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Overcomer

My story begins on 10/07/14. The photo attached was 2 weeks and 3 days before. It is one of my all time favorite photos of me and my boy. I thought I had been through enough in my 41 years. I found my lump on 10/07/14 and was diagnosed 3 days later. I was supposed to have my first mammogram the very next Friday. I felt a twinge in the shower that morning and decided to lay down flat on my back to do my exam. I have never done an exam like this before. There it was. If I had waited for my mammogram things would be totally different because my emergent mammogram that morning did not show my tumor. When I finally saw my oncologist he looked at me and asked how I even found my lump. It was in a bad spot and he could barely feel it.

When my husband and I got the news the only think I remember is wondering if i was going to be around to see my little boy grow up. It was devastating. Then one day I looked up and asked God to just give me a sign that I was going to be ok. that I was going to make it. I literally got in my car and the radio started playing "Overcomer" by Mandisa. That was it. I was going to be okay. God has spoken to me several more times loud and clear.

Through all of this I have had a double mastectomy, am currently going through 8 rounds of chemo, and will do radiation. I truly believe God helped me find my cancer at just the right time. It has not been an easy road, but I am making it. Here's to a cancer free life!

Nicole Keil
Omaha, NE

How Neglect Led To My Nurturing

It’s September of 2013 and after struggling with homelessness and battling instability, I was determined to keep my new job at all cost, ignoring that nagging, pinching and poking sensation on my right breast and my existing disabilities was fine with me.

Fueled by the urge to make up for time lost, I began to push myself harder both emotionally and physically I wanted and needed to provide for my teenage daughter.

Maintaining my position was the key to happiness and being a responsible mother. Right? Isn’t that the way it’s supposed to be?

After being on the job for a couple of months I was let go, here I am unemployed again, I was thinking to myself, “I’m doing everything right, but this keeps happening” While worrying about how I will pay bills and keep a roof over our heads I could no longer ignore the increasing numbness and difficulties in raising my right arm. A trip to the emergency room In January 2014 leads to a new primary physician, it’s the second physician within 3yrs that orders a mammogram that I postpone for the 2nd time.

While feeling defeated and worthless, after pushing resumes with no responses and unsuccessful interviews, it’s February and I finally go in for my overdue mammogram. I’m immediately called back the same day of the mammogram and asked to return ASAP. It takes 2 days before I return for another diagnostic screening.

March 4th of 2014 I was diagnosed with invasive ductal carcinoma.

This is only part of my journey with a message worth sharing hoping others

will learn from my experience.

Faced with breast cancer and so much uncertainty about our future.

I eventually came to the realization that allowing yourself the time to nurture your mind and body even in troubled times is truly the path to self-discovery and happiness.

T Gonzalez
Tampa, FL

Slow and Steady Wins the Race...

Unfortunately, it's just not my style. I was recently diagnosed with breast cancer and I wanted to report that the battle is going well. There have been some casualties, after my first sight of the surgery I was in tears, but I knew that the doctors had done some great work and I needed to focus on healing (hurry up and heal). It's been two weeks since the surgery and I was hoping I would be done healing already.

The doctor removed the threatening lump and found no other cancers in the lymph nodes or the margins of the lump. Now I am recovering and yesterday I was told that I could start chemo on the 18th of February, which would be two months from the day I went for the mammogram and biopsy. But honestly, I wish we had started already, because I feel like I am standing still and waiting. Constantly waiting for results or doctor appointments and it is making me crazy.

I am going to have to pace myself. I keep trying to go on and get back into my routine but I can't risk injuring myself or getting sick now. I always try "not to act sick" (some fatherly advice I was given) so I tend to rush ahead when I feel a little bit better and then I tire myself out. So I need to change my tactics and make a slow and steady march to the finish line instead of my normal erratic zigzag and dart pattern. My husband hates shopping with me because of that pattern.

But I am anxiously waiting for my first chemo appointment so I can figure out how I will react to it and plan accordingly. Then I can figure out what schedule will work best for me. I do realize that the last bit shows I haven't really managed to control my darting and zigzagging philosophy yet, but I am trying.

