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Missy

Let me start by saying please please please get that mammogram. I went for mine Jan 2013 after missing 3 years. Three days after my mammogram I received a letter and a phone call asking me to set up an ultra sound. It only took ten minutes (lifetime) for the radiologist to recommend a surgeon. I have never had to deal with surgeons, oncologists, or any cancer related procedures. Well that changed real quickly. After meeting with my surgeon I was scheduled for a biopsy. And from there, you guessed it. My diagnosis on Jan 10,2013 was triple negative breast cancer. Surgery was done on Jan 17,2013 my youngest daughters 21st birthday. I had stage 2b triple neg bc with 1 lymph node involved. (16 removed after sentinel node biopsy) and my tumor was 3.5 centimeters. My treatment consisted of 8 rounds of chemo and 33 rounds if radiation. I also changed my oncologist after 1 round if chemo , to an oncologist who specializes in breast cancer. Well I have been out of treatment since August 22,2014 and I am still dealing with side effects. I have lemphodema and neropathy. I also have dischage so now I am facing an mri. BUT I have an amazing wife (yes wife) an amazing family and faithful God. I have support from my work and friends as well. The positive in all this is that with triple negative, once treatment is over there are no more meds. Menopause has hit hard, but thank God I have three amazing kids.... I pray every day for a cure so no one else has this path. Please take the time and get that mammogram.....

Missy Perreault
Middleton, NH

No Cancer Glasses for Me

I was diagnosed with breast cancer 26 years ago. I immediately began a year of treatment, including a mastectomy, then chemo and radiation. I was married with two boys who were two and six years old, and I was a full time elementary school teacher. I truly believed that I would beat cancer, not let it take over my life. In my mind, I thought of cancer as shaded glasses, and I refused to wear them. I would not look at my life through those cancer glasses. I focused instead on me, my recovery, on my family, my career and my future. I had cancer, cancer did not have me.

Now my boys are independent young men, I have retired after 36 years in a successful career, and am still married to the same wonderful man. But last August, after 25 years of good health, I received the same diagnosis, same treatment, even the same doctors. I still refused to wear those cancer glasses. This time I lost all my hair, and had to adjust to a new me, but I still focused on my recovery, my family and friends, and volunteering in first grade classrooms when I could.

I know that I will recover once again. My hair is growing back, and I have been getting so many compliments on my short, curly style, I think I will keep it this way.

I truly believe that keeping a positive outlook is equally, if not more important than all of the treatments I have received. Focusing on the big picture--life--and not seeing everything through cancer, that is what makes the difference here.

Gail Staples
Moline, IL

My hero

My story stars 5 years ago, my mom sat me down one day after a very long 12 hour shift. Normally it didn't bother me we did this a lot, but something was different I could see it in her face. My mom asked how my day was but I didn't care about that I NEEDED to no what was wrong. She told me that my grandmother had stage 4 breast cancer, my great sank and I started to cry. Here's the thing my grandma (tutu) is a fighter she's always got her make up and hair done u never seen her down and this was no difference over the course of a year she started and stopped her cemo she said after about the 7th treatment it was a waste of time and energy. She lost her hair she had a mastectomy but she always had a smile in her face but I didn't I was scared. I talked to her everyday and we alighted and joked but in December 2011 she was different it was like she wasn't even mentally with us she would look at you with no response I couldn't take it I broke down. One day my mom asked if I wanted to go up to the hospital to see my grandma again I just got off of work and wanted to sleep. I new I should have went because at 10:20am my grandma took her last breath and passed away without me there. I never got to say goodbye I never got to tell her for the last time that I love her. Or tell her that she was the one that taught me to bake or how much I just appreciate her. I miss her so much and think about her a lot I no she is proud of me but I wish I could just see her one last time so I can tell her everything and most of all that I'm sorry I wasn't there when she passed.

I love u tutu and miss u so much

Debra
Edson, AB, Canada

Pregnant with Breast Cancer...

June 2008, 28 years old and 2 months into my pregnancy my husband Jarom and I were watching a TV program about breast cancer. We were interested in the program at the time because my older sister Tasha (34 years old) was undergoing treatments for breast cancer. As I showed my husband how a self examination was performed, he noticed a hard lump in my right breast. I ignored the lump for about a month until I asked my OB to examine my breast. She too was surprised and thought it may have been beguine due to the pregnancy and had me run further tests to rule out a tumor.

