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What A Difference A Year Makes

Exactly one year ago on June 20, 2008, I had my first chemo treatment for breast cancer. At Age 61, I was ready to retire from the school district and enjoy some time off with my family and friends. We have a "Health Fair" at our district every year in April, where we can take advantage of health tests offered at a reduced rate. So, I thought that I should have my routine mammogram (which I did every year) to make sure everhthing was okay before "officially" giving notice of my retirement. A few days after the mammogram, I received a call that I needed to come back in for a "closer" look at a dense area.

After another mammogram, a sonogram, and a biopsy on my left breast, I received the dreaded call that comfirmed that I had "Invasive Ductal Carcinoma" (Breast Cancer). There were no words to describe my feelings at that moment. I was numb! Devastated! What about all of my plans?

Now one year later, after 6 rounds of chemo, 6 1/2 weeks of radiation, and a year of herceptin treatments (because my tumor was HER2+, not Estrogen+), I feel great! I can now make those plans, or any other plans that I want!

I thank God everyday for that mammogram. It literally saved my life.

Debby Benner
Carrollton, TX

Medical miracle

My grandmother was the most stubborn person you would have ever met.. When I was 11 and i remember this clearly, my mother noticed the discomfort she was in. (Nobody was aware of this- but she has gone undiagnosed for 4 years prior to that) After all the stuffing in her shirt, her breast were shriviled and had open sores. Agaist her will she was taken to the doctor. She refused all treatment and doctors gave her a year at most. 10 years later, she hurt her back cleaning under her sofa. She was hospitalized and doctors said the cancer has spread to her bones. Again, doctors told us to start making funeral arrangements that it would be any time now. As a medical miracle once again, 2 years after that she moved in with us clearly in bad shape. Hospice came every day for the next year until she peacefully passed away in her sleep. She lived 14 years with out treatment- her determination to live kept her alive.

I love and miss you grandma.

michelle
Rahway, NJ

GOD PUT US HERE TO LIVE, NOT TO DIE

I canceled my mammogram appointment in December until Jan. I was tempted to move the appointment again but something said don't do that you have always gone faithfully every year, I was 58 at this time. I went for my mammogram in Jan 1998 they thought every thing was ok but I had two phone calls from my doctor to call them about my mammogram. I knew there was a problem as they had never called before when I had a mammogram. I went to see the doctor that afternoon and was told that the small bead like calcium had changed shape and I needed to see a surgeon to have a biopsy done. I went that week to see a lady surgeon my doctor recommended. The doctor told me she only did biopsies with surgery not needles. They did two more mammograms on me inserting a wire where the surgery needed to be done. The surgeon did a lumpectomy removing the area and while waiting for the report to come back the surgeon felt all under the breast and found a hard spot which was a tumor which was ready to burst, she removed the tumor (lumpectomy) After having seven weeks radiation I have been cancer free for ten years. My pastor told me it was ok not to want to die as God put us on earth to live not to die.

I can tell you at the time I would have gladly given up a breast in order to have life. I thank God he has allowed me to be cancer free for all this time as I have had 3 precious grandchildren I would have never known.

Carol
Oklahoma City, OK

Aimee's Story

I was 29 years old. Casually having conversation when I had a dull pain just above my right breast. I reached up to rub out the pain. I then felt the lump. 2 days later I am in my OB/GYN's office. He wanted to make sure it wasn't swollen breast tissue, so off I went - told to come back in 2 weeks if it hadn't gone away. Upon my return, he wasted no time. Immediate referral to a general surgeon, who wouldn't even see me unless I had a mammogram first. Because it was so high on the breast, the mammogram was inconclusive. The next day I had an ultrasound. Once my surgeon received the results of the ultrasound, he told me that the tests showed that the mass needed to be removed. Had a scheduled lumpectomy and a week later got the C diagnosis. I chose to have a mastectomy when they went in to get the lymph nodes. Then came 4 cycles of AC, the loss of all my precious hair and feeling crappy for 2 months on and off. 6 months after treatment I decided to remove the healthy breast and begin reconstruction. Unfortunately the skin grafts used for the areola for the nipple reconstruction didn't take and I wasn't satisfied at how they appeared. I enjoy tattoos and body art in general so I designed a piece that would cover every scar I had. I found an amazing tattoo artist named KELLY McRAE of SKIN DIMENSIONS in Winnipeg. I presented him with my idea and said - "Sure, when do you want to start?" He brought my drawing to life and gave me my confidence back. It's been 8 years NED now, and looking forward to many more! I am proof early detection is key!

Aimee Horbul
Winnipeg, MB, Canada

Aunts that can!

In 1977, my maternal Aunt Grace in Mobile, AL, had a radical. That's all that was done "back then". Well, 32 years later, she will turn 96 this coming December. Another courageous woman whose rich legacy lives on!!

