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All About the Boobs, No cancer!

Tuesday, December 1st, I underwent reconstructive surgery after a year of battling stage 3 breast cancer! I endured 6 rounds of chemo, 52 weeks of targeted therapy, 28 rounds of radiation, a double mastectomy with lymph node removal, as well as 10 rounds of expansion sessions and construction!! What a year!!!

I was 7 years away from my first mammogram when I found a lump & my son was just 9 months old when I heard those horrific words from my doctor,

"Kristen, it is cancer"... With the help of my friends and family I created a music video to help raise awareness and Stress the importance of early detection! I hope you enjoy and share with your loved ones!

Kristen Demeduk Amaral
Livermore, CA

Boobies for Christmas!

After going through chemo and a bilateral mastectomy (with immediate start of reconstruction), earlier this year, I am scheduled for my expander/implant switch for December 16th. Boobies for Christmas! I am singing this song to everyone:

"All I want for Christmas are my two front teats.

My new front teats, oh, my two front teats.

All I want for Christams is my two front teats,

So I get whistled at for Christmas!"

Where ever you are in your treatment process, know that it gets better. Have fun, enjoy everything and laugh when you can

Happy holidays to all my Breast Cancer sorority Sisters!

Carmen Severino
Naperville, IL

Finding Self-Compassion During & After Cancer

My Cancer journey began this summer when I was diagnosed with triple positive breast cancer at age 27. I never thought cancer would strike me. I was young and healthy and happy. At the beginning, I never thought I would be strong enough to make it through this challenge, but each step of the way I have surprised myself. Cancer has not only brought new perspective to my life but it has allowed me to find more love for myself and for others than I ever knew was possible. I wouldn't wish this disease upon anyone, but I am so grateful for the opportunity my diagnosis has provided me. I started blogging about my experience and it has connected me with an amazing community of patients and survivors. With the support of my husband, family, friends and new blog community I know I can make it through and I hope to come out of this experience a better person.

Anna (
Apex, NC

Just me and my cancer(s)...

My story starts with a heartache that I consider greater than a cancer diagnosis. It begins the day my son died, August 27th, 2013. I was 35 years old and 36 weeks pregnant, and I had to hear the most awful words in the world, “I’m so sorry, there’s no heartbeat.”. Nothing is worse than holding your dead child in your arms, nothing. A year later, I noticed I was gaining weight and having more unexplained symptoms. Several tests later, a mass, 22cm large tumor was found, ovarian cancer, November 2014. 3 weeks home from the hospital, I was in bed, recovering from surgery, I scratched my breast nonchalantly, and found my stage 2 breast cancer, er+/pr+ and her2+. Just 6 rounds of chemo, ending April 2015 and then 30 rads, ended August 2015, I had a radical hysterectomy November 2015 (to avoid further issues). I had the genetic test, BRCA1 and BRCA2, among others. All negative. I am a mystery so my doctors say.

There is an outcome to cancer. Live. Just live. Don’t let the ER visits, the bad tastes, the hair loss, the bowel problems, lack of hunger, etc, ...don’t let them get you. You have a reason to fight this, so find that reason and focus on it. My now 14 year old, she is my reason. I wrote a letter to her brother, I apologized to him, said I had to stick around for a while and take care of his sister. I have my reason to continue the fight, and so do you.

Parker, CO

Challenging Times

I would say that I am a happy person, love to smile and laugh and especially make anyone else feel the same. I am a single parent to 3 beautiful boys including 1 autistic son. We love to get involved in Special Olympics and different adventures when they are with me. I always have a smile on my face when I talk about them and warmth in my heart.

I recently returned to work in July 2015 after undergoing Major Extensive Brain Surgery back in April 2015 for Chiari Type 1 Malformation and Compression of my 7th Cranial Nerve. Recovery was extremely challenging but thankful for the help of my family and being able to see my boys. Now a Chiari Survivor!

