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My Journey with Breast Cancer

I had just started a new job when I found the lump in my breast. It was during my cycle so (being a nurse) I waited to see if anything would change. When it didn't, I decided to wait until the next cycle ended to see what happened. {Nurses are notorious for waiting things out}. Even though both of my grandmothers had breast cancer, I'm 37, I never thought it would actually be cancer. After much prodding from a friend who said she would go with me, I went. I'm so glad she did. I found out on 6/3/14 that it was breast cancer. My husband was on a mission trip in the Dominican Republic when I got the news.I was scheduled to leave for my mission trip to the DR on 6/9/14 and I felt that I really needed to go. That God was saying, "Take this time to process" and it was ok with my doc so I went. I am so glad I did. It was such a spiritual experience for me.

We have 3 little girls so we decided to wait until I returned from my trip on 6/18/14 to tell them. They were devastated. I had a double mastectomy on 6/20. I started chemo on 7/30/14. It took awhile for my Oncotype DX results to come back. In the study with % from 1-50, mine was 69% chance of recurrence in 10 years! My oncologist said he had never seen a number than high...guess it's my good genes :) The first treatment landed me in the ICU with a white blood cell count of 0.6 and a temp of 105.5! I was there for 5 days! I just had my second treatment yesterday. I'm not sure where this will all lead. But I know that God has shown me that no matter what, I will be ok. That I will be here for all of those firsts still yet to come with my girls. I am getting through this purely through God's strength. Without Him, I don't know how I could face all of this.

Shana Carnes
Statesboro, GA

Okay, I have Breast Cancer.. now what?

When I felt the lump that would forever change my life I knew without a doubt that it was Cancer. I was 29, a single mother to a 7 year old, and 100 % sure that I had Cancer. After all the initial doctor appointments and scan as well as biopsies the results were in. It was the day before my daughter turned 8 that I received the Confirmation. To my surprise my cancer was proven to be unrelated to a family history of breast cancer. i had triple negative Braca negative as well. My cancer was unique for the tumor was large and had grown completely into my peck muscle. This type of location so rare many of my doctors had never treated a case as mine. I was thrown into an aggressive chemotherapy regime. I would go on to 4 cycles of the red devil as well as 16 consecutive weeks of two other drugs. I followed the expected route hair loss, low blood counts, blood transfusion, and extreme nausea and exhaustion. I completed my chemo three days after my 30 birthday. I went on to have a mesectomy. They took all breast tissue,peck muscle, and some chest wall. A week after I came home to recover I became septic and had to have the expander removed. I have been home three weeks since that last surgery. I feel like a different person now, that first day that I looked in the mirror and saw the indent in my chest was hard. I felt my women hood slip away, but I worked hard on myself.I now look at all my wounds as battle scars. I am proud of the road that is behind me. I can look in my young daughters eyes and feel secure in my self, in the type of role model I am to her, and to other young women who have to walk down this road. I start radiation in a week and am eager to get it started. I am still moving forward and greatful for every step I CAN take!

Staci Rinehart
Kettering, OH

A Family Affected

I am a 35 yr old wife and mother. I have struggled with lumps and pain throughout my breasts for the past 16 months, suffering with fibrocystic disorder. My initial visit, my gynecologist referred me for a mammogram and ultrasound. I was asked to return 6 mos later for a follow-up. 6 mos later I was then referred for another ultrasound, upon the results they ordered my first biopsy. Results were negative. 3 mos later extreme tenderness and pain along with several other lumps began appearing, I returned to my gynecologist and was referred immediately to an Oncologist. He did an ultrasound and stated he didn't see anything of concern and sent me for an MRI. The next day he called and stated they recommended an additional biopsy. I waited for almost 2 mos with no call from them to schedule the second biopsy, so I began to search for another doctor. Upon locating one, I sent over all my reports from the several mammograms, ultrasounds, biopsy and MRI. they scheduled me an immediate appointment. My initial appointment, was there for 5 hrs as they completed additional extensive testing on me and I was directed to return in one week for the second biopsy. The following day I received the results and the news that I had breast cancer. I am now scheduled for a bilateral mastectomy next week. I would like to urge ALL women young or older, PLEASE do not wait or allow a doctor to "throw you on the sidelines". Had I not been persistent, who knows when I would have been diagnosed and the results could have been a lot worse. I am a wife, who's husband was wrongfully convicted of a crime, whom sits in prison as my children and I have to endure this journey without him. We have children ranging from ages 16 all the way down to 7 years. I'm not scared, I just wish I knew what to expect post-surgery. I know that God has given me the strength to endure this, and in the end He will be glorified.

