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To Cancer and Back

It was Monday, August 4th, and I woke up to a sharp, stabbing pain running from my right collar bone through my right breast. Every 5-7 minutes I would feel the pain.

I thought I was too busy to call the doctor. I had been too busy to call the doctor for two years. I shamefully admit that I missed my “yearly” last year. I’m sure I had an important reason like, you know, a Netflix marathon.

In any case, it is unlike me to call a doctor. But, it was like someone was ringing a fire alarm in my head. I didn’t just have the urge to call, I couldn’t get my hand to the phone fast enough.

The doctor could feel an “area.” In fact, she furrowed her brows and said, “that’s like 6 centimeters.” She went on to reassure me that pain doesn’t usually mean cancer, but we should do a mammogram. I also had an ultrasound and biopsy.

And so, on August 20, I was sitting in an outpatient imaging center with a stone-faced radiologist and a pensive nurse. The radiologist began, “We can’t find any sign of lumps, masses or tumor in the area that brought you to us. There is no evidence of fat necrosis.”

I let all of my breath out.

“But,…”

I sucked all of my breath back in.

“We found some micro-calcifications that are undetectable by touch and have to be found via mammogram. We did your biopsy because there were so many of these calcifications. In fact, they fill up a large part of your whole breast. The biopsy results have determined that these are malignant. They are cancer.”

The surgeon recommended a total mastectomy.

On October 8, 2014, I fell asleep at the hospital and woke up with two very large scars.

And so, in a matter of 73 days, I had cancer, I fought cancer, and I am today, cancer free.

Insert smiley emoticon!

Kimberly Miller
Bluffton, OH

My daughter and I beat breast cancer together!

Early in 2013 after having a normal, scheduled mammogram I was diagnosed with DCIS (Ductal Carcinoma In Site). 1 week after my surgery to remove the tumor, my youngest daughter Cheri (33 years old) was diagnosed with Invasive Ductal Carcinoma stage 3. Cheri's boys were 3 and 5 years old at the time and we have no history of cancer in our family.

Cheri had a total mastectomy including lymph nodes on her left side. Then chemo, she lost her hair and each time it made her extremely sick. I was working, going thru radiation treatments 5 days a week and doing what I could to help Cheri and her family. Watching her boys while mommy was in the hospital or too sick to get out of bed, bringing meals for all, trying to calm their worries and fears was especially hard. 3 and 5 year olds aren't suppose to have worries like this. When chemo ended, Cheri's Oncologist told her she had a couple of dark spots on her right breast they were going to watch. "Take it off" Cheri said, and they scheduled surgery to remove her right breast. She has completed her radiation and will start reconstructive surgery in 2015.

We are both cancer free and would not be here without great medical care and the love and support of family and friends. My daughters Cyndi and Carynna and granddaughter Sage helped many times with child care, cleaning, meals and being there as a friend, nurse, great sisters and Aunties. Food and support from many family members and friends was so needed and appreciated. We both appreciate life more and are so relieved that the nightmare is over. We have participated in the "I Believe" walk held in Redlands, CA for the last 2 years and plan to be survivors for many years. This is a recent picture of Cheri and her boys who are 4 and 6 and so happy to have their mom happy and well.

Diane Garrett
Redlands, CA

left very depressed

This terrible ordeal started 6 years ago. Went in to have a masectomy. They did a so called tram flap.It didn't work after cutting me from one side clear over to the other side of my waist. Had second masectomy couple of months later. Sent to a Dr. who supposedly did reconstruction. After approximately 15 surgeries for reconstruction they left me all scarred up and deformed on my chest not to speak of my waist all butchered up. The last time I saw the Dr. he told me he was/done with me because he didn't know what else to do with me considering all those surgeries did not work. That was that. For over 2 years I have lived with absolutely no breasts and a butchered up waist. I look absolutely terrible. I am so embarrassed the way I look its awful. This has just about ruined my life. My husband and daughter say its OK your alive. Nobody will ever know how very blessed I am to be here. I thank God every day. In my mind I do not look anything like a woman should look. That has all been taken away from me. I am normally a very happy go lucky girl. I love making people laugh. But this has changed my life completely. Every night when I take my fake breasts off I have to look at this. I shed a lot of tears quite frequently. Maybe I shouldn't feel like this but I can't help it. All I want is to look like a real woman again. I'm not a quitter,I keep hoping one day I might find me a Dr. that might be able to help me. I say a lot of prayers. All I can do is just hope for a miracle. When you hear about all these women that gets reconstruction, It makes me so sad that I'm not one of them. Maybe Someday!