Just 2 months returning and adjusting to work, I felt a rather large lump in my breast and was feeling like 'No this can't be'! I just healed from brain surgery and I am a very healthy person this is nothing. I went home and did a more thorough self exam and realized Oh My this is huge! Went through biopsy and was given the dreaded news "You have Breast Cancer"! I have Invasive Ductal Carcinoma High Grade, Triple Negative and is aggressive growing. I started Chemotherapy on 10/20/15 for the next 5 months and then face multiple surgeries. I have never been so terrified in my life and am reminded from family and friends that I can do this!!! I tell myself that every day and just try to get through each day as it comes. I was honest with my boys about me having cancer which was hard and continue to encourage them and myself I will get through this.

Shara Jackson
Kent, WA

One more step, a road still ahead...

I am a mother and have a beautiful blended family with six children ranging in age from 15 years old to 2 years old, all of whom reside with us. I have been married going on 7 years to a very devoted husband and father, Matthew, who works as an active duty sailor in the US Navy.

In May 2015 I felt a lump in my right breast, but I thought because I was still breast-feeding my toddler that it was a clogged milk duct or possibly my third bout of mastitis this year. After it did not resolve itself on its own, I saw my primary care doctor and was referred to the Breast Heath clinic for further screening. On August 12 I had a mammogram which was immediately followed with an ultrasound of my right breast. They scheduled my biopsy for the next day. August 20 I received the results of my biopsy: positive for cancer, specifically Invasive Ductal Carcinoma. My cancer was diagnosed as grade 3, triple negative, and Stage 2. On September 29 I went in for my surgery. They removed the breast cancer which was about golf ball sized, three lymph nodes from my armpit to see if the cancer was spreading, and one lymph node from my neck. The results came back a week or so later: they got all the cancer and the margins were clear, the lymph nodes under my arm did not show signs of the cancer spreading. It has been a long journey already, and I still have 20 weeks of chemotherapy followed by 5 weeks of radiation left to go.

Today I started chemo off with a bang by taking the dose dense AC. My chemotherapy regimen is called AC/T. Currently I'm taking dose dense AC every two weeks for four rounds. In eight weeks I start the T every week for 12 weeks.Treatment took about two hours from start to finish. I'm told the T will take about 4 hours, but it will be much gentler on my system than the AC I'm having these next 8 weeks.

Snow Flowers
San Diego, CA

Having fun with chemo

On June 1, 2015 I was diagnosed with Invasive ductal carcinoma stage 2A.

At 48 years old I was in shock, I couldn't have breast cancer I'm to young, but it was true I did have breast cancer.

I elected to have a bilateral mastectomy which was performed on June 6, 2015.

I was then introduced to chemo on July 15, 2015, through continued chemo treatments I lost all of my hair and I thought let's have some fun with this. The picture above shows me as a baby and then what I look like now. Then and Now.

I still have a long road ahead of me on this journey and will fight my hardest as I move through it.

Amanda Rothchild
Santa Rosa, CA

Why Cancer May Be Ugly But Bald Is Beautiful

When I heard the words "You have breast cancer", I expected a noise, a sound effect, some sort of boom. Too many movies perhaps, but it wasn't like that at all. It was very quiet, inward, still. In the city that never sleeps, you could hear a pin drop.

Along with the diagnosis comes treatment and subsequent hair loss. And I have always loved my hair. This seemed devastating. Don’t get me wrong, I wanted to get better. When my doctor explained the benefits of me getting chemotherapy, I was like, “Sign me up!” I want to live. I want to enjoy all of life, which was so possible just a couple of weeks earlier. But, I’m a woman, and I wanted to feel pretty. It sounds shallow. But it’s true.

The day my hair fell out I did cry. Just for a moment. It came out in handfuls and it was disturbing. In that moment, the reality of breast cancer hit me harder than going through the double mastectomy itself. It was in that moment that I said, “Wow, you really do have cancer.”

I wanted to feel sorry for myself but something inside me rose up. My inner voice said, “Ok, it’s really happening whether you’re on board or not, so you can cry, or you can deal with it.” The haircuts started that day. I had four of them, and was shaved bald by the end of that weekend.

