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I am Grateful!

My journey began May 17, 2013. I went for my mammogram, 15 minutes later a sonogram, 15 minutes later multiple biopsies. It all happened so fast my head was spinning. Long story short, my diagnosis was Triple Negative breast cancer - 5cm tumor in left breast with positive lymph nodes. Because I have Sarcoidosis, the right side lymph nodes were biopsied as well, all were OK. Blessed with an amazing team of specialists, the decision was to do 8 rounds of aggressive chemotherapy, followed by a bi-lateral mastectomy, and 33 radiation treatments. October 30, 2013, the mastectomy was done. My Oncologist still gives me fist bumps when I see him because the pathology reports from the mastectomy came back all clear! Total response to the chemotherapy! The journey of Breast Cancer has been a blessing for me. I know that sounds strange, but it really is true. I don't believe it is a punishment or a lesson, or a "why me" or any of that other negative stuff. My illness has taught me more about life, love, family, friendship, and myself that I ever thought possible. For me, when I heard my diagnosis it took a few days to sink in...then the journey began. The miracle began. I realized how fragile we all are. I can honestly say that I know things happen for a reason...the reason is revealed to us when we need it. I try not to take people and things for granted because life really is short. Tell the people in your life how much they mean to you and that you love them. Be kind. Be real. We all have a story so share it. You never know... someone listening might need to hear it. It may give them hope or a different perspective on something they are struggling with. Cry when you need to. Give and get lots of Hugs. Laugh as much as possible. Ask for help when you need it and help someone else when you can. Don't sweat the small stuff. Most of all....keep the FAITH, God is good.

April Fleshman
Annapolis, MD

5 Month Survivor

I had my annual mammogram on April 10th, a few days later I got a letter from the hospital telling me to contact my Dr. I saw him on April 22nd & he had already made me an appt. for another mammo & ultrasound for the 23rd. I was sent for a biopsy on my right breast April 29th & on May 1st I was told to come in & talk to my

Dr. on May 2nd. My daughter went with me because we suspected the news was not good. He recommended a great Oncology Surgeon which I saw on May 15th & did pre-op testing. I had a lumpectomy & 2 lymph nodes removed on May 21st. On May 29th I had post-op appt. with Dr. Li, he said I had Triple Negative..... Invasive Ductal Carcinoma Stage 1 but the lymph nodes were good. I saw my Oncologist, Dr. Burton, on June11th & he recommended 34 radiation treatments & called in my Radiation Oncologist, Dr. Wilkinson, who gave me my options & I chose the radiation which I completed on Aug. 26th.

I give God credit for my well being plus my many praying friends and the love and support of family & friends. I had the best doctors & radiation therapists,

Lauren, Matt & Jodi for which I am grateful. My doctors keep a check on me. I am truly blessed.

Tommye Byford
Mansfield, LA

2 1/2 years ago our lives were turned upside down...

On April 25th 2012 I found out right away during a biopsy that I had stage 1 breast cancer, it was confirmed from pathology 2 days later. Entering my 30's it was always such a huge fear since my mom passed away at age 35 from breast cancer when I was 15. I had been having mammograms since I was 22.

I believe my daughter Karysnn Lily to be my miracle baby. In March of 2012 she was born 6 weeks premature. Staying by a large facility I decided to get a tiny bump looked at that I thought was a clogged milk duct. After everything, that bump was nothing and in a different area the breast cancer was found. On May 16th I elected to have a bilateral mastectomy with immediate reconstruction just 3 days before my oldest daughters graduation ceremony. Nothing was going to stop me from being there, I was THERE, with a smile on my face! Trying to heal from my mastectomy and take care of an infant definitely was a challenge but with my fiance, my kids, family, and friends we all got through it! They are all my heroes!

Though many tears,I tried to remain positive no matter what! Driving 10,000 miles that year to over 60 doctor appointments, 4 surgeries that year I was so HAPPY to be done and be a survivor! My fiance was my rock taking me to every surgery and being the first face to see when I woke up. He even stayed up the entire night after my mastectomy pushing the pain medication button for me just so I could get sleep! Wiped tears, made me smile, and always there hugging me! He truly is amazing!

We were so blessed to have yet another baby girl born in April of this year! Charlee Mae is 6 months old now!

My WHOLE experience inspired me to write a booklet to help women going through a mastectomy!

I truly believe that surrounding yourself with POSITIVE people, and having a POSITIVE attitude make a huge difference! I LOVE PINK!

