpose to life.

Shedoh Farooqi
mississauga, ON, Canada

Starting over!

October 2013 life was new and exciting. I had just tuned 57 and was newly divorced after 23 years of marriage. Bought a house and was settling in to my new independent life. 7 months later I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I had actually been on high alert since my 20's since my mom and maternal grandmother both had it. Thank goodness I have been diligent about getting my annual mammograms. I was only stage 1. I saw a local surgeon who suggested a lumpectomy and radiation, but I wanted a 2nd opinion. So I went out of town and saw a woman doctor who specializes in breast cancer. She gave me more options, including what my local doctor suggested. After a 3rd appointment with a plastic surgeon and much weighing of options, I opted for a double mastectomy with reconstruction. I think some of my friends and family thought this was a little extreme, but the decision is mine, and I was the only one who could make it, I just wanted to be done with it. I tested for the BRCA gene and was negative. This did not change my decision at all. My surgery was June 12th, and went smoothly. I'm now sporting tissue expanders to prepare for my reconstruction which will be in December. I'll be having a diep flap surgery which uses my own belly fat to reconstruct my breasts. Tummy tuck, perky girls, no radiation no chemo! NO CANCER! Win / Win! Yes this is not been a fun thing to go thru and sometimes I feel so lonely and a bit sorry for myself, but I really am so fortunate that this was caught early and I have great support of friends and family. Looking forward to next year, and perhaps dating?!!

Norton Shores, MI


I was diagnosed with breast cancer, estrogen + and HER2Nu +, for my birthday in February 2010. Here are some prescriptions that I received that I know can help anyone on his / her cancer journey:

1. FAITH - can't have enough of that. He will be with you and will carry you when you can't find the strength to stand on your own. Romans 15:13.

2. ATTITUDE / LIVE FOR TODAY - We never know when or how we will die, but we can choose how to live. Attitude is such a positive.

3. SLEEP - don't fight it. As we sleep, we are healing.


There once was a woman who woke up one morning, looked in the mirror, and noticed that she had only three hairs on her head. "Well, I think I'll braid my hair today." She did and had a wonderful day.

The next day, she saw that she had only two hairs and said, "I think I'll part my hair down the middle today." She did and had a grand day.

The next day, she noticed that she had only one hair and said, "I'm going to wear a pony tail today." She did and had a fun day.

The next day she didn't have a hair on her head. She said, "Yippeeee--I don't have to fix my hair today."

Then she put on her Sparkle Cap, went to town and wowed everyone!

5. PRAYER - Prayer is the key to the morning and the bolt on the door at night.

It is not an easy journey, and each one of has to find her way, but we are NOT alone. On my journey, I started The Sparkle Caps Project (on FB), so that God could use me to help other women coming behind me. We have helped over 900 women and 4 men in less than 4 years.

Susan "Victorious" Heimbigner
Sumter, SC

My God is Bigger than Cancer

At 34 years old and pregnant with my third child, I heard the words no woman wants to hear "you have breast cancer." Early in my third trimester, I found a lump in my breast and brought it to the attention of my OB doctor. Due to my history of benign cysts and being so late in my pregnancy, we decided to monitor it until after I had the baby. However at 36 weeks pregnant, I started having a bloody discharge from that breast. I had my 36 week check up on Monday, my OB doctor ordered for a breast ultrasound on Wednesday, then a breast biopsy on Thursday. On Friday we were called into the surgeon's office and was given the news that I had stage 2 Invasive Ductal Carcinoma, Three days later, we were blessed with a healthy baby boy. I wanted that next week to be about the joy of having this new blessing. However, we had to come to grips with my diagnosis and the plan of action to beat it. One of the hardest realizations for me was that I would only have about two weeks of breastfeeding before I had to start chemotherapy. The weeks leading up to my first chemo were the most emotional days of my life. I did have the pleasure of meeting an ovarian cancer survivor and Olympic gold medalist, Shannon Miller who really inspired me to be strong through this battle. Taking her advice, I decided to shave my head because that was one of the few things I could control during this journey. I had close friends and family come over and my sister shaved my head for me. I am now five weeks out from completing chemo and then I will be looking at a lumpectomy with follow up radiation. I have found peace during this journey through my almighty God. He has put people in my life to speak truth and encouragement, to bless us with acts of service and meals, and to be the hands and feet of Jesus here on Earth.

Kristin Pearson
Sumter, SC

Just Got Home From Iraq...

I am retired US Navy and two years before my official retirement, I was sent to Iraq. No problem, that is my job as a corpsman to my Marines and off I went. Two months after my return, I found a lump in my left breast and had it checked. To make a long story somewhat short, it was malignant, had spread to lymph nodes, and I had chemo and radiation. Ok, again, I did my job and survived for the sake of my little children (My youngest was 2 years old at the time) . My BRCA test came back with an anomaly and my mom was tested too and she had the same anomaly. It seems this little gene does not distinguish between breast and ovarian cancer; my maternal grandmother died some years back from ovarian cancer and my mother had a TAH and ovarian removal over 30 years back. Coincidence? Maybe it was meant to express in my mom's ovaries but they were gone. She has no signs/symptoms of any breast cancer and she is now 74 years old.

I opted for a bilateral mastectomy with concurrent reconstruction from my abdomen and later a total hysterectomy with ovaries removed. My dilemma is how to I prepare my daughter, who is now 10 years old, to make the decision of a lifetime-to be tested for the BRCA anomaly or not. I have six healthy, robust sons from two marriages who are proud of me and my decisions I have made. To add to all of this, I have a profound case of PTSD from my sojourn to Iraq-it is rough for a mom to send boys home KIA that were the same age as my elder sons. But I am a survivor; I retired with 26 years of honorable service to my country, relocated to be closer to my mom and get away from the reminders of Iraq, and I still wake up every morning wondering what the day will bring. I live for my children and 3 grandsons and every day is a struggle, emotionally.

Janet Cooper
Celestine, IN
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