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Carol's Courage

My sister, Carol, in November 2013 found a marble sized lump in her right breast. She went to have a mammogram 2 weeks before Thanksgiving. The doctor urged her to have a needle biopsy the next week. We waited for nearly 2 weeks and called the doctor back. The news was cancer.

She then saw a breast surgeon in December. She went for tests and was determined to have Stage 2B invasive ductal carcinoma HER2+.

She began chemotherapy in 3/14 with the TCH (taxol, carboplatin, herceptin) of 6 rounds prior to surgery chemo. She will be on herceptin for an entire year. She will be having a double mastectomy after her body heals from the chemotherapy. She became very weak and ill after the first 3 chemotherapies and barely could eat or drink. She lost nearly 30 pounds in just 8 weeks. She became so ill that she ended up in the hospital after the fourth chemotherapy because of low white blood counts. She began to realize that she needed to at least try to eat and has gained weight since.

She will have her final chemotherapy this next week. Her surgery will be within 6 to 8 weeks depending on her recovery from chemo.

Carol is a special lady. She is a gentle soul. Carol has a mental disability with agoraphobia. She is unable to leave her apartment without the help of family. She has been strong but the anxiety from her panic disorder has complicated the process. She is unable to drive so I take her and my other sister to the doctor and other transportation needs.

She has kept a good attitude despite all of her challenges.

Carol lives on social security disability but some financial needs with getting a new apartment soon.

Carol is a warrior and I believe that with her faith and the support of her family that she will be a SURVIVOR!

If you would like to help Carol. There is a fund at gofundme/carol'sbreastcareneeds.

Living with cancer is a battle of it's own. Living with agrophobia and cancer very challenging.

Pat Grosse
Elyria, OH

Being told I have breast cancer

In April I had my mammogram,two days later they called me to tell me the doctor there that read the views said I needed to come back in for more views and an ultrasound because he saw something in my right breast that had never been there before. They had me back in there two days later which was a Friday,after the ultrasound was completed the technician said my doctor would have the report in three days. Imagine my feeling of being scared when my doctors office called the following Monday morning at 8:30 before their office was even opened to tell me that my doctor needed me to come in for a follow up and can I be there at 10:00. I knew then it was going to be bad news. When my doctor came into the room to go over the results the first thing he said was,it just breaks my heart to have to tell you this but the results are positive for breast cancer. He then said I am sending you to a surgeon. He promised me that he was not going to just turn me over to all the other doctors necessary for this but that he would be there for me every step of the way. The following week I met with the surgeon and he confirmed it,he said there was no need for a biopsy as he knows the radiologist that did the report and it was bad. He said it was a very fast growing and aggressive cancer. He said I didn't have time to play around that this needed to be removed within the next week. One week and two days later I had a double mastectomy and all 21 lymph nodes and all 7 lymph nodes down the middle were involved and had to be removed. Last week I had my first chemo treatment which has to be strong and aggressive because of the type of breast cancer I had. I now know that I have to learn how to be strong through this as I still have 8 more.

Kim Moeller
Vero Beach, FL

ANSWER TO PRAYER

Four years ago this past February, I head an angel whisper while at work, “Get your mammogram.” As I put the key in the front door lock that evening, I again heard the angel whisper, “Get your mammogram.” I dropped my bags in the open doorway and went to my den to retrieve my 9-MONTH OVERDUE mammogram order. I called the breast center the next day and received an appointment for that Thursday, which was my birthday.

The following Monday at work, the breast center called, asking me to come in to repeat my mammogram. I went in on my lunch hour; had a repeat mammogram, which turned into two ultrasounds and three needle biopsies—a long lunch hour! Two days later, I had my diagnosis--stage I invasive ductal carcinoma. A lumpectomy was two weeks later, followed by 6 chemos, 33 radiation treatments, and 1 year of Herceptin infusions. I am on a 5 to 10-year estrogen blocker.

During radiation, in answer to prayer, I was led and blessed to start The Sparkle Caps Project. Our goal is to empower and uplift women with all types of cancer, letting them know that they are HOT CHICKS, in spite of their hair loss; that their femininity is not tied to their hair; and to have positive attitudes, because that is part of the battle.

The cancer journey is not an easy one. It is unique to each one of us. I pray that you each will find your blessings on this unasked for journey, as have I, Susan “Victorious” - Victorious over cancer! Victorious in God!

Susan "Victorious" Heimbigner
Sumter, SC

Bald and Beautiful at 24!

Hearing the news that the pathology report tested positive for Stage 2 Invasive Ductal Carcinoma Breast Cancer was not a surprise to me. At a very young age I watched one of my favorite Aunts suffer and lose the battle against Breast Cancer. Since then there was always a fear growing inside of me that I would face the same battle. It was almost as if I felt cursed or pre-destined to go down this road. But just like anyone who ever experienced the first time uttering the words to themselves, "I have Cancer" the tears began to fall. I decided that was the first and last day I would ever shed a tear over my diagnosis.

I wanted to find away to make this battle worth it, by making a difference, by becoming an inspiration to others. I decided to take the worry out of everything. I stopped worrying about chemo, losing my hair, not surviving or even losing a breast. Those things no longer mattered to me, they no longer scared me. What scared me the most, was missing my opportunity to turn this into something beautiful.

God only chooses his strongest warriors to endure the worst and for that reason I am looking forward to this battle. There is a reason God chose me to take on this battle and I don't want to waste any time as I try to discover why.

I am currently in the mist of my chemotherapy treatment and I am embracing and loving this bald head of mine. I use to be a person wrapped up in hair. I use to be jealous of girls with long beautiful hair. But now, I feel beautiful without having to spend $100s on weaves and being jealous of other women is a thing of the past. I am beautiful just the way I am. I am not my hair. And my hair does make me beautiful. What shows on the inside makes a person beautiful and I believe and feel that now. 

