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My journey my walk and my story

I am a 9 years breast cancer survivor..I was diagnosed as a stage 3....I had to have my breasts removed I went through 7 or 8 months of chemo therapy....the chemo started messing with my heart causing congestive heart failure ...so they took me off...trying to give my heart a chance to correct itself..... I had radiation everyday for 13 weeks after radiation I went through lymphedema... which is a chronic swelling of a limb..which ended my career as a letter carrier. ..I did end up with congestive heart failure. The chemotherapy caused my heart muscle to weaken and caused problems with two valves...this lead to open heart surgery to repair the two leaky valve heart....I thought surgery would fix my heart problems caused by chemo....I was broken hearted to find out that my heart is still weak... so I had the open heart surgery in January of 2014....I was given 6 months to rebuild my heart on my own with exercise and cardiovascular activities ..if it's not build up then I will get a pacemaker.. I suffer from bradycardia which is slow heart beat...so the pacemaker will correct the problem....I'll find out next Friday, October 31, 2014, if I need more surgery....I'm staying prayerful...Thanks you for allowing me to share my story.

Betty Jones
Cleveland, OH

Fought Like A Girl

My name is Diana Roche. In August 2003, I found out just how much of a fighter I really was. I had been feeling "not myself" for months and after numerous visits to the physician, was told i was a hypochondriac and to come back when there was really something wrong. Luckily, shortly after being told this, I found a lump in my left breast after a shower one day.

At age 29, I was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer, negative for estrogen and progesterone. After a very short discussion with my husband and my parents, I decided right away that I was going to have a left mastectomy. This would be followed by chemotherapy.

The hardest part about having breast cancer was the fear of dying and leaving my two young boys without a mother. After surgery, my oldest son, age 11 at the time, overheard his father telling his girlfriend that I for sure had cancer. I was getting settled in at home after surgery and received a phone call from my son asking, "mommy, do you have cancer?" I had not yet prepared myself for this conversation. I answered, "yes." Next question was, "Are you going to die?" I REALLY had not prepared myself to answer that question! I fought back the tears, took a deep breathe and told him, "Absoutely not!"

I believe that was the day my strength and fight came to light. The numerous surgeries, the chemotherapy, the sickness, the baldness. That was easy compared to believing enough in myself to make my children believe and my family believe that I was a fighter and "Yes," I was going to survive.

The biggest things I want people to take away from my story is to ALWAYS listen to your body. We know ourselves better than anyone and know when somethings not right. Surround yourself with positivity and love. And....believe in yourself, believe your a fighter, believe your a survivor!

All my Love,

Diana Roche

Diana Roche
Elyria, OH

Fifteen Years of Living Cancer Free

My mom is a fifteen year survivor of breast cancer. She was diagnosed in 1999 and had a radical mastectomy, was on Tamoxifen for a few years, and has been cancer-free since. She was able to attend my college graduation, which she otherwise would not have seen. Early detection saved her life, and now I am vigilant about exams and mammograms. Unfortunately, my uncle was not able to be saved. Just a reminder that it does affect men as well.

Michele Peterson
Hillsboro, OR

Men Get Breast Cancer Too ! I did.

In 2012, I was 49 years old and I was diagnosed, after a mammogram, ultrasound and biopsy, with stage 3a invasive ductal carcinoma in my left breast. Yes...men have breasts too. Over our pectoral muscle we have a certain amount of breast tissue.

I was treated with a mastectomy with lymph node dissection, 18 weeks of aggressive chemotherapy (6 rounds, a round every 3 weeks of A,C and T) , after a little time off, 25 daily rounds of generous radiation. I'm currently showing no evidence of disease and I am on a 10 year course of Tamoxifen. Between the chemotherapy and the tamoxifen, they leave me a some cognitive issues. Remembering names, instructions, and such are sometimes difficult.

Breast cancer gave me so much more than it's taken away though. I've been fortunate to meet wonderful people; doctors, nurses, aides. And made wonderful friends who I never would have met otherwise.

Today I am an advocate for male breast cancer. I speak to folks about my journey whenever I have a chance. I do the media tour in October with the local newspapers, television, radio and internet radio blogs type shows.

