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Reoccurrence After 26 Yeas

I had a modified radical mastectomy and lymphedectomy (sp) when I was 51 in 1990. In those days there was no automatic follow-up if the lymph nodes were clear. Fast forward to 3/23/16. I went in for my annual wellness check. While checking my scar, the doctor had me raise my right arm. She then exclaimed "Do you know you have a hole in your side?" Needless to say this was news to me. She gave me an antibiotic prescription and told me to come back in a week. I did and the opening was not fully closed. She had a surgeon come in who took a biopsy right then. Two days later the surgeon told me I had a tumor and that it checked out as breast cancer! I had surgery on 4/20/6 and have just finished five weeks of radiation. I am sure hoping for another 26 years at least without cancer.

Joan H Zimmer
Pacifica, CA

Cancer and "Mommy Guilt"

“Being a mother is learning about strengths you didn't know you had and dealing with fears you didn’t know existed.” Linda Wooten

I look at my daughter and love the fact that she has my eyes and my love for the arts . I also look at her in fear that she has a 50/50 chance of carrying the gene that could potentially change her life forever.

Being BRCA positive and having a daughter brings a whole other level of fear to the word Cancer. At age 18 it is suggested that Kenzie be tested for BRCA and if positive, she will have to make a decision that could impact her ability to have a family. Any mother understands all too well the concept of “mommy-guilt”, but knowing that you may have passed along a gene that could keep your daughter from having children of her own, is almost too much to wrap your head around.

When I was first diagnosed, Kenzie was a year old and while I realized the day would come that she would need to be tested, time was on my side. Two weeks ago, Mackenzie turned 12. Mackenzie started showing signs that she is hitting puberty and all I could think was “Boobs! She is going to grow boobs! Even if Mackenzie is BRCA negative, she will still have to be closely monitored for Cancer for the rest of her life. Because I developed cancer at such a young age, Mackenzie’s odds of also developing cancer are far better than average.

I am scared of not living to see her 18th birthday, and of not being around to help support and guide her with my experience in life and with Cancer. Mountain of mommy-guilt party of 1!

Having a little girl is often associated with fairy tales, ponies, princesses and the corresponding Prince Charming. Cancer is a dragon in our fairytale, and although we may not yet be able to slay that dragon, we fight daily wearing our armor of love, laughter and open honesty.

Shanna Pinet
Atkinson, NH

A Mammogram Saved My Life

My mother died from Breast Cancer at the age of 54, her sister at age 31. The possibility of Breast Cancer has always been one of my biggest fears, and for this reason, have gotten mammograms every year since the age of 35 (now 64), always with good results. But in October of 2015 that was not the case. I received a phone call telling me they wanted me to come in for an ultrasound. My heart sank. After the ultrasound, they set me up for a biopsy and after that I had to go through the weekend imagining the worst. On Monday, I got the call at work. The result was "The Lump is Stage One Cancer". I just sat at my desk and cried. Luckily one of my sons works with me and came to my office to comfort me. Went in for a lumpectomy in December, then had to wait for those results to determine whether I would need Chemo or just radiation. I was lucky ~ just needed six weeks of Radiation. My family was terrific ~ they wouldn't let me go alone at any time ~ someone was there every day to take me and on the last day my children and grandchildren were there to watch me ring that Bell. I am now cancer free and a huge advocate for mammograms. All of my doctors told me that because of the size and position of the lump, they could not feel it and by the time I would have noticed it, I may not have been so lucky. In my eyes, the mammogram saved my life and it is good to be able to say that I am a Breast Cancer Survivor instead of I have Breast Cancer.

