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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

Yearly Mamograms

Breast Cancer, runs in my family. My Mother, her sister, and now me.

After my yearly mamogram in August 1999, I received a call asking me to come back for a better look at something suspicious. As there was no noticeable tumor, but calcification looking like it was hanging, or being pulled down, a needle biopsy was done. In the portion of tissue removed, and under a microscope was a tiny tumor.

This tumor contained 3 types of cancer. One of the cancers, an insitsu, I was told, was not only in the right breast, but mostly likely in the left or would be. After a second opinion, and much research I opted to have a Bi-Lateral Mastectomy and reconstruction using a tram-flap.

After the removal of both breasts, the plastic surgeon used my stomach muscle, taking it up through my ribs to form my breast mounds, and the fat from my stomach filled my new mounds. I went into surgery with breasts, and I woke up with breasts. An amazing experience! It's almost ten years later, and I feel great!

My yearly mamogram and early detection saved my life. I urge every woman to be diligent about a yearly mamogram. I just shared with you how It makes a difference.

Patricia Rosenzweig
Philadelphia, PA

Supporting the Search for a Cure, One Mile at a Time

When I first decided to do the 3-Day for Breast Cancer walk in January 2008, I couldn't explain why I decided to participate except that it was something I just felt I needed to do. I did all the necessary training (up to 18 miles), did the fundraising, etc.

In July I went for my mammagram which came back abnormal. More tests were done and in August '08, I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer and it suddenly became clear, I was preparing for what was to come. I had a double mastectomy on September 23rd with tram flap to start the reconstruction. I do have to tell you to be careful what you wish for . . . One of my things was placing my hands on my hips/stomach and saying if they could just take this and move it up here (to my breasts) how cool would that be. Well they can and did. But you know what, It's not that cool after all.

All the training I had done had gotten me into the best shape I had been in in years, gave me a wonderful support group, and many new friends. Thank God! There were some complications with the stomach and I ended up with a staph infection and 3 more surgeries.

No matter, I am back to training and more determined more than ever to do the walk in October. The Breast Cancer 3-Day is a 60-mile walk over the course of three days.

I'm walking in hopes that our daughters, sons, sisters, brothers, family and friends will never have to deal with this cancer.

My new theme song . . . I Will Survive

Char Wells
Rockmart, GA

Be Thankful for the Little Things

Life has a way of slowing us down and helping us reflect on the important things. At the age of 33, I thought I had seen and been thru enough to know what life was about, but little did I know.

After being 6 months late for a routine physical, I decided to fit time into my schedule to visit my doctor. I was expecting a 30 minute visit with no problems to discuss. This was before my doctor found a mass on my left breast. I knew it was not my regular cystic problem by the look on his face. Before I knew what was happening, I had my first mammogram, ultrasound, and a lumpectomy.

I was diagnosed with stage 2 receptor positive breast cancer. It would be a month before I would know just how bad things could get.

I lost all of my hair from one chemotherapy visit, which resulted in wearing wigs for 9 months. For some reason, that was worse than the constant bone pain that chemo caused ! In many ways, it was like a punishment for having cancer. I later would undergo 7 weeks of radiation, followed by a total hysterectomy. Thankfully, cancer was not detected in my ovaries, as suspected. It was at that point I realized how to be thankful for the little things. I have been cancer free for a little over a year now. I've learned that I cannot save the world, but can definately do my part to let other young and older women know how important yearly physicals are. Please do not get too busy to take care of yourself!

God Bless!

Suzanne Usry
Americus, GA

It Isn't Easy, but it is Worth It

I had mammograms faithfully for about 15 years, then every six months when an "unusual mass" appeared in one breast. Then I was given a clean slate and no worry in March 2004. But my surgeon had scheduled a checkup in October which I decided I could cancel. Phone calls were not returned when I tried to cancel the appointment, so I went ahead with it. Lo and behold, he found a lump and stage 2 breast cancer which resulted in immediate surgery, six chemo sessions and 30 radiations. It was a ten-month commitment for a 69 year old grandma. My advice -- don't depend on mammograms but do the checking and don't cancel appointments. It is too life-changing, even when you survive. Now I have lymphedema (from the second surgery, which removed 20 lymph nodes), a compromised immune system and daily doses of anti-depressants when days are tough. Sometimes tying a knot in the end of the rope helps. It is the hanging onto the knot that is difficult. But it is worth it when I see a flower, rainbow, sunset, mountains, seashore, or visit with a grandchild or snuggle with a great-grandchild. No one said it would be easy, but it is definitely worth it. Thanks to family, friends, support groups and other survivors or I wouldn't have made it this far.