Anonymous
Flagstaff, AZ

I can make a difference

This year, I finally did it. I lost 120 lbs and was able to walk in the AVON 2 day walk for Breast Cancer. It was the most gratifying experience that I have ever had. I have wanted to do this for the longest, but was never physically capable. The reason why: My Aunt was diagnosed about 18 years ago and given only months to live. She fought and has won her battle so far. My husband's Aunt lost her battle and a good friend, just this year lost her battle. So what am I doing about it. I'm walking again next year. Because I know I can make a difference. What am I asking from you. Well, in order to participate, you must fundraise, so I am going to try to put together a Tribute / Cookbook to those affected by breast cancer. If you are interested in contributing a story/tribute/recipe, please email me at booksforboobs@yahoo.com

I want to make a difference and I know together we can.

Lisa Zeigler
Cambridge, MD

My Cancer

Hi My name is Juanita

I have had some experiences with cancer. In Nov. around the week of Thanksgiving I had lost about 30lbs. I went to the emergency room and my sugars were really high. They put me on insulin and it got better. I was having trouble with my stomach, they did a CT Scan and found out that I had a mass on my pancreas. I was sent to a surgeon and he ordered another CT scan & biospy to see if he could do surgery because he was afraid it would be too close to my liver or arteries. I did have the surgery which he removed my spleen and half of my pancreas. There was cancer in the lymphnodes. When I was in the hospital for a week at Thanksgiving I felt a lump- around my breast. I didn't say anything until I went back for my check up for the pancreas. My dr. did a biospy and it was cancer but not in the lymphnodes. He removed the lump. I had a mammogram done in Dec. but it didn't pick up the lump because it wasn't close enough to detect it. Now I am getting ready to take radiation for both for 5 days a week for 6 wks. Chemo for 6 months for the pancreas which I am doing at home through a IV in a port. It's suppose to not make me sick I hope. I need everyones prayers. Pancreas cancer is very har to find and usually its too late but mine was only in the 2nd. stage and I feel good about the rest of my life.

This is my story.

Juanita Hardin
Louisville, KY

A Flame of Hope

I'm a 39 year old actress, living & working in Rome, Italy. Two years ago I felt a hard lump in my right breast as I was applying body lotion after a shower. I had a sonogram & a mammogram & was diagnosed with breast cancer, resulting in a mastectomy. Luckily my lymphnodes (which were all removed as a precaution) were all clear, which meant I skipped chemo & went straight to the hormone therapy, which I'm still taking. I'm an optimist by nature so I wish to encourage all women to test themselves regularly, making it part of their daily routine, whilst applying lotion for example...which is what has made me a cancer survivor.

We can draw some strength from the people nearest to us (just as I did & I will be eternally grateful to my boyfriend Stefano for being so amazingly supportive, loving & keeping my spirits high before, during & after), but ultimately the strength we need is within ourselves. And we don't know we have it, until we need it... even to deal with the occasional friend or family member who looks the other way, unable to cope with the "ugliness" of cancer.

Flaminia is an ancient roman name, meaning "little flame"... I therefore trust my flame will give someone hope & courage.

Flaminia Fegarotti
Rome, Italy

My Sister

Whenever our sister said she had breast cancer we were shocked. no-one in our family for generation ever had any type of cancer. All of the sister had been treated for fibroid tumors and we take 1000 units of Vitamin E for that, but never breast cancer. It seems we carry that gene. My sister is doing great even though she has other health problems. she never weakend or gave up hope and her husband was right by her side.

How many was can u say thank you, my small way is supporting this web site.

Anonymous
Rudy, AR

Don't hesitate to check out suspicious lumps

I was 43 years old and it was Christmas morning 2006 when my husband noticed a lump in my breast. Besides ruining the "mood", I was more concerned with my daughters getting up to see what great wonders this Christmas would bring. I have my annual Mammogram in the Spring (I use my birthday as a reminder) so didn't think much of it. After the "rush" of the Holiday Season, I called the doctor to check out this lump. It took the radiologist 7 different angles on a mammogram to find a 3.2cm mass deep in my right breast. A breast MRI and PET scan showed there was a second lump (2.8cm) behind it and all my lymph nodes were infected. The scan also showed a lump in my neck and speckles behind my breastbone that were sure signs of the cancer spreading. After the biopsy confirmed the worst, I was diagnosed as stage 3 breast cancer in mid January. My Oncologist said if I did not have the lump checked out right away, the cancer would have spread throughout my body by March and I would probably not survive much after June of that year. He also told me that 85% of all breast cancer can be cured, but, the women who don't react to a lump or unusual mammogram become unnecessary fatalities. So after 16 months of Chemo, 37 treatments of Radiation, a double Mastectomy and reconstruction, I am finally on my way to recovery. I now cherish each day God has given me with my family and friends, knowing they are truly blessings.

Traci Kluver
Pleasant Prairie, WI
Flurry of Savings
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