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42 & HER2+

I had my first mammogram at age 40. I had no family history of cancer but I did what my Dr. Told me to do. On my 3rd mammogram at age 42 they thought they saw something. They did an ultra sound and determined it "probably wasn't cancer and I had dense breasts." I was asked to come back in 6 months. In 6 months what probably wasn't cancer was now 3.4cm. I didn't even know it was there. Yet there it could easily feel it...if you were looking. But I wasn't bcs " it probably wasn't cancer" and I had no history. The day they found it I almost left and rescheduled bcs the Dr. was backed up and I was busy at work. I would be dead had I done that. I was diagnosed with Stage 2A invasive ductal carcinoma HER2+. I was told it was aggressive and I needed chemo and a mastectomy right away. The first Dr. I went to made me feel like I would die. Then I went to Duke. They gave me hope and told me I was a survivor. I just finished 6 chemos, had reconstructive surgery and will continue with Herceptin until April 2015. I will survive and thrive! My attitude is cancer only takes what you let it take. I have gained much more than I have lost. I'm stronger than I ever knew I could be. I proudly wear my bald head everywhere I go. If just one person looks at me and gets a mammogram it's enough. My fellow survivors ...they are looking TO us not at us. Give them the message...cancer doesn't care who you are. Fight on!

Kelly Bergenstock
Kill Devil Hills, NC

The Diary of A 22 Year Old

In February of 2015, I was diagnosed with stage IV metastatic breast cancer. I had just turned 22 years old. Attending college, working, and engaged to my high school sweetheart. The cancer spread to my lymph nodes, chest bones, and hip bone.

Losing my hair was one of the hardest things for me. Just like any other young woman, my hair has become my identity. I hid behind my hair. How my hair was that day, was how I felt that day. I felt like I completely lost myself when I lost my hair.

I had to learn that I am not my hair.. I am not all my scars.. I am beautiful, with or without these things!

June 10th was my last session. My hair began growing. I went back to college and work. I felt my life pulling back together.

September 8th I had a lumpectomy and several lymph nodes removed. A week after the surgery, I was told that the cancer was not gone, and that I had to go back onto chemotherapy. I felt like all that I worked so hard for, was gone..

October 1st will be my first day back on chemotherapy. Go figure, for breast cancer awareness month! I've come to realize struggles make us stronger. I have to stick through the fight. When life knocks me down, I have to get back up and fight back. I may have cancer, but cancer doesn't have me.

Elizabeth Buck
Plano, IL

My Mum's Battle

I would just like to show you how far my mum has come in 2 years! She was diagnosed with stage 3 invasive ductal carcinoma in 2013. She underwent months of grueling chemotherapy, a lumpectomy, lymph node removal, a double mastectomy and recently a breast reconstruction.

She has done us all so proud at how she has dealt with her battle and she remained so positive throughout. Thankfully, she kicked cancers bum and she looks absolutely fantastic. She gives hope for other people suffering this horrible disease that we can beat it!

Not only is she the bravest, most amazing woman ever but she's also pretty talented too! She wrote a poem that I would like to share about chemotherapy which I'm sure lots of people can relate to...

Well done Mum, you really are one in a million.....

My Chemo Friend

Protected from light

A bag, plastic and red

Hanging there menacingly

Above my head

A cannula gently

Introduced in my vein

Overwhelming anticipation

But I was in no pain

The clock was set

I started my fight

With a determined heart

With all my might

I watched the first drops

I dreaded what would come

Your reputation

Was fearsome

You made me sick

You took my hair

You sapped my strength

Till I was barely there

My brain was fogged

Confused and slow

Incapable of thought

Of why or how

I struggled with all

You did to me

It was a long, hard road

To be cancer-free

It was worth it though

I got there in the end

Thanks for everything

My chemo friend

Written by Elaine Tracey

steph arrand
Doncaster, United Kingdom

Chemo Day One

First Chemo done and dusted (11th Sept '15)...I'm doing ok so far.....Found the lump in my right breast 05-05-15..Got told it was Cancer 16th June.. Grade 2 60mm invasive ductal & lobular...Oestrogen & Progesterone positive and HER2 negative...Had a lumpectomy 29th June but didn't get clear margins and 2 nodes involved..So on 3rd August had right mastectomy and full clearance of nodes ..all clear....So now I have 6 months of chemo and 5 weeks of radiation ahead of me...I'm staying positive.. :)

Sandy Matthews
Maryborough, Australia

In Loving Memory of Betty Lynn Malone

In Sept of 2000, my sister, Betty Lynn Malone went to the ER on three different occasions each time complaining about shoulder pain. Each time no tests were run and she was released with the dr saying that she had pulled a muscle due to playing softball. On the fourth visit to the ER my mother went with, this time demanding that they admit her. They did and one week later she was diagnosed with breast cancer. I remember that day so vividly because I was the one crying not her. She said to me, "don't cry I am going to be ok. I am going to fight it." One week later on September 16, 2000 she passed away. She was only 40 years old , a mother of two young boys. I just want all women to know if you have any kind of pain please get it checked out asap. And for those who are fighting this ugly disease I am praying for you. Today my Sister has been gone 15 years. She was our heart and soul and she continues to be. I love you Lindy...

kelly paulsen
Niles, IL

Nothing to worry about...