St. George, UT

My Inspiration

What keeps me going everyday, is my inspirational grandmother. Though she lost her battle with cancer, she lost it with her head held high. When she received the news of her diagnosis, she was shocked, yet optimistic. I feel very fortunate to be alive; not because I am a survivor, but because I brought the cancer to her attention. I was about one year old when I accidentally kicked my grandmother in her breast. She felt a lump and had severe bruising. She had a mammogram and was dealt with the horrible blow. But, she was always thankful for my rowdiness, because I brought the cancer to her attention before it got to be unstoppable, and remission was out of the question. She has always been an inspiration to me and always will be. I miss her, but I now know how I can help and why helping is so important. It also reminds me of how optimism is helpful. I always remember that no matter the troubles or difficulties I face, if my grandmother can be optimistic even though her difficulty was far worse than mine, so can I.

Talbott, TN

My Mom, My Hero

In Loving Memory Of Leacy Blossom!

My mom was a strong, resilient, dignified, tiny, courageous lady. When my father passed in 1998 at the age of 58, my mom became the "solid rock" for our family.

In 2005, my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. A very rare and rapid growing type of cancer.She had to have her right breast removed right away. Unfortunately, the cancer returned, this time in her chest wall. It was the size of a fist. In 2006, she immediately began chemotherapy. for a whole year three different types of chemo combinations were tried with no success.

In January 2007 she had her first seizure. The cancer had spread to her brain. They tried radiation but it was just too much for her to take.

On February 17, 2007 my mom passed away at the age of 64.

My brothers and sisters saw her slowly slipping away, but we still held out hope. We take for granted that mom will be with us always. Unfortunately that is not true. We all still miss her dearly but the life that she lived is a living legacy for us to follow. She will stay in our hearts forever!

hope mills, NC


I am 52 years old and was diagnosed with Inflammatory Breast Cancer (IBC) in 2006. It was so strange the way I reacted. I never shed a tear. I immediately started radiation. I would go in the morning, go to work, then back for more radiation after work. That was for five weeks. Then the chemo, losing my hair, being so exhausted. I don't feel like a strong person. I have God in my life and know that he has a plan for all of us. I just did not react like I thought I should have. Even my drs. were surprised. I worked as long as I could. I also got a brain tumor, a blood clot in my lung, ad had pnemonia 6 times in 2008. I just got out of the hospital with double pnemonia. I have my problems like everyone else. I am not super woman like I thought. But I have such awesome support from my family and friends. I have been through alot, but so does anyone else with cancer.It has made me realize how precious every moment is and to appreciate it. My heart is filled with love from my family. I have my soul mate (husband), 3 children, 3 grandsons, 3 sisters, my brother,my mother (my father(my guardian angel) has been with the Lord for 21 years.

I have gained so much weight and my husband tells me daily how beautiful I am. I have learned to appreciate every day, enjoy my family and friends and thank God for what he has put in my life!

Gulfport, FL

The Hand of God

I am not yet a survivor but am and have been a supporter. I was told of my first cancer almost two years ago. Saying the "C" word out loud was the first hurdle. I turned to prayer, not everyone can.

As if the cancer wasn't enough, I got a bad infection in the hospital. My immune system became shot. I had to stay away from all germs and went on a diet to boost my immune system. During this time, my parents became ill, my father died and two weeks later my son-in-law had three strokes and a seizure. Our family became closer and we prayed together and separately and felt the prayers of family and friends. It was like a gentle hug.

During this time a few weeks after the stroke, I found a lump on my breast. I thought it was nothing, but went to the doctor and he whisked me off for mamogram and ultrasound. I was booked in two days to have a biopsy. How could I tell the family? Haven't they endured enough? How do I tell my daughter?

I turned to prayer. I am terrified of bridges and during my prayer I saw a vision of our Lord on a bridge with his hand out, beckoning me to come. Of course I argued, but His hand invited me to come and so I did. His hand carried me across the bridge and carried me through my masectomy. The entire family embraced me and we survived and will continue to do so.

Lynn L'Heureux
Calgary, AB, Canada

Even the eyebrows?

It's strange isn't it that once you've had the cancer removed and you're told that chemotherapy's next, all you're concerned about is, "will I lose my hair?" rather than, "thank God I'm going to live!" Well, maybe it's not like that for everyone but, post-operation, that's what it was like for me.

I was assured countless times that I would lose my hair, but I still thought my strength of will, my pure force of personality would make those hair follicles shape up and hold on. They didn't of course, and I lost every hair on my body, yes even the eyebrows then, for good measure my finger and toenails did a disappearing act too. I never saw that one coming.

Through it all though I kept working. Yes, I needed the money, but working made me focus on other things: not cancer, not all the side effects of chemo, not mouth ulcers, not weight gain, not chronic insomnia. I focused on communications strategies, news business programmes, the shopping and ironing, all the mundane things associated with normality. And it helped. Not just me, but my three children who were 8, 10 and 14 at the time. I knew they had been frightened by the diagnosis of my breast cancer, and their world was close to falling apart, so bringing everything back to as near normal as humanly possible was my key objective - day in, day out.

It's not always easy to be positive when you feel attacked on so many fronts, but I found the sheer act of being positive was really infectious; we all became more positive as a result. I called it my virtuous circle. It could so easily been a downward spiralling one, and what would that have achieved?

Sharon Morrison
Essex, United Kingdom
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