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July 2012 diagnosed with ILC, Stage 3. Followed with surgery, chemotherapy and radiation and more surgery. I am happy to now be 32 months CANCER FREE!!! Stay prayerful, stay positive, believe and remember to BREATHE.. I survived and became a stronger woman than I thought possible. LIFE IS GOOD, SO ENJOY IT TO THE FULLEST!!

Michele Litteken
Oakville, MO

My diagnosis also led to my younger sister being diagnosed.

I went in for my yearly OB-GYN appointment in June 2014. I was 36 at the time. She had told me to get a baseline mammogram done last year at my visit, but life got in the way, and I just didn't do it. This time I promised her I would do it. My mammogram was in July. I was called back a few days later saying they wanted me to come in for additional pictures. I was not afraid, because I had been told years before I had dense breast tissue, and they mentioned it was more than likely just that. When I had the diagnostic mammogram taken, they immediately scheduled me for a biopsy of my left side. I was supposed to get a call with the results of the biopsy. The night of August 26th I realized they hadn't called, but I wasn't worried. However, the next morning, the morning of my oldest son's 14th birthday, my OB-GYN herself called me. As soon as I heard her voice, I knew I was in trouble. She said I was DCIS stage 0...essentially catching it extremely early. After my BRCA2 test came back inconclusive however, I was adamant about getting a double mastectomy, I just didn't want to go through this again later in life, and felt in my heart this was the best way. During the mastectomy they would also do the lymph node biopsy. That is when they found that the cancer had spread, and I was actually Stage 2 with a very aggressive strain. My little sister was then tested at age 34, and also diagnosed with DCIS stage 0. She also had a double, and thankfully no other cancer was found. I am going through chemo and then radiation now, and am very confident I will be cancer free when all of this is done. I am also blessed that my sister was diagnosed, because she would never had gone at age 34 for a mammogram had I not been diagnosed, so I am thankful for my diagnosis, because it helped my sister too.

Brooke Dalton
Maumee, OH

my breast cancer story

I was 26 years old when I found out that I had the brca1 gene. I remember being devastated as if someone had just told me I had cancer. My breast surgeon and oncologist tried to convince me to have a double mastectomy to reduce my chances of getting cancer but I was very hopeful that I would be that small percentage to never get cancer. December 25, 2014 I started getting a lot of pain in my left breast. It was so bad I had to take a pain pill. I started to worry but people told me to relax cause cancer isn't painful so it's probably something else causing the pain. I had a mammogram February 2015 which showed I had no cancer. I felt so much relief considering I was worried about the pain I had felt. I met with my oncologist a week later for a routine check up and her intern examined me first, I could tell by her reaction she felt something. My oncologist told me I have dense breast and sometimes my tissue will feel harder. Since she could see I was still nervous she sent me for a breast sonogram. The sonongram did show something, where the mammogram did not. I wound up needing a biopsy. The very next day after my biopsy I was told to come in. I knew walking into the office it wasn't going to be good news. Sure enough at the age of 28 I was diagnosed with invasive ductal cancer and triple negative cancer. There are no words to describe exactly how getting news like that feels. I was in denial, I made jokes, I cried. I didn't know how to react or believe this was happening to me. Since I got my results I have started the egg rescuing process to save my eggs before my double mastectomy and chemo. I just thank god that I was lucky enough to catch my cancer so early. And that I didn't just accept the mammo results, I followed my gut, because I knew something was wrong.

staten island, NY

I am a Survivor

It was April 2002, on holiday with my common-law husband of 20 years. I rolled over in bed one night and got a pain in my right breast very close to my arm pit. I reached over and felt a lump that seemed awful large considering I hadn't felt it before. We arrived home 4 days later and I called my doctor. I had had my first mammogram in December 2001 and another in January including an ultra-sound as I had a couple of moles on the right breast. I figured if the lump was serious it should have shown up then but it hadn't. My doctor sent me immediately for a biopsy and told me because it was painful it probably wasn't cancer. 3 days later, I was told it was cancer and that he operated regularly with the best breast surgeon in the city and maybe the country and he would speak to him for me. 3 weeks later I had the surgery. Everything seemed to be moving very fast. While recovering from the lumpectomy, which my surgeon said was all that was necessary, I went through multiple tests to ensure that none of the cancer was anywhere else. Luckily I was clean but my surgeon insisted I go through chemo and radiation. I call 2002 the year from hell. In August I started chemo and worked between treatments. Many of my co-workers and company owners told me how strong they thought I was and this made me feel stronger. It is now the spring of 2015. The cancer has never returned. My common-law husband wasn't as lucky and I lost him to cancer in 2005 but life goes on. God took care of me and must have a plan for me yet. I thank him every day that I get to watch my granddaughter become a woman and my grandson be born and is growing into a very happy 4 year old. I am 60 years old and enjoying the life I have. Always have hope, even when you are sick and exhausted from the treatments.