I was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer in April of this year, after being told by both my gyno and primary doctor that the lump I felt was nothing to worry about, "just hormonal changes probably". Thankfully God was taking care of me and I pushed for a mammogram. As shocking it was to hear the words, "you have invasive ductal carcinoma", it was even scarier to think it could have gone untreated for who knows how long. A great reminder that we must take control of our own health and not leave it in the hands of someone else, doctors are human too and they make mistakes.

On September 9, 2015 I finished my last round of chemo with my amazing hubby and sweet babies by my side!! I have a bilateral mastectomy in the next month and 6 weeks of radiation ahead of me, but with a support system that has been beyond wonderful and my heavenly father in control, I will keep fighting and eventually show this stupid cancer not to mess with me anymore! I may have cancer, but it doesn't have me!!

Carli Stockton
Woodstock, GA

Surviving is what I do

In July 2007 at the age of 38 I was diagnosed with estrogen positive breast cancer-unbeknownst to me the cancer had spread to the lymph nodes as well. I had a lumpectomy the following month in August 2007 after diagnosis and was back in surgery the next month of September for cancerous lymph node removal. This was followed by several rounds of chemo and radiation and a roller coaster of emotions.

Moving forward 2014 seven years after my diagnosis and nearly two years off my hormone replacement meds a routine mammogram detected a spot that was eventually confirmed to be a reoccurrence of the same cancer. I opted to have a double mastectomy with breast reconstruction. I am blessed that I have had such a wonderful support system. Maintaining a positive attitude is the primary key to overcoming a cancer diagnosis. This is the advice that I pass on to anyone that's faced with this dreaded diagnosis-cry, cuss, scream, do what you must; but get it out and get over it. It's ok to have your moments-you are human. You have the power over this so wipe those tears, get up, get dressed put on your scarf, wig, hat or just go bare-headed but get up and live your life. My continued prayer is that cancer will soon be a thing of the past. Praying for a cure!!!!

Felicia Wilkes
Raliegh, NC

I will stay positive.

I was diagnosed with stage one breast cancer in March 5, 2015, and I underwent surgery to remove the 1cm cancer in March 31.

I found out after my surgery through the pathology tests that I had triple positive HER2.

I’ve just completed my four rounds of chemotherapy in August 4.

Now onto 18 sessions of targeted therapy Herceptin, 5 weeks of radiation therapy, then hormonal therapy for 5-10 years.

All of this for a 1cm cancer that’s supposed to be gone..

My daughter is currently in the US for college, and although I'm truly sad that she only gets to visit me here and there throughout the year, I know I will get through this. My daughter tells me to fight on, so that's what I'm doing! Fighting on like a Trojan!

Looking forward to when I can visit her in the sunny California again like I did last year.

I have cancer, but cancer doesn’t have me. I’m a patient now but I’ll soon be a survivor in the near future.

I will stay strong!

Tokyo, Japan

"Surrounded by Love"

My story begins like many others. In late December 2012, after receiving abnormal results on two mammograms and ultrasound, my husband and I decided to get a second opinion at MDAnderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas. We made the six hour drive and after more mammagrams, ultrasound, and needle core biopsy, on January 14, 2013, my 50th birthday, I received the phone call that changed my life and that of my family's. I had stage 1 invasive ductal carcinoma. It was a very scary time and the beginning of a difficult journey. "Why me?", was a question I never asked myself. I felt that if I asked that question, then I would have to ask, "Why not me?". I accepted my diagnosis and with a positive attitude, fought it head on. After a partial mastectomy, removal of lymph nodes, and 20 rounds of radiation, I have now been cancer free for 2 1/2 years. I will continue to have regular checkups and will have to take a hormone blocker for the next five years.

The journey has not been an easy one but, it has turned out to be an extraordinary one filled with many blessings that far outweighed the bad. It was made easier due to my wonderful support system and the numerous prayer chains that were started for me. I know that the overwhelming sense of peace and tranquility that I felt throughout this difficult, yet amazing journey, was the result of all the prayers and Gods presence in my life. My husband, Richard, has been my rock and the person whose faith never waivers. As my niece once said to me, "you are surrounded by love".

The most important thing about sharing my story is to stress the importance of annual checkups. There was no breast cancer history in my family, however, my commitment to getting my annual mammograms saved my life. I strongly urge all women to make a commitment to get their annual mammograms and to encourage others to do the same. May God bless each and everyone of you always.

Rosalinda Mendez
Mission, TX

Proud of my mother!

My mother is a breast cancer survivor. She was diagnosed in early 1999 and was then when she became my hero.

She took the news very well and the only she was asking was: ‘OK, what we can do, because I will fight back’!!

She is an inspiration to our family and friends and every day tries to help other to cope with the news.

Irini Kalodimou
Nafplio-Argolida, Greece
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