Victoria Hernandez
Salton City, CA

Preventative double mastectomy at 21

My mom was taken by this horrible disease when I was only eight years old and she was only 40 years old in 2001. As I got older I knew that I did not want to go through what she went through. I didn't want my family to go through that kind of pain again. I also never wanted my future children to go through the tragedy of losing their mother. At the age of 20 I decided to be proactive and get genetically tested for the breast cancer gene. I knew if I had the gene that my choice would be to get a preventative double mastectomy. The results came back and I did not have the gene. However we didn't know if my mom had the gene because they didn't have genetic testing when she was diagnosed. Therefore this put me in a slightly high risk situation. My decision was to go ahead and get the preventative double mastectomy with reconstruction. My doctors told me I could wait but I honestly didn't want to. I am young, don't have kids, or very many responsibilities other than college and work. It was one of the easiest and most beautiful decisions I've ever made. Almost six months post op and it is still by far the BEST decision I have ever chosen in my life. I urge all women to be as proactive as they can. Take your life and your health into your own hands.

Gabrielle Sylvester
Portland, ME

I am a survivor!

In January 2002, I found a lump in my left breast which didn't feel quite right during my monthly breast self-exam. I fretted about it for a short time, then made an appointment with my family doctor. She said it felt "palpable" and referred me to a surgeon. I met with this doctor in March 2002 who determined that I should have a biopsy.

The doctor said that he had "good news" for me; the lump was benign. I was excited, for about a week. But I was very uneasy and continued with my monthly exams. After 6 months, I asked for additional testing. He told me that it was unnecessary, but "if you insist", he said he would do. I replied "I insist!" Thank God I pressed. I was scheduled for a biopsy using ultrasound. Even I could see something wrong on the ultrasound. The tech's attitude shifted, and I knew. When the doctor's office called and asked that I come in that same day…. All I needed to know was when the surgery would be done.

I had surgery in October 2002. It was stage 3 which had spread into my lymph nodes. 3 weeks later, chemotherapy. I had eight rounds, once every three weeks of some potent chemo drugs; this was completed in May 2003. I lost ALL of my hair and the chemo left me totally wiped about for about a week each time. Next, 31 rounds of radiation therapy, which I postponed for a week. I went on a victory cruise to celebrate my healing!!!

I thank God for my healing. I celebrated 10 years cancer-free in October 2012 with a great pink party. I do all I can to encourage other ladies who have heard those dreaded words "you have cancer". I was blessed that I had excellent insurance and never had to be concerned about my treatments. I am survivor, and I believe that this gift was given to me to be used to the fullest. I am doing what I can to live my life and enjoy it all.

Barbara Walker
Indianapolis, IN

My Life.

Two years ago in March I found a lump in my breast, had a consultation with my GP who sent me for a mammogram, ultra sound scan and biopsy. Once the results were available, my GP came to our ho,e and personally broke the news about this being Cancer, then he knelt down beside us both and prayed the most beautiful prayer - it was Holy Week Services just before Easter and seemed very significant and meaningful at the time. I saw the Specialist and had a Lumpectomy a week later. My GP assisted and was also able to pray with me before going into Theatre. The operation was fine, but I had problems with the drains together with an infection which cleared after much prayer. I was referred to a very nice Oncologist who sent me for various tests, etc and made a decision for me to only have Radiation treatment for six weeks. The Radiologists were wonderful girls and I had no problems whatsoever with the treatment or afterwards and know that my Father's hand was upon me at all times. I am now on Arimidex for 5 years - there are side-effects to this, but I am eternally grateful for the Doctors, Specialists, Oncologists and Radiologists who treated and still treat me so sensitively and also for my overall health. I trust our Father every moment of every day for continued health. Thank you for allowing me to share my story. May this help someone somewhere - we are all on life's journey.

as above
Howick, KwaZulu, Natal, South Africa

Stage Right

6 yrs. ago I was told I had a lump in the right breast that was "Just a cyst" at the time and to keep an eye on it . Come back next year they told me, for my next mammogram. They told me that every year for 4 yrs. The last Mammogram was followed by an ultrasound. Again, no concern see you next yr.

I became uninsured and so could not afford mammograms and because my husband made too much did not qualify for low cost or free mammograms. So I went a few yrs. w/o one. I am now 48 almost 49 yrs. old, still uninsured I was able to obtain a free voucher for a mammogram and ultrasound followed by a biopsy 4 weeks ago. It came back positive for ductal carcinoma invasive breast cancer. Last Friday I had a lumpectomy with two nodes removed. I have been told that it is possibly stage 1. Which means it got caught very early and hopefully has not spread to other parts of my body.