Stittsville, ON, Canada


August of 2012 was going very badly and I couldn't wait till it was over, September had to be better.

Early in August I surgery on my spinal cord. Two weeks later I was back in the hospital, having to lie flat on my back, due to a cerebral spinal fluid leak. After a week, I was released and I couldn't wait to get home and take a shower!

The first shower was heavenly until I felt a lump in my right breast. This couldn't really be anything, I reasoned, except an inflammed cyst. I decided to monitor it, I just knew it would disappear.

By the end of October, I had to face the fact that the lump was still there. It was time to get it checked, no more denial!

Dr. appointment, ultrasound, biopsy, diagnosis: CANCER! Deep down I already knew but hearing the words brought the abstract into reality.

Surgery had to wait, the cancer was extremely aggressive and there were two lumps, not just one, to contend with. Chemotherapy was started in January of 2013 followed by a double mastectomy and reconstruction.

I realize how foolish I was to have waited and how lucky I am that my outcome was a positive one, because I have a strong family history of breast cancer.

Early detection and treatment is the only way to go!

Marilyn Wittenburg
Worthington, OH

There is Always Hope

I’m sure I’ve read a thousand breast cancer stories by now. Each one sheds new light on some part of the journey giving us, as breast cancer survivors, something to hope for. Hope is the best medicine of all, I’ve found.

On June 17, 2008, I was diagnosed with stage 1, ductal carcinoma, triple-negative breast cancer. I was only 42 years old. I had just gone through the worst possible event in a mother’s life when I lost my infant son to leukemia. How could this be happening? The hardest part for me was finding the words to tell my children that their mother had cancer. I could see the fear fill their eyes. They certainly knew the probabilities. They had already seen it first hand with their brother.

I opted for a bi-lateral mastectomy and an aggressive chemotherapy regimen. Those six months of treatment were taxing. I can’t say it was the hardest thing I’ve ever done nor was it as bad as I had expected.

At this point, I am over six years post diagnosis. I am doing well. I have to work at keeping the fear of recurrence at bay. I volunteer some of my time to help other newly diagnosed women begin to navigate the journey. I try to stay positive and enjoy my life as a thriving survivor. I do not waste my time on the negative in the world but instead use each of my days as gifts. These events have taught me that there is so much good in this world, we just have to look for it. Sometimes its buried under so much negative that its hard to see…but it is there.

This year, I lost an aunt to the same dreaded disease. She was my mentor, my friend and a strong woman who I loved dearly. Her death hit me pretty hard. I pray for a day when cancers of all types are eradicated from our population; a time when children and aunts can live without the threat of such an unfair disease. I long for a cure.

Lori Lee
Smithfield, NC

My Mother, My Angel

As my Mother was fighting for her life receiving treatment for small cell lung cancer, I noticed a lump in my right breast. Knowing how Cancer has run rampant throughout my family, I was concerned. Although no one has had breast cancer, there were many other cancer diagnoses through the years. I immediately went for a routine mammography along with my sister. We first received the call that Mom's cancer had spread into her lymph nodes. Then both my sister and I had something suspicious on our mammograms and needed additional testing. I am so thankful to God that my sister's came out benign but mine was definitely Breast Cancer. I followed up with all necessary testing and scheduled for a Lumpectomy. I was diagnosed with stage 2b Invasive Ductal Carcinoma, aggressive grade 3 with an Onco type score of 30. 7 days after my lumpectomy my Mom was given her Angel Wings and taken home to heaven to live pain free. I cannot explain how I did it, after losing my Mom, my best friend and person who gave me strength and stood by me throughout my life... I made it through 16 rounds of chemotherapy and 33 radiation treatments. I kept my head held high and remained positive throughout my entire treatment. You see, I have a 10 year old Juvenile Diabetic Son, I am a single, full time working Mom and my son is my life, my heart, my everything. I refused to allow him to see me sick. He just lost his grandma and watched her sick. I wouldn't do that to him. I worked through and completed my entire treatment and have never looked back. I pray for every person whose life is touched by breast cancer or any other cancer and continue to remain positive that I will be free, healed and cured... I am a survivor and I am Thankful to God everyday for all the blessings he has given to me ♥ I love and miss my Mom and I know she is proud of the woman I have become.

