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Showing our Support

Our mother was diagnosed with stage 1 breast cancer 8 years ago which, may I add, she is doing absolutely FANTASTIC!! To show our support for her, my sister and I decided to surprise her with this tattoo to show how much she truly means to us. We decided to make it even more personal of a tattoo by putting the word “Mom", located inside the ribbon, in her own handwriting! These past 8 years have been a lot of ups and downs but our strong faith in the Lord and each other always finds a way to conquer those low times! I thank God and cherish every day we are able to spend another day as a family, I love you more than words can express mom!

Heidi Johnson
Kewaskum, WI

Breast Cancer Survivor

I felt a lump in 2010 but when it didn't want to go away, I went to my gynecologist in January 2011 and sent me for surgery. I was 37 then. Feb and March I had 2 operations because it was stage 1 breast cancer in grade 3 already. After operations I went through 6 chemo therapy and just after that 6 weeks of radiation. No breasts removed, only cut out. I was also told I'm not allowed to fall pregnant because I got hormonal cancer for which I have to take Tamoxifen everyday. Just 6 weeks ago I went for a full hysterectomy. I thank God for all the support from friends and family, and giving me a lovely understanding husband who I married to 4 Oct 2014. Not one of us got any kids but we grateful I'm still very much alive!!!

Chantal du Toit
Cape Town, South Africa

Breast cancer at 32

I was 32 when I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2008. My daughter was 3 years old. The dr's couldn't believe it cause I was so young. I always tell people it's the best thing that happened to me because I change my outlook on life. I changed my priorities and I'm a much happier person. It's been 7 years and I'm healthy and more importantly I'm alive. I'm not allowed to have any more children but I have a chance to see my beautiful daughter grow up

Carina Coetzee
Johannesburg, South Africa

Car accident saved me

I was 39 when I had a car accident in August 2013. A driver went into me and I had whiplash and seatbelt bruising on my breast. A month later I went to the doctor as I discovered a lump deep in my breast. She suspected it was a blood clot or damaged breast tissue but referred me to have a mammo. The specialist suspected the same and I had to wait another week for a mammo. When I had the mammo I was called next door for ultrasound and then a biopsy still thinking it's all because of the accident. A week later I had to go back for results with devastating news. An Invasive ductal carcinoma grade 2 hormone positive 5-7cm. Lymph glands positive. The breast specialist offered me 5 months chemo first to reduce size of lump and lumpectomy which failed to remove margin, so then I was told I had to have a mastectomy. I opted to have both removed with immediate reconstruction followed by 3 weeks radiotherapy and 10 years tamoxifen.

My babies kept me going through my tough treatment and now Ive been given the clear. I'm thankful to my husband friends and family who supported me and the stories from others that gave me support and hope.

Cheryl
Torquay, United Kingdom

Believe

July 2012 diagnosed with ILC, Stage 3. Followed with surgery, chemotherapy and radiation and more surgery. I am happy to now be 32 months CANCER FREE!!! Stay prayerful, stay positive, believe and remember to BREATHE.. I survived and became a stronger woman than I thought possible. LIFE IS GOOD, SO ENJOY IT TO THE FULLEST!!

Michele Litteken
Oakville, MO

My diagnosis also led to my younger sister being diagnosed.

I went in for my yearly OB-GYN appointment in June 2014. I was 36 at the time. She had told me to get a baseline mammogram done last year at my visit, but life got in the way, and I just didn't do it. This time I promised her I would do it. My mammogram was in July. I was called back a few days later saying they wanted me to come in for additional pictures. I was not afraid, because I had been told years before I had dense breast tissue, and they mentioned it was more than likely just that. When I had the diagnostic mammogram taken, they immediately scheduled me for a biopsy of my left side. I was supposed to get a call with the results of the biopsy. The night of August 26th I realized they hadn't called, but I wasn't worried. However, the next morning, the morning of my oldest son's 14th birthday, my OB-GYN herself called me. As soon as I heard her voice, I knew I was in trouble. She said I was DCIS stage 0...essentially catching it extremely early. After my BRCA2 test came back inconclusive however, I was adamant about getting a double mastectomy, I just didn't want to go through this again later in life, and felt in my heart this was the best way. During the mastectomy they would also do the lymph node biopsy. That is when they found that the cancer had spread, and I was actually Stage 2 with a very aggressive strain. My little sister was then tested at age 34, and also diagnosed with DCIS stage 0. She also had a double, and thankfully no other cancer was found. I am going through chemo and then radiation now, and am very confident I will be cancer free when all of this is done. I am also blessed that my sister was diagnosed, because she would never had gone at age 34 for a mammogram had I not been diagnosed, so I am thankful for my diagnosis, because it helped my sister too.