Men: talk to your family about your family history of breast cancer and other diseases. Then talk to your doctor about that family history and ask what your risk factors are. Work with your doctor to minimize those risk factors. Learn and do monthly breast self exams. What you don't know can kill you.

This year, according to the American Cancer Society, over 2,300 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer. Of that number, 430 is expected to die from it due to the late stage in which it's found. If you feel something, say something.

Bob DeVito
Waterbury, CT

Blessed and Highly Favoured- I'm a survivor

I was diagnosed with Lymphoma in 2007. By the time I was diagnosed, the cancer had already started spreading, and fast. I had 3 tumors in my chest, a mass the size of a soccer ball underneath my left lung, and the cancer cells had made their way into my small intestines. I was at stage 4. I went through 9 1/2 months of intense chemo, 8 hours each time. I think the chemo was the worse. Within the first two weeks after my first treatment, my hair began to come out by the handfuls. Here I am today, alive, breathing and still able to share my story with women like you all. We're blessed and we're all a testimony to other women who are fighting these same kinds of battles. I commend you all because as for me, it was one of the hardest battles I've ever had to endure, but at the same time, it made me stronger, wiser and more appreciative of those smaller things in life I once overlooked or took for granted. Sending a big hug to all you!!!!!!

Cassandra Sims
Farmville, NC

Every Day is A NEW Day

I have been working at an Oncology clinic since May 2013,In Nov 2013 I felt a lump on my left breast, I thought I was just being paranoid so I went on without giving it a second thought. In Jan 2014 I started having some sharp pains under my left arm. At this time I decided to talk to one of the nurses at my clinic to see what she thought. Without hesitation she had me scheduled for my first mammogram and sonogram, also an appointment to see a breast surgeon. On Jan 9th of 2014 my morning started out like any other morning I went to my appointments then had to wait until the afternoon to see the doctor. As she was giving me a routine breast exam she put her arm on my arm and told me that I had CANCER. Immediately tears started rolling down my face, all I could think about was my family and my three little boys at home. A 32 year old single mom, what was I going to do?? How was I going to tell my family?? After this It was a whirlwind of doctors visits, scans and planning out the next steps. I started chemo while still working full time. Everyday I just told myself no matter what happened, how bad I felt the day before TODAY IS A NEW DAY. I held my head up and knew that no matter what I have the most wonderful kids, best friends and coworkers (support community) anyone could ask for. I am happy to say that I have completed 16 rounds of chemo, a double mastectomy, radiation and now awaiting reconstruction. EVERY DAY IS A NEW DAY!! :)

Jodi
Garland, TX

Round 2... This time I will win this fight for good!

No one thinks they will get cancer once, let alone twice, especially with no family history! I was surprised when I found a lump the size of a baby carrot on my right breast in February 2012. After numerous biopsies, I discovered that I had stage 2 aggressive triple negative breast cancer. I was 48 years old, recently divorced and had my 8 year old daughter, my 25 year old son, my family and friends to live for. I knew I needed to keep a positive attitude and that I could fight and win!

I underwent 20 weekly rounds of chemo. My tumor was completely dissolved prior to my double mastectomy in August of 2012. I held a positive attitude. Laughter, love, physical activity and the support of family and friends kept me fighting. Just because you are diagnosed with cancer does not mean you need to throw in the towel and give up. I did not get physically sick and I believe it was due to my positive attitude. I am very grateful that I was able to water ski, downhill ski, work my full time job and continue to do everything that I loved throughout my treatment. I was on my road to recovery with a new outlook on life.

In February 2014, my cancer had returned, stage 2. It was back to surgery followed by 12 weekly rounds of chemo. I am now headed for 6 weeks of daily radiation, reconstruction, fat graphing surgeries and a hysterectomy for preventative measures. My energy has been less and I have not been able to tolerate my physical activities like I had with the first round. I am doing my best to keep my positive attitude and energy. The recent announcement that i will be a first time grandmother in March helps me to fight even more!

Never give up and never give in. Do your routine checks and know that if you or someone you know is diagnosed, this can be fought and won! Keep a positive attitude! Live your life, laugh a lot & love others!

