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Its so important to get mammograms

I went to get my annual routine mammogram back in May 2007. I felt no lumps, we had no history of breast cancer in our family and therefore no reason to believe there was anything wrong. I had a mastecomy on my right breast July 1,2007, two surguries after that. I was very fortunate that they caught it as early as they did I didn't have to have chemo or radiation. And have been cancer free for for 2 years now.

Kim Hernandez
Bradenton, FL

I Discovered Cancer Through Unrelated Surgery

I had my annual mammogram in December of 2003. April 15, 2004 had left rotator cuff surgery, on the 22nd found the lump, same side. After being told numerous times by that surgeon plus physicians assistant (males) it was scar tissue "don't worry" I thought it might just be my imagination., I didn't give up, just quit mentioning it to them. In intense therapy sessions, I had no energy to move. Therapy ended July 23, my doctor (female) worked me in July 26, mammo/ultrasound that day - mammogram didn't find, even though we knew something was there (breasts were extremely dense), ultrasound found it, diagnosis 8/11, biopsy 8/20, two surgeries 9/2, removed two lumps and one forming on chest wall,stage 3-b, lymph nodes involved, removed 9/7, port 9/29, first chemo 10/6, hair fell out 10/15, massive mastitis infection 10/23 - week in hospital. On it went. I finished radiation May 20 2005, the day of my first "Survivor Participant" Relay For Life. I wish I had been more insistent about it, but I did not give up. thank God that Dr. S. ordered the ultrasound and from there I had wonderful Drs. who were able to guide me through a horrible experience. My Drs. learned quickly I was afraid of needles and getting stitches and always put me at ease. I relied a lot on humor to get me through, made a "wig" -sewed bright orange yarn onto cap, "rolled" the yarn on curlers, and put a hair net over it, wore that for chemo days. I would like to say, if you think you have found something DON'T GIVE UP, keep telling til someone listens. Even though the shoulder surgeon thought the lump was nothing, rotator cuff surgery ultimately saved my life by knocking that lump loose.

Waynesville, NC

My Surprise

On August 8, 2009, I found a lump in my right breast. I already had a mamogram schedule in two weeks. When I went I told the ladies about the lumb and they did both a mammogram & ultrasound. The radiologist that read them said everything was fine, just one breast on dense that the other. I was not satisfied so I call my OB-Gyn to see what I should do. They sent me to a surgeon, who felt the lump and did a needle biposy that came back inconclusive as to what it was. On Oct 9th I had a lumpectomy, what proved it was cancer. After the pathologist looked at it, I was then told I had invasive ductual carcernoma Stage 3. On November 5th I had my masectomy. From When I found this in August to then the tumor had grown to be 4.9cm and had spread to 5 of the 13 lymphnodes that were removed. On November 20th I started my chemo which was 6 treatments of TAC. I finished that on March 5th and started radiation the day after Mothers day. Thru all the treatments I did fairly well until the last Chemo. I am not sure why, but it really got me down. I spent 3 days in the hosptial with pain and fever. All I can say is I Thanks the Good Lord that I am now healed and getting better everyday.

Through all this my older Brother was my mentor. In October 2007, he was diagnosed with Stage 4 Lymphoma and knew what I was going thru. He is also doing great and about to finish up his 2 year maintanence plan.

He had the best attitude of anyone I had ever seen and it helped to give me a positive attitude.

Mobile, AL

One Family's Story

My mother died at age 64 of breast cancer. My sister died at age 44 of breast cancer, just 6 weeks after my mother. My mothers mother, my grandmother, had also died at age 32 of breast cancer. I was only 42 when I lost my mom and sister and I started to look for answers. My doctors agreed that because of my family history it was not a matter of IF but WHEN I would also get breast cancer. I looked into getting a double mastectomy and the doctors agreed it would be a good idea but the insurance company said no. So I waited and waited and waited for the ticking time bomb inside my own body. I only had to wait 6 yrs, I was 48 when I got the news. I had one small lump, smaller than a pea. I opted for a double mastecotmy. My friends thought I was out of my mind but to me it was a no brainer. Unlike my mother and my sister, I had extensive family history to work with. I was one of the lucky ones. No lymph nodes were involved so I needed no cemo or radiation. My cancer was detected early and I now have been cancer free for 13yrs. So far, 17 people in the family have been tested for the Brca gene and all but 2 have come back positve including several males. My oldest daughter tested negative so her children are free of the curse. My insurance will not test me because I have already had breast cancer so they see it as a waste of their money. My other 3 children are waiting to be tested.

Paula P
Cape Coral, FL

Trying to find humor

I found out that I had breast cancer in 2004. My Mom had died of breast cancer in 1992. So, I was very scared of getting this diagnosis, but not entirely surprised. I knew it could run in families. I had turned 40 years old and wanted to do something to honor my Mom. I decided to walk in the Avon Breast Cancer walk. It was while training for the 2 day walk that I found I that I would not only be walking to honor my mother, but I would be walking for me, too. I was able to do the walk at the beginning of July and then I had my mastectomy at the end of July. I had chemotherapy which of course made me lose my hair.

One thing through out my recovery process was trying to find humor in things. So, when my hair did begin to finally grow back in. I had lots of fun coloring it different colors. The picture I sent is Easter 2005 where I was trying to look like a painted easter egg. Well, I guess I can't load the picture. My hair was about a half an inch long and I had it striped purple, pink, blue and green.

