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I Saved Her Life and Then She Saved Mine

Last year I rescued a dog with one week left before she was to be euthenized. She was just 14months old, had already had a litter of pups and had heart-worm, which we treated her for. After a couple months, she started bouncing up and hitting me in the same place on my left breast, so much so that it hurt. When I felt the spot she kept hitting, I found a lump. I thought it was just the injury but still thought I'd better check it out. That was in February '09 and the rest is history. It was a triple negative tumor but very small. They found a second, even smaller tumor in the same breast so I had a mastectomy and am now almost finished with my chemotherapy. I would have been going for my normal mammogram this month (July) and because of the kind of tumor, it might have been much further along and my prognosis not nearly as good. I have no doubt that first I saved my dog, Sambucca's (a very black labrador retriever) life, and then she saved mine. BTW- since my surgery, "Bucca" has not jumped up against me at all and she also found a tumor on my mother's dog. She is amazing!

Maria
Silver Spring, MD

Listen to your body!

At the age of 44 I got the news..."it is cancer." For over 6 months, I had been experiencing a problem with my right nipple. It was itchy and irritated. Having breastfed my two children years before, I had frequently experienced sore, cracked nipples. So I pretty much ignored the problem--until the nipple began discharging and having "raw" areas. I changed soaps, used special creams...Nothing helped..it just got worse. Finally, I went to my Doctor and she confirmed my very worse fears... Cancer of the Nipple or Pagets Disease.I had NEVER heard of it. From there I went to the fabulous SIU Breast Center in Springfield, IL...and they recommended a "scarless" mastectomy with a tram-flap reconstruction. My nodes were clear...no chemo!! That was 10 years ago and I am feeling great...and very very lucky! Every year since my diagnosis, the females in my family celebrate with me at our local Race for the Cure...we had 4 generations there this year!!

Rhonda
Argenta, IL

Thank God for My Dog

In 2001, my labrador came up to me, laid his head on my left breast and started whining. I pushed him away but he came right back, whining, tears rolling down his face. A week later, my nipple started leaking. I went and had a mammogram and was diagnosed with 1st stage breast cancer. Had a lumptectomy, chemo and radiation.

A year later, a different lab we had went between my husband's legs and started doing the same thing. We both looked at each other and he said I'll call the doctor. He had 1st stage prostrate cancer. We are both cancer free thanks to our dogs.

Sherry Harris
Reidsville, NC

I'm so glad to be here!!

A couple of weeks before Christmas of 2008, I felt a suspicious lump in my left breast, and I just knew my life would be changed forever. I had seen my mother successfully battle breast cancer twice, so I knew the odds were that I was about to begin my own battle 2 months before my 44th birthday.

After a stressful Christmas, I made an appointment with my primary care physician, on New Year's Eve, who confirmed that he felt the lump as well, though small. He immediately made an appointment for me with a surgical nurse, who after reviewing the ultrasound, informed me that it was not a cyst, but rather a mass. Well, that was a rather eventful way to bring in the new year. Instead of witnessing the historical inauguration of a candidate who I had worked very hard to see elected, I'd get to have a biopsy-yaah!

Next there was the needle biopsy, where I was informed that it was highly unlikely that I had cancer because the tissue did not have much blood, so I left feeling very optimistic. However, a couple of days later, I received the call from my "no longer very optimistic" radiologist, that I in fact had invasive ductal carcinoma.

After a successful lumpectomy, and surgery in February, which resulted in the finding of no lymph node involvement, clear margins, and a tumor smaller than 1.0 cm, I was now a Stage 1 breast cancer patient.

I finished radiation in May, and after receiving a new lease on life, I left a job that I had always hated, mended important relationships, discarded toxic ones, and got on with living. I'm so glad to be here!

Alma Busby-Williams
Walnut Creek, CA

Truly Blessed

I was diagnosed with two types of breast cancer in 2005. I had a bilateral mastectomy, but had no lymph nodes involved, and the cancer was totally encapsulated. So, I didn't have to go through the radiation and chemotherapy that many patients do. My doctor said I was considered "Stage 0" ! Today, in 2009, I am still cancer free and thanking God for His healing, and all the wonderful family and friends who supported me through this challenging ordeal.

Sandy Sherman
Tustin, CA

The Importance of Self Exams

In June of 2006 I had a clean mamogram. While doing my monthly self exam the following month I found a lump, it was malignant. I had a lumpectomy, chemo, radiation followed by 1 year of herceptin infusions. Today I am cancer free. It scares me think how different things would have turned out had I not done that self exam and just waited for my next yearly mamogram! Ladies - Please do those monthly self exams!

