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Mammography Saved My Life. Twice!

At the age of 35 I had my first mammography, a baseline they said, so they would have something to compare future ones to. They found a small tumor, the size of a pea. With three daughters, ages 2, 3 and 5, I was willing to do anything. The doctor said we would kill an ant with a sledgehammer and I was willing. I had a lumpectomy, chemo and radiation. Twenty years later, I had my routine mammography. Out of the blue they found two areas in the same breast. I am now post mastectomy. I chose a prophalactic mastectomy for the other side. I am undergoing reconstruction at this time. No chemo this time! I am here to tell you mammographies and aggressive therapies save lives. Encourage the ladies in your lives to have them. Drag them if you must!

Jan
River Vale, NJ

Stage Zero??

I had never heard of Stage "0" cancer until my annual mammogram in 2008! The computer found some cells in two areas that were suspicious looking. A computer-driven biopsy showed these cells were malignant DCIS cells. I had a lumpectomy followed by radiation therapy. The pathology report from the surgery showed NO EVIDENCE of cancer cells. How was this possible? All of the cells had been removed during the biopsy! I am still in shock over this! My oncologist was just as surprised. My surgeon made sure that I understood EXACTLY what was going on here. I found it incredible. I am now looking forward to my 2009 annual mammogram. I encourage every female I know to seek out a digital imagery mammogram. It was my salvation and could be yours too.

B J Price
Burnsville, MN

You are never too young to do SBE

I was in bed one day watching a morning show when a 28 year old woman found out that she had breast cancer during her pregnancy. I thought to myself, Oh, how horrible...by the way, let me check myself today. I was very diligent about checking myself every month. To my surprise I found a lump in my left breast. I thought, could this be right? I am only 35 years old? I got nervous and called my OB/GYN to no avail, they still weren't in. I had to wait until 10 am to get someone. When I was able to speak to someone they told me not to worry, it was probably nothing and wanted to give me an appointment for the next week. I insisted on being seen the same day. When I went in he did feel the lump, but told me not to worry because I was so young. He sent me to get an ultrasound done. It looked suspicious. He recommended a surgeon. They surgeon also assured me it was probably nothing. He removed the lump and it came back positive. It was 2.5 centimeters. I was stage II cancer with no lymph node involvement. This all took place in a matter of weeks, at my insistance. I had 8 sessions of chemo and 33 radiation treatments. To this day I am cancer free. It's two years now. Don't be afraid to be aggresive and insist on prompt attention. It's your life, take control. Thanks to my faith in God and the help of my family and friends I am a stronger woman today.

Evanguelia Galarza
Perth Amboy, NJ

Cresskill Cougar Bosom Buddies, Champions Fighting Breast Cancer

A local team for the American Cancer Society's, Making Strides Against Breast Cancer, won the hearts of many when they raised nearly $19,000 in two short months to further breast cancer research and support! Their team was 100 people strong and included entire families, children from 5 of the district's schools, 5 survivors and local community clubs, studios and businesses. The team was a perfect example of a community that came together for a cause that touches the lives of too many.

Regina Marie Morrissey
Cresskill, NJ

Thanks for great doctors!

I was bothered by several "cysts" in my left breast that I had drained over the years. I had one that continued to come back or have "debris" in it. Finally, I went to see a surgeon who suggested removing it surgically so that it would stop coming back!

In April 2000, I had surgery. It was removed and found to be forming pre-cancerous leisons -- which would have eventually turned into cancer. I am grateful to my surgeon -- who by the way, is a survivor herself -- she had a mastectomy and is a multiple year survivor!

My thanks and prayers go out to this surgeon -- she saved my life!

Kate

Anonymous
Albuquerque, NM

Know When It Feels Different!

Last year I lost 40 pounds (on purpose!). After I lost the weight, the fibrous tissue in my right breast felt a lot different. It was pushing towards the nipple, and hurt off and on. I thought I'd go for my mammogram (which I kept up with every year) and they would tell me to cut down on caffeine! They did a diagnostic mammogram, didn't see anything but dense tissue in the right breast, but wanted to have a further look at a tiny spot on the left breast. They did an ultrasound, and didn't see anything but dense tissue in the right, but wanted to re-look at the tiny shadow on the left breast. They did the biopsy, which I was sure would be fine, because 1) if it's both breasts it's not usually cancer 2) if it hurts, they say it's not usually cancer 3) no BC in my family and I'm only 45. We were even laughing while waiting for the results because "Dr. Beaver" was called over the intercom, and my husband said he must be a gynocologist!! Well, it was cancer in both sides. The MRI showed the right breast had a 5.2cm lump that was like a spiderweb in the dense tissue. The left side had a 2mm lump, that probably saved me because they kept re-looking!

After being diagnosed as Stage 3, I've been through chemo (ACT), gene testing (negative), double mastectomy with LD flap for reconstuction, and am through with 19 of 25 sessions of radiation. Then a little bit more "fixing up the girls" with a small surgery at the end, and five years of medicine and I'll be done!

