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MY 5th ANNIVERSARY

TODAY (Feb. 24th) is the 5th anniversary of the removal of the breast cancer from my body through a lumpectomy. For me, this is the date I became a survivor, even though one needs to go into survivorship mode on the date of diagnosis. A positive attitude is a part of the battle; a reliance on God is a huge part of the battle; family and friends are an integral part of the support team. Be a survivor! Be a caregiver! Be a supportive family member, friend, co-worker, neighbor, church!

Susan "Victorious" Heimbigner
Sumter, SC

My Story

October... A month filled with pink ribbons everywhere, pink night at the rodeo, at football games, so on and so forth. All this for breast cancer awareness month. On October 5, I had my annual check up. The doctor asked "Have you been doing your self exams?" I told her actually I had forgotten since my hysterectomy because I don't get that monthly reminder, so she let me feel what she felt. It was a lump about the size of a quarter. She assured me there was no reason to worry because she was sure it was fibroadenoma caused when the hormone replacement therapy produces too much estrogen and causes a growth. So I was scheduled to go to the hospital for a mammogram and ultrasound. The radiologist came in and talked to my husband and me and showed us the measurements and explained that it does not have the shadow cancer cast, therefore he was sure it was just fibroadenoma but that it definitely had to be removed. The next step was to go see the surgeon. The surgeon said "See how the lump has rounded edges and moves around that's fibroadenoma." He then explained that there was less than 20% chance that it was cancer but the lump still needed to come out and that worst-case scenario if it was cancer I would just need a little radiation and all would be good.

On November 5, just five days before my 39th birthday, I went in for the lumpectomy. A simple procedure, they were just supposed to make a small incision and pop it out. Two hours later the surgeon came out and informed my husband that they were wrong and it was indeed cancer. November 12, I had another procedure to check lymph nodes and get a port so I could begin chemotherapy.

After testing it was determined that I have stage 2 Triple Negative BRCA 1 positive breast cancer. I currently am undergoing chemo and will have a double Mastectomy mid-summer.

I continue to stay positive and am taking this journey one day at a time.

Kalina Hesskew
Seguin, TX

Survivor

I found a lump in the left breast in october2011..had inductal carcinoma.had surgery a lumpectomy nov.2011 then serious infection back in the hospital. Then July 2012 it came back..more surgery more infection.the doctor didn't get it all had more surgery in august. had several different drains at different times atleast 15 drains20 limphnodes were removed..did lots of chemo and radiation....needless to say my left breast is massacred...then nov.2012 I had a seizure and they found a 1.4 centimeter tumor on my motor band..had brain surgery and was partially paralyzed on my right side..I had to use a walker..more radiation..I lost my hair twice I had very long beautiful brown hair..but I looked good bald I didn't wear any wigs. I couldn't use my right side correctly for 3 months..and still have trouble on my right side..lots of pain still everywhere.especially in the breast and it is much smaller than my right. but here I am in 2015 and all tests have been clear for the past2 yrs..except for some small nodules in my lugs that have been decreasing.. I am so grateful to be here today..so thankful .God answered several of my prayers..I had faith and kept a positive attitude about it..I laughed a lot and was with friends..CANCER CAN BE BEAT.IM LIVING PROOF.🌹👣⛪️❤️Thank you for letting me share some of my story❤️Lynda Dewinde 45 yrs old..from Lancaster California.

Lynda Dewinde
Lancaster, CA

Mom & me journey

Mom went for mamo. Cancer was found. First surgery not well. Blue dye she was allergic to. ICU 4 2 days. 2nd surgery got all cancer. Nods no cancer. Now 33 radiation appointments...Prayers 4 no problems. So far Good things.

Anonymous
Grants Pass, OR

My Dog Saved My Life

I went in for a mammogram in early June (2013) and received an 'all clear'. In early November 2013, the dog (76lbs) jumped up and landed on my boobs. The following day I had a lump in my right breast. The following week I had another mammogram and was told 'I think you've got something here'. A biopsy was done that afternoon and I was advised to contact a surgeon. Four days later I received the cancer news (by that time I knew). A week after that (two days before Thanksgiving) I was given the news that I had a highly aggressive cancer and would need an immediate mastectomy. This was done the 5th of December 2013. In the 4 months between the clean and cancer mammograms, the tumor had grown to a size of a large walnut. I hadn't felt anything on self examinations. The doctors figure that it had been deeply planted and that the dog broke it loose so to speak. I was 48 years old. I'm now 50, and am a 1 year survivor!