Caroline Lorraine
Glenolden, PA

I'm a work in progress

In 2004, I was diagnosed with uterine cancer. Complete hysterectomy & radiation treatments. June, 2015, went for annual visit with the OBGYN oncologist & had graduated to seeing the PA instead of the doctor. Nothing found. Late September, went for mammogram & had the regular type. The techs asked if I minded being a guinea pig as they were learning their new 3-D mammogram machine. I agreed. Regular mammogram showed nothing. 3-D showed a tumor. Sent to breast surgeon for biopsy. Ductile carcinoma...also in sentinel lymph node.Triple negative, grade 3. Breast surgeon sent me to oncologist specializing in breast cancer. 6 rounds of ACT chemotherapy. Tumors (MRI found 2) shrunk to virtually nothing. Recurrence rates about the same with lumpectomy or mastectomy, surgeon recommended lumpectomy & lymph node removal. Surgery on April 15th. Cancer in tumors dead. Cancer in sentinel lymph node dead but lymph node number cancer cells. Took out 5 more lymph nodes...cancer free. Having 33 radiation treatments. When finished, 8 months of oral chemo (xeloda) just to make sure none of those nasty little buggers migrated anywhere. I currently feel wonderful except for fatigue...have to take a lot of breaks. I am a walking machine...walk a few miles everyday (at several intervals, not all at once). Lost weight, am eating a healthy, vegetable laden diet (while I was on chemo, I craved red meat and greens, so that's mostly what I ate!) And of the utmost importance to me, I had people praying for me all over the world! Knowing that they cared enough to do this for me, kept my spirits up & I have only had 3 meltdowns during all this (& the chemo was BRUTAL). I believe that the positive attitude, prayers, diet and exercise have kept me feeling good! (I was, and still am, overweight....just in case you think I was a health nut who had good habits...NO).Say nothing but hopeful, positive things to yourself no matter how bad the makes everything better! My wish for all of you is faith, family, friends, peace, hope, love and big hugs!

Vanessa Dixon
Snow Hill, NC

Two Time Breast Cancer Survivor

This is a picture of me finishing my sixteenth and final round of chemotherapy for stage 2 triple negative breast cancer. I am a two time breast cancer survivor. I wanted to post my story because the stories I've read gave me a lot of encouragement, and I wanted share that encouragement with others. Don't hesitate to lean on family and friends for support. Try to keep a positive attitude. You're stronger than you think you are!

Jeanne Kemeny
La Marque, TX

The Supporters

Hi I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer 13 years ago just before my 50th Birthday. I was devastated. I said "I don't want to die". My husband said "you are not going to die, we are going to fight this with all we can" All my plans for my 50th celebrations were put on hold of course and the treatment began. I went through lumpectomy, chemo & radiation. My very long hair fell out and my husband said I looked like a baby monkey with my tufts of hair (which we of course shaved off). All I can say is "thank god for my husband" he got me through this without a murmur of complaint. He was my rock. Everyone kept asking me how I was but nobody ever asked how he was, he was supportive and strong, but, you know, your family are effected by this, they go through every step with you. Well anyway, one year later I actually had a great party for my 50th and 13 years on I am a better person for the experience. This taught me about the priorities in life. Be strong and positive.

Melbourne, Australia

I Have Been Given a Gift

20 years ago when my son was almost 2 I was diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer. I did a lumpectomy, chemo, and radiation and was given the gift to watch my son grow up to be an amazing young man. I became complacent and thought after 20 years I was home free. Last August I was diagnosed with Stage 4 breast cancer that had metastasized to my lungs. Surgery and radiation were not an option this time around but I did 6 months of chemo. The tumor on my right side is no longer visible, the cancer cells in my lungs are not visible on the PET scan and the tumor on the left was reduced by about 90%. I do monthly hormone therapy shots in the hopes that the cancer cells will stay asleep for a very long time. My husband and I are planning those "someday when we retire" trips now instead of later and enjoying our time together. How many people are lucky enough to be given this gift of time twice in their life!

Diane Hamilton
Golden, CO

When I'm Healed

This is how it’s made me feel and I write this so you know,

That cancer can be beaten but may often make you low.

It changes you, surprises you, but it doesn’t have to win,

So I’ll show myself with scars and all and hopefully you'll listen.

When my scabs are healed, I’ll post a pic though some may find it shocking,

But it’s better than a photograph of me laid out in a coffin!

And though it’s not a nice thought, it could have been so real,

That’s why it’s vitally important to give your boobs a feel!

My lump was like a time-bomb which would detonate quite fast,

And if I had ignored it, Christmas may have been my last.