I have an AMAZING husband, family, friends, and health care givers!

Know your body!!!

Traci Clancy
Florence, KY

Retirement Surprise

In July of 2007, I had just retired from 35 years of teaching and was eagerly charting my new life. The surprise of a lifetime came when a my routine mammogram showed a small tumor. After a biopsy proved positive for cancer, my exciting, new plans screeched to a halt. My family and I were lost in a daze. But, the lumpectomy went well, chemo and radiation weren't the nightmare I expected, and nine months later, my retirement plans were back on track. One amazing part of this journey has been the incredible care each health professional has given to me and my family. Without exception, doctors, nurses, and support staff have been warm, friendly, and focused on my needs. The fright and shock of cancer diminished as I realized that research and oncology are breaking it down, treating it more successfully each year. My two year survivor anniversary is coming up in July. I thank God each day for the millions of people dedicated to eradicating this evil disease, giving me a new lease on life. Hair grows back!

Catherine Cate
Johnston, IA

Be informed, not afraid

2 years ago, I found a lump in my right breast (a.k.a. "Ashley" - the other is "Mary Kate" ha ha) and immediately went to the doc. After a couple of biopsies, cancer cells were found, so I underwent a lumpectomy, radiation, and lite chemo (a.k.a. "the Fisher Price" chemo!).

At the risk of preaching, please read this:

Do self exams. It's not a big deal, just get to know what "normal" is, so you can recognize abnormal.

Years ago, a gynecologist handed me a breast model with a lump in it, so I could feel the difference. That made me go to the doc, since my lump also felt like a "frozen pea." But if you feel ANYTHING that feels even just a little unusual, go, go, GO to the doc. You can save your own life. Really.

Luckily, I had a very slow-growing and rare form, early stage 1, with no signs of it returning.

Please tell everyone you love (including yourself!) to do self-exams. This link shows you how:

http://www.cancer.org/docroot/CRI/content/CRI_2_6x_How_to_perform_a_breast_self_exam_5.asp

Thanks!

Sue

Anonymous
East Haven, CT

A history of breast cancer

The first time I felt the lump in my breast I didn't think anything of it, though there is a history of breast cancer in the family. My mother has had breast cancer twice in the last 12 years, her mother and grandmother also had breast cancer. When I finally broke down and went to the doctor for my lump....wow! My doctor had me scheduled for a mammogram the same day and by the end of the day I knew my lump was something more serious than I had ever let myself believe.

I am very proud that I didn't freak out, not until the day I got to meet the team of doctors who would be treating me. Remember I watched my mother go through this twice, so I was a little arrogant, I knew what to expect. In hindsight, I was ignorant thinking I had the same type of cancer as my mother and would be taking the same steps as her. My cancer was more aggressive and more advanced than hers had ever been. I am lucky I got compassionate doctors; my surgeon is a breast cancer survivor. But it doesn't matter how compassionate the doctors are or how prepared you think your are, you don't hear anything else but the word mastectomy. Thank God I had a sister go with me, though she was in shock like me, she did a great job at being my ears.

I finished treatment in April 2009. I look different, I feel different. I know I am not the same person I was a year ago but I am alive. The advancements in breast cancer treatment and God's love have saved me and with a little luck I will be cancer free for years to come.

Korene Witt
Fresno, CA

A Survivor's Story in More Ways than One

I was 45 and raising my 3 year old granddaughter when I went for my regular mammogram on 09/15/05. I received the "call" on 09/16/05 to inform me that there was something and there would be further tests. I went for the Compression Mammogram (translation - they just squeezed harder) on 09/26/05. On 09/29/05 I was told by my surgeon that there was only a 20% chance of cancer. I told everyone that I had an 80% chance it was not cancer. Because I was large breasted and my lump could not be felt I had to sit with my breast compressed while they shot a needle with a wire to the lump to lead the surgeon to the correct spot during the biopsy procedure. I cried for 1st time. Because the surgeon did not come to see me following the procedure I thought I was okay. However, when I got to my family I realized that I was wrong. My mother had that "look" and my daughter was crying. I was diagnosed with cancer on 10/05/05.

I was shocked when the surgeon explained I would have both breasts removed. I had a bilateral mystectomy on 10/21/05 and while I was recovering from the surgery and taking 8 rounds of chemo I was given custody of my 2nd granddaughter that was 3 months old. I still had a court battle ahead of me but she was safe.

I have been cancer free for 3 1/2 years and my granddaughters are now 7 and 4. They are the light of my life and help keep me young and strong. I have chose not to wear a prosthesis and I have not had reconstuctive surgery yet. I am contempating it but right now I am comfortable the way I am.

Lorrie Brewer
Tulsa, OK
Butterflies of Bali Short Sleeve Tunic
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