Patti Carty-Heffner
St. Francis, MN

My survival

I was Diagnosed with breast cancer grade 3 in 2002, i had surgery, chemo and radiotherapy, i had to take a year out from work,(im a nurse in our hospital).

I' am Married with 2 children, a boy aged 15 then and a girl 17 then, I think it was hard for my family to understand what was happening,they tryed their best.

I was in and out of hospital due to treatment but i did'nt let it stop me from organising my daughter's 18th birthday party,i wanted things to go on as normal as i could for my family, that was in the june,in the july it was my birthday,which was very nice,with my family, the same week my mam took ill and was admitted to hospital,they asked for all her family to attend,it was'nt good! she passed away while we were there.

I took this very hard and went on a downward feeling for life,i cancelled my last 2 chemo sessions,which was hard but all i could think of is getting back to work.

I had radiotherapy earlyer than expected,then went back to work,I did and still do suffer with a damaged immune system,to which i am getting good care.

I desided i want to give back for all the help i got, so, i do the Race for Life every year and i also make cards and crafts to sell for Macmillan and heart foundation,I have had my work and story in magazines and hope it's a inspiration to others. I do keep intouch to this day with other survivors.

I can not say it has'nt changed me,because it has,i have become a harder person, my friends say i'm like an armidillo.........hard on the outside but soft on the inside,I do find sometimes i cry at the slightest thing,on the other hand I can be a tower of strength when needed,it's been 12years now, my family are my life.All i can say is this is a life worth fighting for, and i will keep up the fight for ALL survivors.

Elaine Sutton
Peterborough,Cambs, United Kingdom

Missy

Let me start by saying please please please get that mammogram. I went for mine Jan 2013 after missing 3 years. Three days after my mammogram I received a letter and a phone call asking me to set up an ultra sound. It only took ten minutes (lifetime) for the radiologist to recommend a surgeon. I have never had to deal with surgeons, oncologists, or any cancer related procedures. Well that changed real quickly. After meeting with my surgeon I was scheduled for a biopsy. And from there, you guessed it. My diagnosis on Jan 10,2013 was triple negative breast cancer. Surgery was done on Jan 17,2013 my youngest daughters 21st birthday. I had stage 2b triple neg bc with 1 lymph node involved. (16 removed after sentinel node biopsy) and my tumor was 3.5 centimeters. My treatment consisted of 8 rounds of chemo and 33 rounds if radiation. I also changed my oncologist after 1 round if chemo , to an oncologist who specializes in breast cancer. Well I have been out of treatment since August 22,2014 and I am still dealing with side effects. I have lemphodema and neropathy. I also have dischage so now I am facing an mri. BUT I have an amazing wife (yes wife) an amazing family and faithful God. I have support from my work and friends as well. The positive in all this is that with triple negative, once treatment is over there are no more meds. Menopause has hit hard, but thank God I have three amazing kids.... I pray every day for a cure so no one else has this path. Please take the time and get that mammogram.....

Missy Perreault
Middleton, NH

No Cancer Glasses for Me

I was diagnosed with breast cancer 26 years ago. I immediately began a year of treatment, including a mastectomy, then chemo and radiation. I was married with two boys who were two and six years old, and I was a full time elementary school teacher. I truly believed that I would beat cancer, not let it take over my life. In my mind, I thought of cancer as shaded glasses, and I refused to wear them. I would not look at my life through those cancer glasses. I focused instead on me, my recovery, on my family, my career and my future. I had cancer, cancer did not have me.

Now my boys are independent young men, I have retired after 36 years in a successful career, and am still married to the same wonderful man. But last August, after 25 years of good health, I received the same diagnosis, same treatment, even the same doctors. I still refused to wear those cancer glasses. This time I lost all my hair, and had to adjust to a new me, but I still focused on my recovery, my family and friends, and volunteering in first grade classrooms when I could.

I know that I will recover once again. My hair is growing back, and I have been getting so many compliments on my short, curly style, I think I will keep it this way.

I truly believe that keeping a positive outlook is equally, if not more important than all of the treatments I have received. Focusing on the big picture--life--and not seeing everything through cancer, that is what makes the difference here.

Gail Staples
Moline, IL
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