Brooke Dalton
Maumee, OH

my breast cancer story

I was 26 years old when I found out that I had the brca1 gene. I remember being devastated as if someone had just told me I had cancer. My breast surgeon and oncologist tried to convince me to have a double mastectomy to reduce my chances of getting cancer but I was very hopeful that I would be that small percentage to never get cancer. December 25, 2014 I started getting a lot of pain in my left breast. It was so bad I had to take a pain pill. I started to worry but people told me to relax cause cancer isn't painful so it's probably something else causing the pain. I had a mammogram February 2015 which showed I had no cancer. I felt so much relief considering I was worried about the pain I had felt. I met with my oncologist a week later for a routine check up and her intern examined me first, I could tell by her reaction she felt something. My oncologist told me I have dense breast and sometimes my tissue will feel harder. Since she could see I was still nervous she sent me for a breast sonogram. The sonongram did show something, where the mammogram did not. I wound up needing a biopsy. The very next day after my biopsy I was told to come in. I knew walking into the office it wasn't going to be good news. Sure enough at the age of 28 I was diagnosed with invasive ductal cancer and triple negative cancer. There are no words to describe exactly how getting news like that feels. I was in denial, I made jokes, I cried. I didn't know how to react or believe this was happening to me. Since I got my results I have started the egg rescuing process to save my eggs before my double mastectomy and chemo. I just thank god that I was lucky enough to catch my cancer so early. And that I didn't just accept the mammo results, I followed my gut, because I knew something was wrong.

Anonymous
staten island, NY

I am a Survivor

It was April 2002, on holiday with my common-law husband of 20 years. I rolled over in bed one night and got a pain in my right breast very close to my arm pit. I reached over and felt a lump that seemed awful large considering I hadn't felt it before. We arrived home 4 days later and I called my doctor. I had had my first mammogram in December 2001 and another in January including an ultra-sound as I had a couple of moles on the right breast. I figured if the lump was serious it should have shown up then but it hadn't. My doctor sent me immediately for a biopsy and told me because it was painful it probably wasn't cancer. 3 days later, I was told it was cancer and that he operated regularly with the best breast surgeon in the city and maybe the country and he would speak to him for me. 3 weeks later I had the surgery. Everything seemed to be moving very fast. While recovering from the lumpectomy, which my surgeon said was all that was necessary, I went through multiple tests to ensure that none of the cancer was anywhere else. Luckily I was clean but my surgeon insisted I go through chemo and radiation. I call 2002 the year from hell. In August I started chemo and worked between treatments. Many of my co-workers and company owners told me how strong they thought I was and this made me feel stronger. It is now the spring of 2015. The cancer has never returned. My common-law husband wasn't as lucky and I lost him to cancer in 2005 but life goes on. God took care of me and must have a plan for me yet. I thank him every day that I get to watch my granddaughter become a woman and my grandson be born and is growing into a very happy 4 year old. I am 60 years old and enjoying the life I have. Always have hope, even when you are sick and exhausted from the treatments.

Anonymous
Stittsville, ON, Canada

MyJourney

August of 2012 was going very badly and I couldn't wait till it was over, September had to be better.

Early in August I surgery on my spinal cord. Two weeks later I was back in the hospital, having to lie flat on my back, due to a cerebral spinal fluid leak. After a week, I was released and I couldn't wait to get home and take a shower!

The first shower was heavenly until I felt a lump in my right breast. This couldn't really be anything, I reasoned, except an inflammed cyst. I decided to monitor it, I just knew it would disappear.

By the end of October, I had to face the fact that the lump was still there. It was time to get it checked, no more denial!

Dr. appointment, ultrasound, biopsy, diagnosis: CANCER! Deep down I already knew but hearing the words brought the abstract into reality.

Surgery had to wait, the cancer was extremely aggressive and there were two lumps, not just one, to contend with. Chemotherapy was started in January of 2013 followed by a double mastectomy and reconstruction.

I realize how foolish I was to have waited and how lucky I am that my outcome was a positive one, because I have a strong family history of breast cancer.

Early detection and treatment is the only way to go!

Marilyn Wittenburg
Worthington, OH

There is Always Hope

I’m sure I’ve read a thousand breast cancer stories by now. Each one sheds new light on some part of the journey giving us, as breast cancer survivors, something to hope for. Hope is the best medicine of all, I’ve found.

On June 17, 2008, I was diagnosed with stage 1, ductal carcinoma, triple-negative breast cancer. I was only 42 years old. I had just gone through the worst possible event in a mother’s life when I lost my infant son to leukemia. How could this be happening? The hardest part for me was finding the words to tell my children that their mother had cancer. I could see the fear fill their eyes. They certainly knew the probabilities. They had already seen it first hand with their brother.

I opted for a bi-lateral mastectomy and an aggressive chemotherapy regimen. Those six months of treatment were taxing. I can’t say it was the hardest thing I’ve ever done nor was it as bad as I had expected.

At this point, I am over six years post diagnosis. I am doing well. I have to work at keeping the fear of recurrence at bay. I volunteer some of my time to help other newly diagnosed women begin to navigate the journey. I try to stay positive and enjoy my life as a thriving survivor. I do not waste my time on the negative in the world but instead use each of my days as gifts. These events have taught me that there is so much good in this world, we just have to look for it. Sometimes its buried under so much negative that its hard to see…but it is there.

This year, I lost an aunt to the same dreaded disease. She was my mentor, my friend and a strong woman who I loved dearly. Her death hit me pretty hard. I pray for a day when cancers of all types are eradicated from our population; a time when children and aunts can live without the threat of such an unfair disease. I long for a cure.

Lori Lee
Smithfield, NC
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