I realized something in this.

I am not who I look like. My outside doesn’t define me. I am what I do, what I say, how I live my life. My value does not stem from how pretty I look. It stems from what kind of friend I am. What kind of artist I am. What kind of human being I am. My strength of character, my compassion, my creativity––these are where my real value can and should reside––and they shine far brighter than any head of hair. Cancer may be ugly, but bald is beautiful. And for me, this experience has taught me what “beauty” really means.

Ree Merrill (
Los Angeles, CA

Breast Cancer Did Not Get Me

On 11/30/05 I found a lump on my left breast. Through the month of December I went through mammograms, needle biopsy & then meeting w/ the surgeon & was diagnosed on 01/06/06 w/ stage 2A Insitu left breast cancer at 35. 2 weeks later I had a bilateral (left) mastectomy & 7 negative lymph nodes removed. I had 6 rounds of IV chemo, w/ 3 aggressive meds, because I had 2 separate lumps w/ 1 of them being very aggressive. I hated Chemo, but I survived! On 08/20/06 my cancer was in remission. My husband, mom and close family surrounded me regularly. About 6 weeks later I started having shortness of breath & gaining weight. In 10/06 I was diagnosed w/ cardiomyopathy and CHF. Over the next 4 years I was in & out of the hospital, up-and-down with fluid retention, living on oxygen, wheelchair bound and continued heart weakness amongst other issues. Eventually on 07/09/12 I became extremely exhausted & my 2 young adult kids noticed something was wrong and called 911 & their dad. I was taken off work until I received a new heart. Only to confirm what I thought, one of the chemo meds caused all of this "MESS" by the end of 2013 I was placed at the top of The heart transplant list at Cedars-Sinai in Beverly Hills Ca. and immediately admitted for monitoring until A matching heart was found. Through all of this I survived thru the Grace of God, my family & close friends who supported me I made it through breast cancer, heart problems and a successful heart transplant on 01/19/14. I just celebrated 8 years cancer free & 1 year with my new heart. I Found my lump myself at 35 & cancer does not run in my family. I was BLESSED to have my HUSBAND, FAMILY & FRIENDS Support because they never left my side. I continue to have lifelong challenges due to the side effects of my meds from the breast cancer and having to take life-sustaining meds for my new heart. But! through it all I SURVIVED!

Rancho Cucamonga, CA

Cancer Taught Me that I Needed to Learn How to Live

I had posted this last year but one of my friends who I met on this site asked me to repost, I hope that's ok.

In November of 2012, in the midst of a brutal divorce. I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I went through three surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation. This has been the most challenging three years of my life, I have felt heart-wrenching lows, but also moments that were pure, unadulterated joy. Through the fire and pain I have a new awareness of who I am, and I can honestly say I love myself. Pretty amazing, I am a forty nine year old breast cancer survivor, newly divorced, facing financial hardship, starting over in almost every conceivable way and I think I am incredible. Even more surprising despite all the stress, I am happy.

This has been a roller coaster ride, but I have held on tight to my faith, laughed, loved , cried a little and grown into the women I was always meant to be.

My journey has taught me life is how you interpret it. I can look at the devastating losses I've experienced or I can look at the cancer and divorce as my chance to start over, to recreate myself; my second chance to live.

I see myself as the mythical Phoenix, rising from the ashes. I am scarred from the fire, but I am radiant and more beautiful than ever before. I am also more powerful.

It isn't easy to get to this moment of metamorphosis. It is scary and painful to let your old self burn in the flames. I have been consumed by fear. I have felt anger for my losses. Countless things that breast cancer robs you of, security, your feminine identity your identity as a healthy person. I have found that this journey has been about learning. The cancer in a strange way was also about healing my life and my spirit. It is ironic, that it took facing my death, to teach me that I needed to learn how to live.

Tammy Garza
Kenosha, WI
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