I had 6 rounds of chemo (no radiation), with a full 52 weeks of Herceptin for HER2+ cancer.

I had been dating my boyfriend just over a year when I was diagnosed. Never once, did I worry that he'd leave me. And never once has he made me feel any less a woman. He's definitely seen me at my worst as it seems I had every known side effect to chemo. We are still together.

The first reconstructive surgery has been set for April 1, 2015. The date was my choice...I figure if I'm going to have a 'fake' boob, I might as well have the surgery done on April Fool's Day.

If I've learned anything in this process, it's that it helps to talk about it. The more I talked about it, the easier it became. Maybe it didn't bother me that much because I'm a MRKH Syndrome Warrior and have dealt with adversity before? My support group (my man and friends) have been a blessing in this journey!

Gabrielle
Gainesville, FL

Believe in LIFE and everything is possible!

I was 30 in 2011 when I felt there was something wrong with me...I went from doctor to doctor, they always said I was stressed only.

My "voice inside" said it was something more serious.

In 2008 I had a dream of a doctor telling me I had cancer in my left breast so I needed an immediate mastectomy...that time I went to have it checked but they did not find anything.

Anyway, I went to a mammogram again after finding a small nodule in my left breast.

After the scan and ultrasound they made a biopsy. My dream came true... A week later they told me I had cancer in my left breast! It seemed to be impossible...

I was in a half-year happy realtionship with my love that time (He is still beside me and we love each other so much!), I had been dreaming of wedding, children, happiness...but at that minute I had only one thing in my mind - I must survive for my dreams, for myself, for my future children, for my loved ones! I will win, I have to win, no other options!

A week later I was over the first operation - cancer had spread all over my left side so I needed a mastectomy as soon as possible.

I decided to have my right breast removed also and that was the best decision of my life! I wanted to be safe for the future! I thought: "this is the task to solve now, so let's do it!"

After a bunch of chemos, radiation, hormone therapy and 4 operations I am totally healthy and I am just having my last, final reconstruction on 24th February 2015!:-)

With the help of God, my loved ones, especially with my Man:-), my super doctors nothing seemed to be impossible!

You always have to be positive and belive in Your stregths and in the strength of love! Also, You have to learn the task why God made You go through this path! Listen to the voice of Your body!

Believe in LIFE and everything is possible! :-)

Sylvia
Esztergom, Hungary

My Journey of Faith

When I was in my early twenties my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. I knew from that point on someday I would receive that same diagnosis. At the age of 35 I had my first mammogram and a pea size lump was found. It was removed and tested negative and life went on. In June of 2014 at the age of 56 I had my yearly mammogram. I was called and told I needed to come back for another mammogram and an ultrasound. I was then told I needed to see a surgeon. I saw him in August and had a needle biopsy on my left breast and a stereo tactic biopsy on my right breast. The left breast was clear but the right breast showed DCIS. He recommended either a lumpectomy with radiation or removal of the entire breast with no radiation. After much prayer I knew that I was supposed to have a bi-lateral mastectomy even though the left breast biopsy had come back normal. I went back to the surgeon and told him my decision and he indicated that he had a great feeling about that choice as well. On September 11, 2014 I underwent a bi-lateral mastectomy with tissue expanders. The reconstruction process was hard and painful. I did not enjoy those fills one little bit! I had my second surgery on December 16th to remove the tissue expanders and place the implants. It is now February 10, 2015 and I feel wonderful. I feel so blessed to have gone through this journey. I chose early on to rely on my faith to get me through this and the Lord has never let me down. I am grateful for all that I have learned throughout my journey, and I'm especially grateful for my husband and all the rest of my family. Their support has been truly amazing. My daughter is running in a breast cancer marathon this weekend in my honor and I can't wait to be at the finish line to give her a huge hug. I am blessed!!