Chrissy Johnson
Minneapolis, MN

I BEAT IT TWO TIMES

Hi my name is Avis Grace I am 48 years old I just finished chemo the 25 of September I am now waiting to get my tits lol but its been a hard road in 2010 I had breast cancer in my right breast I finish that like nothing but in 2013 it came back in the same breast just on the other side I was scared not for me my family But I keep smiling each day so they would not worry I lost both breast but I live and still fight you can't give up keep you mine clear and a smile on your face even when you don't feel like it I didn't a lot of times I just want to say I LOVE YOU AND WE ARE FIGHTER LET'S KEEP FIGHTING

Anonymous
LITHONIA, GA

Starting over

It was April this year and I was in nursing school ready to graduate in May. My mother in law had just passed in February of cancer and I was getting our lives back to a new normal (she lived with us and was an amazing help). I decided that I did not want to be one of those nurses that tells their patients how to take care of them selves but I was doing what I was preaching. So off to the OB I went and I scheduled my first mamogram. He told me to expect a call back because I had dense tisue. I went and they did call me back but the next look was not what the radiologist liked so the next day I saw a surgeon and the next day a biopsy. It will probably be nothing everyone says. Guess what after waiting for what seemed like forever (and trying to concentrate on school) I was told it was dcis/ cancer and a lumpectomy was needed. Needless to say I failed my nursing final by nine points and did not graduate. I was crushed and had cancer. I was flooded with depression and disappointment. I cried for the whole weekend. It was awful. My dream of being a nurse was gone and I was afraid and mad at God for putting me through all this. I went for my lumpectomy and clear margins were not obtained. I went for a second opinion and ended up electing to get a double mastectomy with a tummy tuck and flap reconstruction. After a long summer of recovery I am proud to say I am cancer free! And I am starting nursing school over again. I am uncertain how next semester will be paid for and how we will pay off the remaining hospital bills and how we will a ford Christmas for our three children but, I am cancer free. I made it through the storm. I have to believe God will provide. I am lucky. My cancer was caught early. I am blessed!

kristina borden
delaware, OH

My mum is a fighter!

The story begins in 2006. My mum went to the gynaecologist for the first time since my birth. Me and my dad were waiting for more than two hours at home. When I heard our front-door, I knew, that something went wrong. My mum came into my room, looking quite normal. Then I asked her about her appointment at the gynaecologist. And suddenly she was crying. She told me, that she had recognized a lump in her right breast. So she went to the doctor. I couldn't believe it. My mum had breast cancer. I remembered those bad and still hurting memories of my grandfather, who died in a very cruel way according to metastasized pancreas cancer. I was so shocked. We all cried a lot. We were so afraid of all that was probably happening to us. But what was really happening to us was different. She had a mastectomy, radiation and chemo. It was a hard time, but we went through it together. Cancer was gone. Everything seemed to be normal again. But then, after 6 years she told her doctor about dorsal pain. There were a few examinations and the result was bone cancer. Breast cancer had metastasized, it was back. She even began her treatment as she suddenly had blackouts and complained about numbness. There were metastasis in her brain. We all thought that this would be the end, but it wasn't. She went through a horrible radiation therapy with hallucinations and schizophrenia as side effects. Now she told me, that she can't remember those days. I was glad to hear this, cause it was hell. Now all brain metastasis has gone. Her doctor said, that she is a lucky one. Bone cancer is stabilized. The tumor marker is constantly decreasing and it is at a normal level. This all is a miracle to us and we are thankful, that she is still here with us! We know, that everything can change, but we try to stay positive and for now there is no reason to become desperate. Life is valuable and we enjoy our time.

Anonymous
Duisburg, Germany

Permanent reminder

I didn't suffer through having breast cancer, but I lost a dear friend to it. She never told me that she had the dreaded disease, always telling me "The doctor's don't know what's wrong yet." and she passed away in 2005. I finally found out in 2012 that it was from breast cancer and decided to get a permanent reminder of the battle she went through.

Since that time, I've been told by my best friend that her mother is a survivor and my boyfriend's mother recently had a double mastectomy (including a set of lymph nodes that were affected) and is awaiting her reconstruction surgery in the coming months.

The picture I've attached is the tattoo I had gotten for all the warriors that have battled beast cancer, the ribbon showing the marks of being beaten, worn and battled, but still staying strong. I wear it on honor of my friend, Patricia that lost her battle, my best friend's mother Grace and my boyfriend's mother Regina that both survived.