After meeting with a surgeon and having done a biopsy I received a call on August 1, 2008 that the doctor needed to see me right away.

She sat me in the same room where I received the biopsy and said "Luseane, we biopsied your sample and unfortunately it is cancer". My first reaction was Wow; okay what do I need to do to take care of it? After hearing my options and felt what was best for my baby and myself, I immediately made decisions without discussing it with my husband or family and had scheduled to have a lumpectomy early Monday morning on August 4, 2008.

Before I could begin with chemo I had to run a series of test to monitor my baby which I also had to see a specialist to check my heart, blood test, etc. The plan was for me to be admitted to receive A/C infusion type chemotherapy for 72 hrs. once every 3 weeks 4 times.

After treatments were done on Nov 15, I continued to see my OB and neonatal specialist to monitor my baby's growth and or any side effects from receiving chemo. All went well after treatment that at a regular prenatal checkup at 37 weeks on December 29, I was told I was contracting, 4cm and later gave birth to a healthy baby girl that evening. She will be turning 6 and I'm still cancer free! #blessed

Titi Vimahi Ha'o
Kahuku #RR4L, HI

Shannon's Strength Put to the Test....

After a personally challenging year, I made a commitment to myself that 2014 would be a time to focus on me. As a healthy, married 45-year old mother of three girls, I started working out 5 days/week and lost 18 pounds. Life was good!

A routine mammogram on 8/4 was determined abnormal. This was concerning to me as I had been feeling breast changes over the past few months. A follow-up diagnostic mammogram and ultrasound on 8/18 revealed 3 masses in my right breast that the radiologist told me she was 95% confident were malignant. I was scared and felt alone and helpless. A biopsy on 8/26 confirmed my worst fear – invasive, ductal carcinoma. Final pathology revealed the tumor type to be HER-2 negative, ER/PR positive – my breast surgeon assured me my cancer was treatable and that I would be fine. I wanted to believe him but it all did not seem real to me.

On 9/24, I elected to have a double mastectomy with tissue expanders. The choice was difficult but made easier when considering my family and desire to live a long life. Surgery was successful and my lymph nodes were negative. My recovery was manageable with the help of my husband, family and friends.

On 10/3, my tumor was sent out for an Oncotype genomic test to determine probability of recurrence and potential need for chemotherapy. For two weeks, my mind swirled with emotions – how would I respond to chemo, what effect would it have on my body, would I lose my hair, what would my children think? I kept the focus on my recovery and focused on the love, support and prayers for me. On 10/20, my oncologist informed me that my Oncotype score was low and that chemotherapy was not necessary. I was extremely relieved and now take tamoxifen and will be closely monitored for the next few years.

By relying on my inner strength and prayer, a great team of physicians, and an unbelievable support network I am now cancer free and can look forward to a long, happy life!

Shannon Hayes
Dublin, PA

My Sister

In JUly 2008 My sister found a hot painful spot on her breast..it turned out to be cancer. She had a maoscotomy with 23 nymphlodes removed in August 08 then chemo. On October 2009 she was told she was cancer free...but in December 09 she was told that cancer was found on her brain.

She had eight tumors on her brain.

She had radiation and that took care of 7 of them but not the 8th one. Even Gamma ray .

She passed on October 9th 2010 . She fought hard and kept her spirits up......but God needed her home.

I hope that a cure is found soon.

Bonnie Hughes
Morgantown, WV

Breast Cancer

I was diagnosed with stage 1 breast cancer in May 2014 with knowledge that it was going to be a lumpectomy and radiation. After the surgery it was found in the sentinel gland so I then needed to do chemotherapy. My husband, sons, family and work family all helped me through 4 chemotherapy treatments. After my first treatment my hair started to come out on a Friday afternoon by Saturday morning I had no hair and it was very hard especially because I am a Chair of Cosmetology. We went out purchased wigs and hats. With the support of the students and staff especially my boss and co worker I never wore the uncomfortable wig or most days the hats. I have 6 weeks of radiation and still have everyone supporting me. I would like to add that the staff at Fox Chase Cancer center have helped me along the way with encouragement and support.