May anyone that is diagnosed with cancer remember to accept help from others and try to laugh at least a little.

Cathy Gaughan
Concord, CA


2008, Aug, at 35 years old I was diagnosed with stage 2-3 breast cancer. In Jan 2006, I told my doctor that I had a lump with nipple discharge, she thought it was nothing. Jan 2007, I told her again and she thought it was nothing. In Aug 2008, the nipple discharge increased and the lump was much larger. I demanded a mamm and after three requests, she finally agreed. That same day, I had a mamm and it was the beginning of a long, scary process. I was in nursing school when I was diagnosed, I finished school, took the RN NCLEX, and then had my surgery. I lost both of my breast, both ovaries, and lymph nodes in the right axilla and arm removed. The chemo was horrible and being bald for a six months was not the greatest (I wore no wig), but I was a live. Ultimately, I looked at my diagnosis as a new start to life. I was able to accept the situation and turn it into something good. I was alive! It was my chance to do all of the things that I had been afraid to in the past. I no longer allowed people to treat me badly; I demanded respect and it felt great. I laughed a lot, I had fun, and forced those around me to stay positive. Finally, my biggest inspirations were God, my husband, three kids, and my cousin. The first eight weeks after the surgery were the hardest and my husband and kids got me through them.Without them, I could not have made it. I am grateful to me alive, I love life everyday. So many people die from cancer and I decided I would live my life fully as a way to honor them.

Keela Gurley
Cleveland, OH

Breast Cancer is not just a woman's thing!

Around Memorial Day weekend in 2005 we were laying around not doing much of anything when my husband asked me to feel "something" he felt in his breast. We both concluded it was probably just an ingrown hair but it never went away. In July, he had a needle biopsy and some lymph nodes removed. Needless to say on August 1st (our wedding day) we got the call that it was indeed breast cancer. By the middle of August he had a mastectomy and began a very agressive treatment of chemotherapy. Radiation treatment followed. Although all of this was difficult, two things happened that were uncomfortable - the day a nurse walked into his room (with chart in hand) and asked how "Mrs. Cramer" was doing, and that all of the wonderful items that were given to him (pillow, tote bag, t-shirt - really wonderful donations) were all pink. The only point I am making is that breast cancer is not just a woman's thing. I lost my older sister to breast cancer, my little sister to soft tissue sarcoma and my best friend to lung cancer. I will not lose my husband! It has been three years now and in four more he will be declared a survivor! I can not wait for that day.

Sherry Cramer
Denver, NC

Family Support is so important....

In July of 2008 I found a lump in my left breast and on my husband's birthday, August 1, I was told that it was cancer....After 2 surgeries, chemotherapy, another surgery and then radiation, I was pronounced "benign"! I was blessed that mine actually hurt...pain is a great motivator! Without it, I don't think I would have sought help so quickly.

I credit my recovery and my survivorship to the Lord Jesus Christ and my family. My husband was at every single procedure and every chemo treatment...He even had his hair closely cut and the breast cancer ribbon dyed into it for the time that I had no hair...My family was great and they supported and encouraged me through the entire process.

My message is what they told me the first day I went to the Hope Cancer Treatment Center for Women in Asheville...."attitude, attitude, attitude"...until I went through it, I had no idea how important your thoughts are. If you are diagnosed, keep your chin up, trust in the Lord,keep a smile on your face and look for the good things that WILL come out of it....I had no idea how great my friends and family were until I had until this happened.

At the end of my treatments, my family gave me a surprise birthday party to celebrate...everything was pink! My sister-in-law even made a cake with pink ribbons all over it!

(The photo included is of me with my wonderful husband, Robin at Christmas during my chemo treatments.)

Wendi Gregg
Asheville, NC

Ultrasounds are wonderful!

I am 42 years old and have been having mammograms since I was 35. This year was different. Thanks to the wonderful people at the Charleston Breast Center, they detected a tumor in my left breast that you cannot feel or even see on a mammogram. An ultrasound found the cancer. I am having surgery this week and feel very positive about the outcome. Hopefully every woman will benefit from early detection like I have. My words of advice are simple....don't wait to get screened. It can change your life. Without the Charleston Breast Center and their belief of taking that "extra step", this tumor may not have been found for another year or even longer. They are proactive as we all should be. Mammograms do not hurt and all women should begin getting an early screening even before they are 40. I also feel very blessed to have a supporting family and wonderful friends who are there with me. I remain positive and am looking forward to many years with my son, husband, family and friends.

Shelley Massalon
Charleston, SC

My long year

In Nov.2006 I thought I felt a lump, but of course I had the "It can't happen to me syndrome " plus with the holidays coming I put off going to the Dr.(Don't do that). So In Jan 2007 I went to my OB & He checked it out , sent me for a mammogram the next day. They did a biopsy the following day, within a week I was in with a surgeon & Oncologist.

We went with chemo first to shrink the tumor which was about the size of a grapefruit only flatter. By June it had shrunk about 3/4 its size. I had a lumpectomy & the next week I had reduction & reconstruction, then in Aug-Oct I had radiation.

I worked most days, through it all, & took 3 weeks for the surgery.

I had amazing support from my God,my church,my husband & my family & friends..Thank you all.

The hardest part was having My husband shave my head before it all fell out,although I did wear a wig .

If you feel something...Don't delay.


Vickie Keffer
Concord, NC
Springs A-Buzzz Bargains
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