Anonymous
Thomasville, GA

My Journey as a Survivor-Twice

My journey began at the age of 42, after my third mammogram. A stage one ductal carcinoma was discovered. The cancer was removed during the biopsy. To prevent a recurrence, a lumpectomy, followed by six chemo and thirty-three radiations was recommended. Shortly after treatments ended, even though 2003-2004 was very difficult, I returned to work and became a first time college student. I had a sense of urgency. My life was too short not to do what I'd always wanted to; teach elementary aged children.

During 2005, I left my nearly ten year career in banking and became a teacher assistant. Unfortunately, in January 2006, I had an emotional/mental breakdown. I “hit the ground running” without allowing enough "healing" time after cancer.

In August 2007, I acquired a job as a remediation assistant. In December, I had to take a six week leave of absence to remove my ovaries. A non-cancerous, 17 cm growth was on one and a grapefruit size on the other (My uterus was removed in 1998 due to numerous fibroids). I returned to work. In December of 2008 I received my BA in Elementary Education. In May of 2011, while continuing to work, I went back to college for my master’s degree. All the while, I tried to get a job as a teacher. In October of 2012, my supervisor told me I would never work as a teacher in a classroom because I was “sick” and had too many family issues. She couldn’t depend on me.

Shortly before Christmas of 2012, through self-exam and follow-up biopsy, stage-2 triple-negative was confirmed, in the same breast. Following the mastectomy and six chemo treatments I developed permanent neuropathy in my hands and feet. Due to diabetes, reconstruction has been extremely difficult.

My husband commented, “why us”? My response, “why not”? I have not been the bravest survivor lately; still, I am a survivor. I am thankful to my Lord and Savior for my life. This quote says it all: “Life is a Journey, Not a Destination." Ralph Waldo Emerson

Bonnie "Bunny" Sutton
Burnsville, NC

It Couldn't Get Any Worst

My spouse was diagnosed with ALS in Nov 1994. I was diagnosed with breast cancer Jan 1996. I was Greg's soul caregiver. I took Greg to his office on Jan 17, 1996 to Clear out his desk. I went for a Mamogram while he said his goodbyes. The call came 2 days later. Something on film, need to retest. Ductal cancer. We opted for a total mastectomy as I needed to get well quickly. Luckily I needed no chimo or radiation. My surgery was Valentine's day. My friend Bobbie took me to the hospital and my husband's friend Phil bought him to the hospital in his wheel chair to visit me as he could no longer use his legs. When I came home we were quite a sight. I could not use my left arm and he couldn't walk. He helped me everyday clean my Jackson Pratts. I have been cancer free for 19 years. My loving husband died in July 2010. That was 16 years living with ALS. He contributed his longevity to my loving care. I quite my office job in April 1998 to take care of him all by myself. There are many more stories of our life with these 2 deadly diseases But not enough space. Thank you for letting me tell our story. My mother died of breast cancer as did both of my grandmothers. He was 44 when diagnosed and 2 years later I was 44 when diagnosed.

Betty Giacometti
Alliance, OH

WHERE ARE YOU?

“I'm right here, standing beside you--holding you up as the tiredness of your last chemotherapy treatment is taking over. Now is the time for you to rest. Rest is healing. My Angels will be watching over you.”

“I'm right here, behind you--giving you gentle pushes forward since you are not feeling as strong in yourself today.”

“I'm right here, in front of you--leading the way over this rough cancer road, helping to make it a little more bearable.”

“I'm right here, inside you--as difficult as your journey is for you, you can still reach out and help others. I will help you to accomplish more than you thought possible.”

“I'm right here. I am your boss. I am your father. I love you like no other can.”

And in the fall of 2010, while I was in treatment for breast cancer, He was right there in answer to my prayers--I wanted to help other women as they, too, traveled their own unique cancer journeys.

He is here when I ask Him to help me author special letters and testimonials.

He is right here, answering prayers that I have not even thought to say yet.

He is right here, meeting every need I have in order to administer The Sparkle Caps Project, as we uplift, empower, love and pray for other women through sponsored Sparkle Caps gift bags.

He is right here, helping me to tell other women that, in spite of our hair loss, we are HOT CHICKS; that our hair is not tied to our femininity.

WHERE ARE YOU? “I am in you! And I am in you! And I am in you! I know your pain. I know your fears. Trust in Me and trust the plan that I have for you!”

Susan "Victorious" Heimbigner
Sumter, SC
Pop of Color Glass Solar Lantern
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