It is sad that women like me, who can't afford insurance, but yet make too much to qualify for low cost or free mammograms, have to go w/o and thus this is the end result. Something has to be done to change this! But the question there in lies, HOW?!! Needing a mammogram should not depend on your income level !

It is scary when you are told you have cancer and are faced with your own mortality. I was one of the lucky ones . It makes me reflect on those who have not been so lucky.

Carla Curtis
Midvale, UT

30 Seconds and One word…My life changed forever

I'm 32 years old, I never thought that cancer was even a possibility. Just a few weeks ago, I found a large lump in my right breast. I went to see my family doctor the next day. He had me in for a mammogram only a couple days later. The radiologist came out and asked me to come for an ultrasound right away. When we were done the ultrasound she excused herself for a few minutes and when she came back, she had schedule me for an immediate biopsy. I got through everything that morning and spent the remainder of the day in a bit of a haze. Two days later, my doctor told me I had cancer. He said the word and it was like the world went silent, I am grateful my boyfriend was with me. Three days after that, I saw the surgeon and we decided on my treatment. On August 29, 2014 I will be having a full mastectomy of my right breast followed by chemo. I am scared.

One thing I know for sure in this whole cancer business is that I have no option but to kick butt. I have an 8 year old daughter that I plan on watching graduate from high school, get married and have children of her own.

I am grateful that I have so many supportive people that have been by my side the last few weeks and that are fighting with me. One person in particular is my best friend and boyfriend of 6.5 years. When this is all said and done and we can say we kicked cancers butt, I plan on marrying this man.

My journey is only beginning and I don't know what the road ahead looks like, but last night I decided I wanted to document it through photos. I've attached a picture that was taken last night as part of my before mastectomy photos.

Cancer doesn't care how old you are, who you are or what you do. Get your girls checked and do your self examines because the alternative sucks!

Morgan Tripke
Red Deer, AB, Canada

My Cancer journey 2013 till 2014

Beginning 2013 breast cancer micro mestastasis in my gland had a very large tumour and another one growing next to it 6 months chemotherapy plus 1 month radiotherapy 2 years Tamoxifen and then will be put onto a newer medicine to treat my illness I have just shaved my head as wasnt happy with the growth.Feeling better as the months go by love living and am grateful to be alive.

During chemotherapy I admit it was hell as also was in hospital and isolation after my 5th session during 12 days ,very ill due to my immune system being so low that anything or anyone who wasnt covered was a risk to my life.Hospital nurses were my angels and was lucky.

My husband and daughters and sisters and everyone in our families went out of the way to take it in turns to sit with me and make sure I ate properly even if there were days specially after each session of chemotherapy that I could hardly swallow or talk due to swollen throat and other symptoms.


Give yourself time to heal as well as after chemotherapy and radiotherapy my legs could hardly carry me for months and even bending down to pick something up I would get terrible dizzy spells.

The days I woke up feeling weak I would rest and feel better the next.

Dont let anyone force you to do your normal life just because.

Do as you please.

Try to not let fear take over, enjoy each day doing as you feel..

I know its difficult to understand what I am saying but I found great strength in facing my breast cancer wanting to know each and every single detail.

Here the Oncologist try to avoid explaining chemotherapy in full detail but I told him, tell me EVERYTHING its not knowing that is worse.

Keep faith and enjoy the time you have for you.

I found this helped my family to confront it all with my strength & aittitude.

Sending my love and words with strength to all my lovely breast cancer sisters <3 <3

Aurora Tandon
Marbella, Spain

Soldier and Survivor

One day in April 2008, while taking a shower I found a lump in my left breast. I thought it was probably nothing because I was 29 years old, healthy and busy with my life but decided to get it checked out by my family doctor because I would soon be leaving home to prepare for a deployment with the Army National Guard and my grandmother had breast cancer. The doctor sent me for a mammogram (negative) and an ultra sound that revealed a mass. I was referred to a surgeon and had a biopsy a few days later. The surgeon told me the dreaded words "you have cancer." I was shocked! I would no longer be fighting for my country now I would be fighting for my life. I had a mastectomy and some lymph nodes removed (negative for any further cancer). Chemotherapy and radiation treatments followed. God blessed me with love support and prayers from family, friends, co workers and many others that helped me. I knew that god led me to breast cancer and he would lead me through it. I finished my treatments in December 2008.

I researched pregnancy after breast cancer but found little information. After all most women who get breast cancer are past that part of life. My husband and I put our trust in god and in June 2011 I found out I was pregnant. February 2012 we were blessed with a baby girl.

It has been over 6 years since I heard the words "you have cancer." My army days have long since past but I will always be a soldier and a survivor.

Marion, VA
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