Anonymous
Shelbyville, TN

i will thrive and survive

At 41 after having my son at 40 I was told i needed to have my first mammogram. Later I got the call they found some calcifications. Had a biopsy and was diagnosed in march. I am a mother of 3, 16yr old son, 5yr old daughter, 14 month old boy. I was diagnosed with Invasive Ductal Carcinoma in March of 2014. The dr thought that it was contained in my breast and hadn't spread as of yet. I had a bilateral mastectomy in april 2014 and was told it spread to 1 of my lymph nodes. Now I have started with advance Chemo very 2 weeks til August and then Taxol and herceptin every week from August til Nov. I qualified for a study on women who were one node + and HER - to take another round of Herceptin chemo to see if it will reduce the rate in recurrence. So I will start that round of Chemo in Nov and finish in August of 2015. I start the reconstruction process in July. But will not be able to finish until Chemo is over which will not be done until August of 2015. Long rode ahead but I can do it.

Melisa Lucas
Winfield, PA

Today i'm 1 year Cancer free

Last September Jimmy and I went to the Dr. for our yearly checkup. My Dr. says to Jimmy “Your wife is perfect!!!” I said “You see Jimmy even the Dr. says so. LOL! A couple of days later I felt a lump on my right breast, within a week I heard those words no one wants to hear “ sorry, you have Cancer”. I went into fighting mode, weird thing I wasn't scared. I decided to just enjoy life as if nothing was wrong because there was nothing I could do until I received a prognosis. So I celebrated Jimmy’s B-day, our Anniversary,finally 24 days later after many tests we met with my Oncologist a day before Jimmy gets laid off, which was a blessing because I knew he wanted to be by my side through this .I was stage 2,over 3.5cm on right breast and a smaller one on left. The Dr. gave me several treatment options, I really didn’t hear any of them. All I knew is that I wanted the tumors out, I wanted a double mastectomy. He said : are you sure? I said “YES", He said “when”..I said “Tomorrow!!!" He said: how about next week! I said “Perfect!" a week later I had a double mastectomy with implants and a lymph node biopsy.My lymph node biopsy came back negative, they removed all the cancer and my Oncotype DX was very low therefore I didn’t need Chemo. I felt like the luckiest girl in the world! Within 6 months I had 2 other surgeries(implants removed and redone and a total abdominal hysterectomy), I feel great now, I’m on Femara ,42 months to go, I have terrible side effects from the meds but I’m Alive and Happy! Thanks to all my friends and family for the love, support, prayers and especially Jimmy who through all 3 surgeries never left my side , He literally pulled a chair, held my hand all night.I never knew someone could love me that much. I am truly blessed! I love my Jimmy! We just celebrated 22 years together and 15 married.

Zoila Benezra
Miami Beach, FL

My story

On December 4, 2013 I was pregnant and had an ultrasound, which showed an eptopic pregnancy. The next day I went to my gynecologist & went into surgery to remove the tube and fetus. All I could ask was why? Why can't we have a baby. Then in February I went back for check up & my doctor says have you had a mammo, I said no. He says your 40 you need one, I said ok so that week I had one.

On February 28, 2014 my life changed after a mammo and biopsy when I was diagnosed with stage 1 triple negative ductal carcinoma breast cancer. I never asked why cause now I understood why we lost the baby. I believe the baby saved my life. I may not have had the mammo and early detection if it wasn't for the baby. I then had lumpectomy on my right breast and lymph nodes checked for cancer which was negative. Then I had an IV port placed in my chest so I could undergo chemotherapy. In April 2014 I started chemo, I had 6 sessions every three weeks. I made it through chemo like a trooper. I thought the hardest thing would be losing my hair, but it really wasn't that bad. When I was almost done with chemo I took a test to determine if I was BRCA gene mutation positive or not. Unfortunately I was told I was BRCA1 positive, which meant I had high chances of breast cancer again and ovarian cancer. So I decided to have the surgeries. I had my mastectomy and started my reconstruction on September 30, 2014. After these surgeries are complete, which will be about 2-4 months I will have the hysterectomy. Going into mastectomy I discovered that my daughter and not one but both of my sisters are BRCA 1 gene mutation positive. I also have a son and six nieces and nephews to be tested for the mutated gene. I so HOPE they are negative, we already have so much to worry about already.

Christa
Hillsboro, TX
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