Teresa
Houston, TX

ONE TOUGH FIGHTER

I want to tell you a story about my mom, she is my inspiration everyday. In 93 my mom was diagnosed with her first battle with breast cancer, after a lumpectomy and chemotherapy she was all clear........so we thought. Then in 99 she was diagnosed again with breast cancer, this time she had her breast removed and it was all re-stuffed with fat tissue, got an all clear from the doc again. Fast forward to 09 and my mom ended up in the emergency room that's how we found out she had Ovarian cancer........after they did a major surgery did some chemo and all clear. Her doctor was the best mom went thru chemo treatments off and on till a couple weeks before she passed away. Because of her condition me and my husband decided to move up our wedding so my mom could be there, of course my mom was gonna go either way to jump on a plane to come see me in Vegas . a week before this picture was taken my mom was undergoing 4 weeks of radiation treatments and chemotherapy, no one at the wedding would have thought she was fighting anything she looked normal. I am so happy she was able to be there for me and both my sisters weddings, my mom went in for a scheduled chemo treatment at the begging of September and her doctor told her it wasn't working anymore and she would call hospice, yes we were all upset but for my mom to battle cancer off and on for over 20 years she gave it one hell of a fight! two weeks after chemo was stopped my mother passed away......my sisters tried to fly me home in time but I didn't make it in time to tell her good bye. I just want anyone out there that has that day where its painful or you don't feel like fighting just know you have loved ones out there, my sisters and I didn't realize how many people my mom touched over the years till her funeral. I was amazing.

Chris S.
LAS VEGAS, NV

How Neglect Led To My Nurturing

It’s September of 2013 and after struggling with homelessness and battling instability, I was determined to keep my new job at all cost, ignoring that nagging, pinching and poking sensation on my right breast and my existing disabilities was fine with me.

Fueled by the urge to make up for time lost, I began to push myself harder both emotionally and physically I wanted and needed to provide for my teenage daughter.

Maintaining my position was the key to happiness and being a responsible mother. Right? Isn’t that the way it’s supposed to be?

After being on the job for a couple of months I was let go, here I am unemployed again, I was thinking to myself, “What am I going to do now?” While worrying about how I will pay bills and keep a roof over our heads I could no longer ignore the increasing numbness and difficulties in raising my right arm. A trip to the emergency room In January 2014 leads to a new primary physician, it’s the second physician within 3yrs that orders a mammogram that I postpone for the 2nd time.

While feeling defeated and worthless, after pushing resumes with no responses and unsuccessful interviews, it’s February and I finally go in for my overdue mammogram. I’m immediately called back the same day of the mammogram and asked to return ASAP. It takes 2 days before I return for another diagnostic screening.

March 4th of 2014 I was diagnosed with invasive ductal carcinoma.

Faced with breast cancer and so much uncertainty about our future,

I eventually came to the realization that allowing yourself the time to nurture your mind and body even in troubled times is truly the path to self-discovery and happiness.

Thelsuice Gonzalez
Tampa, FL

I am a Warrior

Back in August 15, 2014 I was diagnosed with Stage 2 Breast Cancer after monitoring the lump for 2 years with tests, biopsy, etc. The results all came back negative, therefore, I did not worry about it until it started growing.

Once diagnosed, I decided to go with a bilateral mastectomy and breast reconstruction. I am currently half way through my chemo cycles and then radiation.

During this journey I have met wonderful strong ladies and have bonded for life. We look forward to our chemo day and make the best of it. During the week we text each other to see how we are doing. It has been such a positive experience for me due to them. I love them as they are my chemo sisters.

My husband, son, mom and friends are very supportive as well. I have always been a strong woman but this journey has definitely sealed the title. It is a tough one but my positive attitude towards it has made it easier for me and my family. I continue to work as it is the best therapy that I do not pay for but instead I get paid for attending.

