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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.

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.

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

Cancer messed with the wrong Bit*h

Was diagnosed February 2014 with stage 3 inflammatory breast cancer.The adventure started with my left breast swelling to the size of a small basketball.Went to my doctors in November 2013, was sent for mammogram results negative (nothing to worry about as per technician). Back to doctors,send a referral to the Breast Clinic. Three months before I could get in, didn't want to wait that long. Decided to visit emergency department, nurse practitioner was the first to take a blood sample results no infection, suspected something more serious. Contacted the breast clinic to get the appointment moved up to a sooner date, rescheduled within one week. Still not satisfied another emergency department. Emergency doctor ordered ultra sound came back negative, couldn't see anything. Remember him putting his hand on my knee and telling me his thoughts, they weren't great. He stated he thought it was Cancer but couldn't diagnose without more testing. Scheduled an ultra sound at local hospital on the following Monday. Technician couldn't see anything, wanted to go a step further and decided to schedule a biopsy. Waited 2 hours before biopsy could be performed. My wonderful husband was there by my side holding my hand throughout whole experience. Seen breast doctor on Friday, got news Inflammatory Breast Cancer Stage 3. A day I will never forget. Started chemo April 2014, 8 rounds of chemo, last day (August 27, 2014) . A double mastectomy with reconstruction surgery, 25 rounds of radiation began on November 12, 2014 and ended December 17, 2014. Cancer free! I won't have been able to complete this journey without the incredible support system, my wonderful husband, my sons, my wonderful sisters and family close and far. My work family that were understanding and supportive allowing my husband time needed to take care of me.

Angela Plesniarski
Winnipeg, MB, Canada

Happy Shiny-Headed Me!

I was diagnosed at age 33 with stage 3 invasive ductal carcinoma aka Breast Cancer. The strange part was that I was in no way, shape, or form surprised. The summer before my diagnosis I was becoming tired often and experienced frequent arm pain. Eventually, I felt the lump under my arm and before the Oncologist could say it was confirmed; I had already confirmed it in my own mind. Just the thought of what was to come made me frightened and ill. I faced it head on-pardon the pun (bald is beautiful) and held on to my character, strength and humor throughout it all. Chemo was aggressive and lasted for a 6month time frame. My hair, a head full of soft curls began to change in texture. I cut it into a bob and still it continued to change. Then one day the few inches of coarse hay fell out in clumps-exposing my scalp. I called for a barber I knew to come to my home and to bring the straight razor. It was a shock to see the shiny orb that sat above my shoulders. I was both impressed at the perfect sphere shape and tortured by the absence of my curly locks. It is possible to be happy and devastated simultaneously, to laugh and shed tears of pain in one moment.

Remember I mentioned I had to hold on to my humor? Trust me I held on tightly; especially when going to the Cancer Center to try on wigs.

Every oddly colored, matted and mangled concoction of artificial and real-hair wigs was presented to me in 45 minute's time. Whoa! If there was ever a time that I considered being completely bald on a regular basis; it was then. So I took a trip to several hair supply stores in some sketchy areas and low and behold-it was like I hit the hair lottery! I found colors that complimented and cuts that flattered. I was beyond excited and couldn't wait to get those bad boys on.

Oh, Iv'e run out of space-and there is so much more.......

Bristol, CT

Cancer Suvivor 4X

I am a 3X Cancer Survivor since I was 14 . I had HD, Schwanoma . (cancer of the lining of the nerve) and Thyroid. I was diagnosed with BC Dec 11 2014. It was caused from the radiation treatment I had 33 years ago. I am now 47 . I'm not sure what form of cancer, because I was suppose to go today to get the results of finding out how much chemo I am receiving. I will also be going through a double mastectomy with reconstructive surgery after my chemo treatments. What I take from my past experiences, is that I am stronger than strong, and "Laughter is the best Medicine"! Life throws us a curveball, that is meant to hit us, not dodge It will mould me and shape me into the person I am suppose to be.

"Sometimes you have to get knocked down lower than you've ever been, to stand up taller than you ever were."

Crystal Conway
Elmsdale, NS, Canada

Why I Still Want My Foobies

Hi everyone!

My name is Julie Goiset. I'm a 2 time breast cancer survivor, single mom, massage therapist and just turned 40!

I need to go through breast reconstruction again. I will be doing tissue expanders and implants again. It's done in 2 surgeries, spaced out by 4 months or so. Recovery time after each surgery would be 3-4 weeks given no complications. I used up all my resources going through chemo and bilatteral mastectomy in 2011, and here we are in 2015 and still haven't had the reconstruction, mostly due to financial reasons. Taking time off work for me involves having a savings. I still need to pay for rent, bills and feed my kids. So here I am, asking my community for help. I am willing to wait as long as it takes because I realize this is what I really want.

In 2011, when I was diagnosed for the 2nd time and had to face chemo and surgery again, I could not bear the thought of ever doing this again! That's why I opted for a bilatteral mastectomy. Well things always don't go as planned and I got an infection a week after I got my foobies and was in the hospital for a week and had to have them removed due to a mycobacterial infection. I was qutie devastated:( But knew when I was ready, I could try again. It has now been 3 years since I lost my breasts and turning 40 has given me the gusto to get what I want! So here I am, hoping and praying that I will get some foobies(fake boobs).

I am very grateful for any support you are willing to give to me and my family during this final process. It means so much to me! Many blessings to you!

With peace and gratitude,

Julie Goiset

Julie Goiset
Carson, CA
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