I know that sounds dramatic but cancer is unjust,

So early diagnosis is a life-saving must!

It’s strange now to have a massive wound where once there was a titty,

It’s made me doubt my confidence and at times I’ve felt quite shitty.

It was daunting and a bit scary to go under the surgeon’s knife,

But it was just a boob and worth the loss in exchange for a long life.

Now I’m overjoyed to be alive and still championing my fight,

Though the road has been a bumpy one, at last the end is now in sight.

The chemo is hard going and there are times I want to cave,

Then I think of the alternative and it helps me to be brave.

But I am so odd, my boob has gone and now my hair has too,

I must admit, it is a shock to find me looking as I do.

But it will all be worth it when they give me the all clear,

And Benidorm watch out, we’ll have the party of the year!

So please my friends, I ask of you, do as I request,

Give yourself a bloody good examination of your chest.

Hopefully you’ll find nothing but don’t panic if you do,

You can join my club and be a proud survivor too!

Samantha Munro-Webb
Murcia, Spain

My Poem

I was taking a shower when I first found the lump,

It was in my left breast, a painless small bump.

I wasn’t too worried, it’s a cyst, I assumed,

I wasn’t to know then that a death sentence loomed!

So off I went blindly to the doctors in town,

Who pushed, poked and prodded my boobies around.

They got squished into mammograms then covered in gel,

The ultrasound I’m informed will have more to tell.

The Initial tests done, I know something’s not right,

Its cancer they’re saying so get ready to fight!

Cancer? A tumour? But surely benign?

A simple lumpectomy and then I’ll be fine!

But oh no, it’s malignant, be urgent, act quick,

This cancer is aggressive and will make you quite sick!

It’s growing inside me, the cells dividing fast,

And then I’m told this operation will not be my last!

So now I’m preparing to lose my left breast,

To put my feet up and get plenty of rest.

‘Cos after this op, the chemo will follow,

Plus hormone tablets daily to swallow.

So this is not over, and as battle commences,

I know that the chemo will affect my defences.

It may leave me quite poorly, and may make me feel ill,

But who cares, I’m alive and I have a strong will!

Don’t get me wrong though, the tears they have flowed,

And although I am strong, my weakness has showed,

I’ve been brave, I’ve been scared, I’ve been shocked astounded,

But I’ve had so much love, I’m amazed and dumbfounded!

Laughter helps me through, but so has lots of crying,

It’s hard to think that without treatment I’m dying.

Yet life carries on and I know I will too,

So thank you to my family and friends – I love you!

Samantha Munro-Webb
Murcia, Spain

My Husband

My husband calls me a ‘right tit’ and wants to draw on my head!

He says I look like a lollipop when I’m glowing bright red.

But he also cleans up my vomit as I frequently miss the loo,

He never moans or complains, which makes me feel better too.

He says I remind him of Kojak, then smiles and thinks he’s funny,

But in my world he is, he makes a rainy day seem sunny.

He sits through all my chemo which must be such a bore,

And pushes and encourages me when I say I can’t take anymore.

He’s changed my manky dressings and injected me in the belly,

I bet that wasn’t a pretty sight as it wobbles just like jelly!

And after my operation, the time I got stuck in the bath,

He had to pull me out but we did have a good laugh.

He says he thinks I’m gorgeous but I think he’s telling lies,

But he says that I’m his wife and I am beautiful in his eyes.

It doesn’t bother him that there’s no boob and just a scar,

He says the other one is big enough and makes up for it by far!

He makes me put my feet up and get plenty of rest,

He does the washing and the housework, he really is the best.

He treats me like a Princess and looks after me so well,

He’s made life much easier when it could have been quite hell.

He’s seen me at my worse, and held me as I’ve cried,

And when I’ve said ‘I’m fine’, he knows if I have lied.

It must be hard for him, when he sees me in such pain,

I know he wants to take it away and make me well again.

So I thank you my dear husband, my lover, my best friend,

You’ve helped me through my cancer, eased my path to mend.

Soon I’ll get the all clear and we will have such a fab life,

I love you Simon Munro-Webb, and am so blessed to be your wife.

Samantha Munro-Webb
Murcia, Spain
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