,

Tammy Love-Everett
FAIRMOUNT, IN

My story

It all began on one early Friday morning at 6:45 am. I was scheduled for a routine mammogram because I was feeling a throbbing pain on my left breast when I would lay down on my side and when showering. I had a gut feeling something was wrong. The nurse had to call my doctor and request a prescription for an ultrasound . It was 130 in the afternoon and they called me to a consult room with manequin heads with wigs. I froze. I waited patiently for the doctor to come in to give me the bad news. I had ductal carcinoma on my right breast . My world fell apart . I became numb until the day came January 24 where I chose to be proactive and had a bilateral mastectomy. They tried to spare the nipple and the aureola but was called three days later to let me know it was not going to work because the pathology report showed it was on my nipple as well. When in to take care of that and then a few days later was called again because the new pathology report showed I had it also on my chest wall. Well to make a long story short I visited the cancer treatment centers of America thanks to my sister who was determined to put all our minds at ease. It's now October and now I have implants and nipples. I'm finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel ,

Ary Barreto
Hollywood, FL

Fighting with faith, hope and grace

October 22nd, 2013 my world changed forever. Breast cancer never entered my mind as something I would ever have to face as there really was no one in my immediate family that had ever been through it. And here it was...staring me in the face. When I had my biopsy on the 18th the Doctor said it appeared to be DCIS which I was prepared for. What I wasn't prepared for was the call on the 22nd that informed me it was both DCIS and IDC. Now the fight was on. All my tests at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN were very positive, it appeared there wasn't any lymph node involvement, but when it came time for the actual surgery, we found there were 12/30 involved. Now the fight was REALLY on!

I'm a single parent of two amazing kids. I was surround by the most incredible support system of family and friends. They held me up when all I wanted to do was pull the covers over my head and cry. They nourished my body and soul. They made me laugh. They made me smile...but more than anything in the world, they made me realize how beautiful and precious life is and that I would do anything in my power to be there for them.

Chemo and radiation were tough, but I managed to still work through it all. Having an employer who supported me in so many ways was just one of the other blessings that I had.

I lost a lot of things this past year....my health, my hair, my breast, my belief that this would never happen to me....but what I gained was so much more. I appreciate the simple things now, the beauty of just waking up each day, the sound of laughter, love, good friends, family and faith. I am cancer free today, and that is a blessing. My group of beautiful breast cancer surviving ladies has a saying we all go by and that is "I choose to not worry about tomorrow because it robs me of being present and enjoying today".

Michelle Schmidt
Minot, ND

Early Detection!!!

In October 2008 (on Halloween day no less), I had my first base line mammogram. I was 37yrs old and had been begging for a mammogram since I was 35yrs old. My mother had breast cancer so I was uneasy. Ten days later, I was called to come back in for a second mammogram. During the second mammogram, the nurse told me that I needed a biopsy. Two weeks later I had a biopsy, which I remember as being scary & painful. The doctor went out to the waiting room and told my sister that I had breast cancer. My sister didn't say a word, she waited for the test results to come back and for the doctor to tell me. I immediately met with a surgeon, who was kind enough to see me on Christmas Eve day. My surgery was scheduled for January 11, 2009. I had stage 0 ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS). My cancer was confined to duct and had not spread to healthy breast tissue. I had a partial mastectomy (this is how my doctor referred to it because of the area they had to remove 4cm x 5cm x 6cm) and four lymph glands removed. I started radiation treatments six weeks after my surgery. I had radiation everyday for six weeks. This was a precautionary measure because everyone from my surgeon to my radiation oncologist kept saying that thanks to early detection, after surgery I was considered "cured". I learned that early detection saves lives. I turned down Tamoxifin because I wanted to have children. Three years after my surgery, I gave birth to a beautiful boy. Fight for your right to have a mammogram. Fight for your right to be a warrior and survivor!

Nicole Jaunal Jackson
Houston, TX

But I'm only 34????

I am diagnosised with Ductal Carcinoma. I have no family history and I'm 34. a few months ago, I gave myself a breast exam and was shocked to discover a lump. Having BC for me came with A LOT of complications. I am on a very powerful medication which I can not take during surgery, that has to be regulated constantly before and after surgery. I've had 2 surgeries, so far and it's been a total mess. I'm having a bilateral masectomy in November, and all of the complications are extremely overwhelming. I also have mental illnesses, which has been creeping back up on me. Its very frusterating because I know I must take my antipsychotic's, however I am positive that taking it since for almost 20 years is the reason I even have BC! The meds make my prolactin level around 100, the equivalent to a women who is pregnant (I have never had kids)! But thru all of these problems, I've realized how lucky I am... I'm a smoker... I have to quit it I want reconstructive surgery. I believe a God gave me BC in order to save me from dying of lung cancer. God is letting me know, I need to take care of myself!