My little bald head and my never ending smile tells my story!

Marqui McPherson
Murrieta, CA

More of a question than a story

How many of you that have been dx-ed with BC have taken infertility drugs and/or IVF to conceive? I'm convinced there's a connection...I'm 37 and have stage 3A.

Allison Spina
New Hyde Park, NY

My story

I was diagnosed with Stage 2a Triple Negative breast cancer on May 28th, 2014. I am a 41 year old woman with a incredible family and a new beautiful grandson. I am also a competitive athlete that loves motivating others to be the best they can be. I begin chemotherapy in two weeks followed by radiation, I already had my surgery. I feel so positive through all of this, I feel it has been a wake up call in many ways - yes I have moments of fear but then I am reminded of the strength of the human spirit and Gods healing - it is very real. I am confident I will be healed and better than ever. Keep the positive attitude and take great care of yourself - and eat well. One of the most difficult parts of all this is that it stops you in your tracks and rocks your world. It is a blink of an eye in the big scheme of things, I believe. I have a fundraiser in place to help with finances through all of this on GoFundMe.com under: Melissa Howard. If anyone feels compelled, I thank you so very much in advance. We have to all support each other and motivate one another to just put one foot in front of the other till the end of the journey, and we will be back to health and better than ever! Keep the faith!

Melissa Howard
Honolulu, HI

Better not Bitter!

I received my breast cancer diagnosis in January and after going through the normal emotions, I decided I would be “better not bitter” and haven’t looked back since!

I had my chemotherapy treatments first. The night before my last chemo, my partner (who is amazing!) and I went out with a group of friends (family!) for our monthly get-together. I knew something was up when I saw a lot of pink being worn…well then the pink boas came out! “Dessert back at the house” was actually a surprise last chemo party! There was pink everywhere, a cake with “better not bitter” on it, gifts, etc. and then the beauty of the sky lanterns. In my friend’s words,

“There was a great joy in sending our desires upward. I believe we were all awestruck by the beauty of our love and support rising into the heavens for her. As we were about to light our last lantern, we noticed a hole at the top, and the fuel square sat funny on the support. We were unconvinced at first of whether it would be able to fill with enough hot air, be we wanted to try anyway. Skeptically, we ignited the fuel, but the lopsided support quickly burned the side, damaging it further. Putting out the fire at the side of the lantern, we were more determined than ever…it’s the last one…it has to go! We all said words of encouragement, believing its possibilities. Against all odds, the beautiful pink damaged lantern, slowly but successfully, rose into the night air!”

I found it quite symbolic. Even if you are bruised and battered, you can never give up. I hope than anyone receiving a cancer diagnosis, can find the love, laughter and positivity that I continue to find on my journey!

Nancy Rochford
Roselle Park, NJ

My Journey

October 2012. Started like any other day had a day off with not much to do. That all changed when I had a wash. Felt a lump in my right breast, thought "I've got a day off I'll go and get it checked. Made an appointment , same day referred to local hospital,4 days later , had physical exam plus, ultrasound and mammogram ...then the bombshell "we are almost certain it's cancer" words cannot really describe how it hits you. I had right mastectomy , failed implant, chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Went back to work five weeks later,after nine nearly ten months off struggled ++++ with tiredness, again you can't appreciate this tiredness unless you have been there , because it's beyond tiredness , exhaustion like you are dragging yourself about. 1 clear mammogram to date . I keep praying that all will continue to be well but one never knows it certainly gives a very different slant on life.

Cathy McCarthy
Kettering, Northants, United Kingdom

I am lucky and very blessed

I was diagnosed with double breast cancer on 8/8/2012. I was shocked to say the least. 2 people I knew had monograms and I thought to myself when was the last time I had one. I did not realize I needed a referral and was ready to tell the nurses that I would reschedule. God must have been watching me that day. A week later I went to have a biopsy. The doctor told me 80% of biopsy came back negative. Who thought I would be in the 20%.

I was scheduled to see the surgeon a few days later and brought my son and niece with me. The first thing the doctor said to me was this is curable. I don't think I heard much after that. My last day of work before the surgery, all my co-workers wore pink it my honor. It brought tears to my eyes.

I had the surgery, 8 rounds of chemo and radiation. I never lost my positive attitude because of the fantastic support group I had. I took the parts in pieces, surgery first not worrying about chemo and radiation.

The chemo was next I was able to work during this time, but the 6th round of chemo really started to take its toll on me. I wore hats to work to hide my bald head and everyone said the hats had character. I had the chemo mixture changed on the 4th round and kept saying to the doctor can we go back to the 1st mixture. I needed to go back on leave again. Chemo was over and now radiation. It is 22 months later and I am cancer free! I thank God every day. I am lucky because my support group was the best. My son was with me throughout my journey. My brother picks on me again, which is great. I told myself when looking at my bald hair that I would dye my hair red again because that would mean I'm okay. That promise to myself happened in June 2014.

Karen Cumming
Meriden, CT

Infinite Hope for Sandra

Diagnosed with Stage 4 Breast Cancer at the young age of 38, my wife has been winning this battle. After enduring chemotherapy, a bilateral mastectomy, removal of lymph nodes and now suffering through radiation, Our battle still continues and we are hopeful that she will emerge victorious. She is a brave, strong woman. An inspiration to all, especially me. We thank everyone for the love, support and encouragement we have received. We are faithful that God will help us, no matter what this journey brings our way.

Jason Frank
Brooklyn, OH
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