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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

You are never too young

I discovered a lump when I was 21 and my doctor at the time said I was too young to worry about it. So I put it out of my mind till my new doctor seven years ago asked me about my lump. He monitored it with yearly exams and when I reached 40 my doctor sent me in for my first mammogram. They didn't like the look of my lump, so I was scheduled for a second mammogram and an ultra sound. Next I was sent in for an MRI with contrast because of the size of the spot in my breast. After all the exams I went in for a biopsy to be fully diagnosed with breast cancer. My surgeon offered the options of either a lumpectomy or a mastectomy. I chose the first choice because I would rather have a deformed breast than none. After my surgery I got the results a week later and apparently they didn't get all the cancer so I was given my choice of another lumpectomy or mastectomy. I was told that good news was that the cancer had not spread into the lymph nodes. I chose to have another lumpectomy. That was the longest two weeks waiting for the results. My surgeon was very sad because he felt he let me down and he informed me that the cancer was through out my whole breast so I needed the mastectomy after all. So after two surgeries to save my breast I had to loose it after all. I didn't stop my life because of the cancer. I kept focus on what needed to be done and even did an art show two days after my mastectomy. I wanted to show people that life doesn't stop even with cancer. I recognized when I was tired and did rest but I did the things that I knew would help me to get on the road to recovery quicker. My family and friends were my strength when I needed it most.

Julia
Kansas City, MO

Early detection....

My journey began November 2013 with a regular mammogram. After several more appointments, MRI, and bilateral biopsy, I received the news in February 2014. I had cancer in both breasts. Due to mammogram and MRI the cancer was detected at stage I. I had a lumpectomy and sentinel lymph node biopsy. Lymph nodes were negative but the margins on the right side weren’t clear and due to a dislodging of the needle localization, the marker remained in the left breast even though the breast surgeon removed a significant amount from the suspected location. After discussions with the surgeon I decided to have a bilateral mastectomy; this was not an easy decision for me. Within two weeks I was back in surgery. Final diagnosis was multifocal breast cancer. At my appointment with the oncologist he explained how cancer is staged and recommended treatments for the various stages. He then discussed my cancer; after an hour and a half (thank goodness we were the last appointment of the day) my husband looked at him and said, “So you’ve spent the last hour and a half talking to us, to tell us that she won’t be needing any treatment.” The oncologist confirmed this and said that due to the small size thanks to early detection and bilateral mastectomies that I wouldn’t need any further treatment. In August 2014 I had implant surgery. I know reconstruction is a process that will take time and several procedures before I can truly look at myself in the mirror. I guess if you can consider someone fortunate with a breast cancer diagnosis…that would be me. Even though breast cancer has left me with mental, emotional, and physical scars, early detection saved me from having to endure chemo and radiation.

Kitty
Carlisle, PA

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
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