Dawn Laveroni
Franklin Square, NY

40 thbday

I found a lump on my breast on my 4th of course I had a doctors appointment with my primary doctor about something totally different.went in and told her about the lump she sent me for a mammogram and ultra came back positive.i have invasive duct all carcinoma stage 2b.they did 3bioposies.when they told me at first I was in shock and didn't want to do a thing about it.then I decided to do chemo and I still doing chemo.did a ultra sound today and has shrunk a bit and has not spread at all.i still work 2jobs and go to chemo which I keep going.i push myself so I don't think about it.thats my story for now.

Tammy cruickshanks
granby, CT

The whole family is in this fight

My mom and I had never really thought or talked about getting cancer. That changed dramatically in October 2013. My parents, who live in Germany, told me that my mom got diagnosed with stage IV ovarian cancer and that extensive surgery and a chemotherapy would be necessary. I was in shock and felt terrible because I lived far away in Boston and couldn't be there to support her. My mom made her way through surgery and chemo with boldness and bravery, but that Christmas of 2013 was tough for the whole family. The surgery had left my mom weak and faint, but over the next couple of months, she regained her strengths and was on her way to recovery. My parents went on vacation, they visited family and friends and made plans. Until another exam in between chemos revealed that the cancer had spread to the lungs. Things became more and more serious, the weeks went by in a blur. In October 2014 I decided to come home for Christmas earlier. A few days before the flight from Boston to Berlin I felt something in my left breast. I felt it clear and distinct, the size of a hazlenut. I wasn't too worried, given all the other fears and concerns that occupied my mind, and I was only 28, after all. I had scheduled an appointment with my gynecologist in Germany anyways, so I decided to save any other thoughts on that for later. A week and a half after that appointent I knew I have breast cancer. Another couple of weeks later, the day of the 4th wedding anniversary with my husband, I had my first surgery of the lymphnodes (all clean!), then the first rounds of chemo. I am now more than halfway through my chemo and I will undergo a double mastectomy in June because I have the BRCA1 mutation. I know that my family is strong because we would not be where we are now if it wasn't for the love and support, the comfort and encouragement that we have for each other.

Cambridge, MA


My son, Henry, 2 yo, was born with the rare Prune Belly Syndrome & Chronic Kidney Disease.

By April 2014, Henry was doing great and we could extend blood tests. Then, the unthinkable happened. Two days later, I found a lump in my breast and was diagnosed with breast cancer a few weeks later. I had surgery to remove the cancer and lymphnodes. It was a grade 3 cancer. Luckily I caught it early. We were devastated and until I recovered from surgery, I couldn’t even lift my baby.

In August Henry had surgery. There were complications and 2 days later he was transferred to the NPICU. It was very dangerous for me to be in the hospital because of my low white blood cells and risk of infection, but there was no way I was going to be away from my son.

As the months went on, I carried on with my chemo.

Early in November Henry was admitted to the hospital again. And again, it was very dangerous for me to be with him, and I was not allowed to hold him. I had only one chemo session remaining and I needed to stay infection free. He was discharged after 17 days - a birthday I will never forget. His kidney was removed in December.

I started my radiotherapy at the end of December for 4 weeks every day. Although the most aggressive part of the treatment for my breast cancer is complete, I still have to continue other treatment every three weeks. At one of my last appointments, I expressed my recent increase in numbness and tingling in my arm, hand and foot. The doctor wanted me to get a CT of my brain. Needless to say I was completely distraught. To my great relief the scan was clear. Three weeks later, I had my torso scan and it was clear too - I am cancer free!

Last year Henry went through 5 surgeries, some life threatening, and only left his side because of my own surgeries, chemo treatment and radiotherapy.

Lorinda Mamo
San Gwann, Malta
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