Rebecca Wolbert
Philadelphia, PA

Survivor

My story begins almost 2 years before my diagnosis. I had pain in the left side of my left breast, almost under my armpit. I called my doctor and he ordered a mammogram. He said that he could see a "cluster" of cells, but it was not alarming; however, he told me that he wanted to watch it every 6 months just to be sure everything was ok, and said as long as the "cluster" did not form a mass then everything would be good. I had my last mammogram on Friday, Dec. 27, 2013, and Monday, I was called in to have an ultrasound on Friday, then a week later for a needle biopsy (that was when I knew it formed a mass and that everything was NOT ok).

On January 21, 2014, my doctor called me and told me I had mucinous (colloid) carcinoma - BREAST CANCER. My first thought was "Ok, What's the next step." My second thought was "OMG! Did he say what I think he said?" He set up an appointment with a surgeon, I had my lumpectomy on January 31. They got it ALL!! Amen!! I met with a radiation oncologist 2 weeks later, then started 33 external radiation therapy treatments on Feb. 24 (finished on April 9), after that I started Tamoxifen on April 25 for 5 years.

I had my first mammogram after treatment on Oct. 2 and was told everything is CLEAR!! Yay Me!! I beat this ugly, mean, nasty C-word! I am a survivor! If it were not for my very loving and caring husband, and my massive support group, I would not have been able to go through this alone. Thank God I did not have to do that!

Dannie Jo Lewis
Lake Charles, LA

Second round with cancer and I'm kicking butt

In August 2007 At the age of 38 I was diagnosed with estrogen positive breast cancer in my right breast the cancer had spread to the lymp nodes as well. I had a lumpectomy the following month after diagnosis and was back in surgery the next month for cancerous node removal. This was followed by several rounds of chemo and radiation. As I write this I am lying in bed recovering from a bilateral mastectomy and reconstruction surgery due to a reoccurrence of the same cancer discovered on a routine mammogram September 2014. The first cancer I discovered the lump myself while lying in bed. I am blessed that I have had such a wonderful support system. I had a previous cancer patient tell me that the key to getting through this will be maintaining a positive attitude. And no truer words were spoken. This is the advice that I pass on to anyone that's faced with this dreaded diagnosis. Cry, cuss, scream, do what you must but get it out and get over it. It's ok to have your moments you are human but you have the power over this so wipe those tears get up get dressed put on your scarf,wig, hat or just go bare headed but get up get cute and keep living. This is the hand I was dealt so guess what I'm gonna play my cards. My prayer is that breast cancer will soon be a thing of the past. Praying for a cure!!!! Felicia A Wilkes (Warrior)

Felicia
Raleigh, NC

Trust your gut

Last year, I went to see my gynecologist because I had a lump and some pain on my right breast. She told me to get an ultrasound and found out that it was a benign cyst, so I have nothing to worry about. However, as the months went on, the lump was there and so was the pain. On May 2014, decided to see an internal medicine doctor on who also deals with women's health. She recommended me both an ultrasound and mammogram.

I also had an MRI plus fine needle and core biopsy which the results said "You have a high suspicion of malignancy." I wanted to break down, not only because of those results yet also she could not determine what type of breast cancer I had. I am 37, a wife, mother, sister, daughter and friend. I felt unaware of what to do or what to think of the possibilities of getting cancer. But I did know one thing, no matter what happens, I will fight this plus I have the help as well as support from family and friends.

She referred me to a breast surgeon which the surgeon and her team decided to do their own imaging and biopsy to give the answer that I pray every night of knowing. On August 6th, my breast surgeon left a message on my phone which I called her stated that I had DCIS which was stage 0 and noninvasive. My husband and I held each other knowing what I have and being ready for the next step. The surgeon stated that I would get a mastectomy with immediate reconstruction. October 3, 2014, I had lymph nodes removed with the mastectomy and tissue expander on the right breast.

On October 17, 2014, I saw my oncologist and that's when she mention the word CHEMOTHERAPY. I cried when I got home, told my family, including my daughter. I felt defeated but did not give up. I start chemo next month and I will always keep in mind that I trusted my instincts when I checked myself a second time.

Stacy Vargas
Brooklyn, NY
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