Darlene
Garden City, MI

My Mom-The Hero

My Mom was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2002. She had a mastectomy. The cancer moved to her brain. She had a tumor removed from her brain the size of a small lemon in 2004. She had radiation surgery to remove the smaller tumors. The cancer moved to her lungs. She was already on oxygen 24 hours. The tumors were inoperable in her lungs. She kept going for chemo after the brain surgery. During 2005, she started acting different. She would be watching tv and would tell you she would call you back but wouldn't. She would start forgetting things, but would laugh it off and call it old age. She put things in her house in weird places. Right after Christmas she fell in her oncologist's office and her doctor took her to the hospital. She had been hiding the signs of that the cancer was back with a vengence. She just wanted to make it through Christmas with her family. She was put into hospice the 2nd week of January. The doctors told us we had 3 months with her. It was a week and a half before she passed. The last few days, the only person she knew was my 6-year old son, Ryan, the light of her life, the only reason I think she held on as long as she did. She passed in January 2006. She was the most wonderful, caring woman on the face of this planet. She would give you the shirt off her back and the last dime she had and not ask a thing from you. She was my best friend and my confidant. She is truly missed by one and all. The Lord is truly blessed to have her with him, I know I was.

Jennifer Huffman
Valdese, NC

The Year from Hell

It started with a lump in my right breast. After an ultrasound, the doctor said it was a cyst. No problem. Six months later, it was bigger. Another ultrasound showed it was now 2 cysts. I decided to have them removed. The surgeon took a sample and sent it off to be analyised. Two weeks later, I had a total right mastectomy. It was in 3 out of 8 lymph nodes. Then started 6 months of chemo. I ended up in the hospital every month for a blood transfusion. After the 4th visit to the hospital, my oncologist - Dr. Richard Toser - said the cure was going to kill me. The chemo stopped. 25 sessions of radiation followed. People would say to me "What an awful thing to go through". I would reply, "I'm not going through anything - my family and friends are. I had the disease - they had to watch me suffer." When I think back on it, I am in such pain thinking about what my husband and children and family and friends went through. I can never repay them for what they went through and what they did for me. I know that the many, many prayers sent to the Heavens above played a great deal in my recovery. I am now "cancer free" and with God's help I will stay that way to watch my grandchildren grow.

Terri Campanella
Hamilton, ON, Canada

It's been a long road to travel

I was diagnosed with breast cancer in December of 1999. I had surgery just 5 days after I had my mammogram, ultrasound, biopsy, and results. I had 8 chemo treatments and 33 radiation treatments. Everything went fine I was only nauseated for about three days after chemo and was fine until the next.

It wasn't until 2005 that I decided to have reconstructive surgery. I now wish that I had never had it. The plastic surgeon left stitches torn loose and I got an MRSA infection. Not once but twice and the surgeon would not take credit for it. I had to go to another regular surgeon to get it well. I ended up finally going to another plastic surgeon to close the wound and do some repair work.

I am now in the process of having a Fat Cell Transfer done to rebuild my very small breast that was left after the reconstruction went bad.It will take many procedures to complete the breast.

I try to live my life to the fullest and help any that I know to remember to do self exams and get yearly mammograms. I even have a tee shirt that was given to me that says on the front..Official Monthly Breast Examiner...and on the back it says....Touching Boobs Save Lives.....www.IdRatherKnowNow.com.

This year will be my 5th year to participate in the Relay for Life lap. I am also on the planning committee for this years ceremony. I wanted to be more involved.

Ann Marcus
Cartersville, GA

Two years and counting!

June 17, 2007 I went in for my yearly mamogram, I was stunned. I had breast cancer in the right breast, and needed a mastectomy. I went home and gave this alot of thought and decided that I would take both breasts in order not to have to go through this again. I told my husband and sister that was until I decided I could tell my children together. July 23, 2007 a bi-lateral mastectomy. Sure enough they found cancer in the left breast. The right had 2 positive nodes and the left zero. Tomorrow is my two year survivior date. I have two teenage children and a great husband. 8 weeks of chemo and 33 days of radiation I am still here.One of my best days was when my onconologist said here is a prescription for Femera you will need to take this for 10 years!! Yippie I will take that. I Thank God for my sister she was and is my best supporter when I wanted to cry and not show them how I was really feeling she has always been there. I am a very private person this is the first time I have shared my feelings. Everyone is different and I will tell you I read every story daily and pray for each one.

I click every day for women to be tested. Thank you to all the ladies that had the courage to share it is so important to all of us.

Don't wait, just get tested.

God bless us all today and forever.

Melissa
Orlando, FL
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