To all the women who are currently going through this journey, God Bless you all! Stay strong and FIGHT LIKE A GIRL!

Mia Alvarez
Sunrise, FL

My Dear Mother

My Dear Mother lost her battle in 1965. I was 9 years old, and remember a lot to this day. I love and miss my Mother daily. I wear pink in her honor, and all who struggle to beat breast cancer, and all who just can't try any longer. Bless you all, and RIP, Dear Mother.

Karen
Lafayette, IN

It Ain't but a Bump in the Road

While going through testing to see what autoimmune disease I have, I just happened to do a self exam and found a lump in my right breast. Within 3 days I was undergoing a Mammogram and CT Scan and 3 days later a biopsy.

I don't know why but when I was driving to the biopsy appointment I just knew what they would find and I was right - when I received the call I wasn't surprised. During the testing for autoimmune disease though some swollen lymph nodes were found around my trachea, so before anything could be done about the breast cancer I had to have a tracheotomy. Luckily that came back clear (I have histoplasmosis).

So onto the breast cancer - since the lump was small and ER+ I had a choice of radiation for 6 to 7 weeks or radiation via the Savi Unit which meant only 5 days. I chose the Savi way. It was an intense 10 treatments in 5 days but it was relatively painless. Having the Savi Unit inserted hurt a bit, wearing the unit was uncomfortable and having it removed was just an "ouch" but I'm glad I went the Savi way.

My breast cancer was caught early - Stage 1 and all cancer was removed so I am cancer free - I kicked butt, with the help of my friends and family. Having their support was the most important thing to me through this entire process. I couldn't have done it without them! And I especially could not have fought this fight without my 14 year old daughter at my side. This is definitely a fight that cannot be fought alone!

peggy aldrich
Tipton, IN

Laughing in cancer's face

I had felt the lump months before and didn't really think anything of it. When I went to the Dr it wasn't even for the lump so when she said I needed a mammogram and ultrasound I thought it was a waste of time. The nurse at the breast center was scheduling the biopsy before I even realized what was happening. April 1st, 2014 I was diagnosed with stage 2b breast cancer. I was in shock. I was a 34 year old married mother of 3 kids. This couldn't really be happening. It seemed so surreal. It took me a couple hours to decide there was one way I wanted to go about this fight, with humor and positivity. And thats what I did. I had a double mastectomy, 6 rounds of chemo and 30 rounds of radiation. Anything that went wrong throughout the fight, we turned into a funny situation. We laughed....alot. I am thankful everyday that I went to the Dr that day and that she was so set on me getting it checked out. As tough as breast cancer is, there was alot more positives that came out of this situation than there were negatives. I was shown amazing kindness and generosity by all those I know and even those I don't. We had the largest support system that I have ever seen. It was amazing for my kids to see so many family, friends and strangers reach out to us and help. As of Jan 6th I am officially in remission. I am thankful that I have been able to stay positive and always find the humor in this journey. Laughter really is the best medicine.

Kelly
Ofallon, MO

Love Can Keep You Going

My Mom was diagnosed with breast cancer when I was 15 years old. Today, I am 36 years old and my Mom still has breast cancer. It has metastasized to her liver, lungs and bones. I have watched her go through some of the hardest battles a woman can endure. I used to live in constant fear that I was going to get a phone call and my best friend and Mom would be taken from me. Now that I am older and have had 21 years to accept what my Mom has to battle on a daily basis, I am thankful when that phone rings. I hear her voice and I know she has woken up to fight another day. I am not in denial. I know that one day she will be taken up to a better place where she will feel no pain and be free from all of the side effects of her illness. What I am is hopeful, blessed and thankful. I have had the privilege to make memories and bless this formidable woman with Grandchildren and those Grandchildren have been able to make memories with her, as well. I am hopeful that she will be here for my 40th Birthday and I am so thankful for all of the above. She is my rock and my inspiration. She has taught me to fight hard for anything I truly want in life. Nothing is out of reach if you just believe!

Jonquil Norman
Muskegon, MI
Flurry of Savings
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