I honestly have the most supportive family and friends who ever lived! To say my husband is the most supportive and caring man a girl could have would be an understatement! My parents and my sister, would do ABSOLUTLY anything for me, I have amazing aunts and uncles who are constantly sending me cards and gifts full of prayers and messages of love. I have friends who send me their daily prayers... I know I'm blessed because I have an Army of loved ones fighting by my side!

Shannon Pingston
Hillsdale, MI

WHY ME WHY NOT

IT all started March 2009 me and gp new straight away cut a long story short by april i was on chemo 7cm lump and lymph nodes affected after chemo i had mastectomy then cooked like turkey ready for Christmas 2009 pmsl.

i was on tamoxifen life continue 2010.

then march 2011 my son died aged 29 gutted heart broken.

2012 had reconstruction DIEP large scar from hip to hip but worth it.

2013 just a day case op to lift up good booby and tidy other loved the finish so here comes 2014.

yes come on april jumping up and down 5 years cancer free i said to my oncologist under study so you don't need to see me and she said no but when reporting back to the main man my fantastic oncologist he said no she don't get away that quick so another appointment to see him that was

august 2014

he asked how i have been told him i had pain in my hip which i said due to old age lol and said i have had a x-ray on my hip two weeks previous which was clear

he still wanted ct scan and bone scan but truth in side i new something wasn't right anyway went back for results september and my oncologist looked sad i new it before going into that room it was back well here we go again my ct scan clear but bone scan showed spine hip pelvic so on effected i felt sorry for my oncologist so now i have a palliative nurse bone strengthening injection hormone tabs i don't no how long i have but does anyone i can at least put my affairs in order i can do things that we all put off for another day i can appreciate each day and i can say UP YOURS CANCER i am a very strong person we are all born to die im not sad im not angry and to be honest i was not surprised it came back

DEBBIE
liverpool, United Kingdom

Breast Cancer at 30?!

I was diagnosed with breast cancer on April 8th. I have already met with most of my 'cancer team' physicians and I feel completely confident in their commitment to my care. I have already undergone several diagnostic tests and still have more to do. Thus far, I have gone through 20 weeks of chemotherapy. The first round was eight weeks and probably the most difficult thing I've done so far. Now having said that, I am scheduled for a double Masectomy with reconstruction this Wednesday, October 22 of 2014. My treatment will then be followed with radiation and I have found out that I am BRCA2 positive and will need to have my ovaries removed as well. I have full faith in my entire team, but won't lie, I am terrified.

Ryan Marie
Ashburn, VA

I may have lost my pretty hair but I still have my beautiful life

Sharing my story helps the healing process. Although my journey has just begun, I will survive and so will you. Having a positive attitude is extremely important. It would be so easy to just sit and think, "poor me", but that will not change the fact that I'm fighting for my life. By thinking positive, it helps me realize that this is just a small moment in my life and I can get threw this. I'm 32 & in April 2014 I noticed by bra bugging me. I didn't think anything of it. In May my husband and I moved to another state, still not a worry crossed my mind. In June my left breast felt sore for a couple days and I figured it was nothing. June 9th I was thinking about how I needed to find a doctor in this new state so I could refill my birth control meds. I remembered how they always ask if you do your monthly breast exams and I always have to say no, so I figured this time I would check before hand so I could say I've checked. I lifted my left arm and immediately felt the lump. Two words came out of my mouth which I cannot write. I felt my right breast hoping it would feel the same meaning it wouldn't mean anything, but nothing was there. I felt the left one again and started to cry. I knew it was cancer. It was 2x3 inches and doubled in size that next week. After many doctor visits &test it was determined I have invasive ductal breast cancer stage 3 negative 3. I have the brac 1 gene. The plan is 16 chemo treatments, then a double mastectomy (&ovaries out), radiation. I'm currently doing chemo.12 down 4 more to go. I thank God &my family for carrying me through this. Things don't just happen, I'm slowly seeing the pieces God has put together.I know I moved to this new state for these doctors who can help my individual needs.Never give up ! I can't wait to be a survivor.

courtney woods
McCalla, AL
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