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Lola

"Remember, big girls don't cry." That was the last sentence I heard Lourdes' weak voice mumble through my sobs and sniffles. It was 1988, I was six years old, and little did I know that this once routine goodbye would be the last time I saw her. Just a year earlier she had been diagnosed with breast cancer; she was 30 years old.

For a single mother of two young daughters living in her mother's home, the news could not have been more devastating, and in her case, too late. With the benefits of early detection forgone she underwent a mastectomy. Several rounds of chemotherapy followed along with new hairstyles in the form of several short shag wigs. She tried desperately to retain a semblance of normalcy and to keep her little girls oblivious to the disease that was consuming her young life.

The ignorance of youth blessed me with only the best memories of my mother but, I remain haunted with tragic memories of the disease that claimed her life. As I grew older, my intense curiosity about this deadly killer was driven by a passion to help fix where I felt wronged. I have become a missionary against this disease; educating friends on early detection and awareness, telling my story to whomever will listen. To prevent another child from having to pick out their mother's tombstone instead of shopping for prom dresses together I have dedicated my life to cancer awareness.

As I tried to wipe the flowing tears from my eyes that day, I realized my mother's fight was not over; it had just begun within me. The most arduous experiences can create the greatest rewards as I hope that my passion for her life will give hope to others and perhaps save the life of another.

Jennifer
Orlando, FL

My Mom, The First

How do you take it all in? How do you comprehend the words Breast Cancer? I can't! I have worked in hospitals for years and I have seen the brilliant strides we have made in treated this disease. I know those who have survived and I know those who couldn't fight any longer. What I never knew, was a family member who had Breast Cancer, until now, until three weeks ago, my mom is the first in our family, not because of genetics, but hormone therapy the doctor told her. At 71 years old, my mom just had a Radical Mastectomy, now the fight begins, or not. This is her fight, our fight, your fight and I want my mom to win!

Jean Kester
Aberdeen, WA

Yearly Mammograms Essential

Hello, I am a ten year breast cancer survivor only because I got my yearly mammogram. My lump was not palpable (could not be felt) Thank God I went for my yearly mammograms. I have a history of breast cysts, having had two removed from my right breast, these were palpable. After a very tiny suspicious spot showed on a mammogram (left breast) the doctor said we will check it again in a year and see if it has grown, it had so I went in for a lumpectomy which proved to be cancer. Two days later I had a wide excision done, ( a larger portion of breast and lymph nodes removed), fortunately the lump was only the size of a quarter and the cancer cells were contained within that area. I was told radiation was a given but chemo was an option I could also have. After hearing the statistics of possible reoccurance with and without chemo I opted for the chemo, I had ten grandchildren I wanted to see grow up. I praise God everyday that I made that decision for I am alive to see my grandchildren, now thirteen of them, grow and mature. I have three daughters, two of them get their mammo's yearly, the third one is a very stubborn woman and will not go, I Pray that she never gets breast cancer or the other ones or any of my ten grandaughters. I pray that they will find a cure for breast cancer so that no one ever has to suffer like so many of us has.

My faith in God has helped me through some very tough times, this being one of them. Keep your faith, pray and above all get your yearly MAMMOGRAM.

Happy & Healthy

Dorothy

Avoca, Penna.

CANCER FREE

Dorothy Welter
Avoca, PA

Never go againt your feelings

I was doing my monthy breast check when I discovered a small lump next to my rib cage. My mom had a radical mastectomy at 38. I was 42. I placed a call to my doctor she could not feel anything. I was so sure there was something there she sent me for a mamogram. Nothing showed up on the mamo. I insisted we go the next step. I was sent for an ultrasoud. Again, the test showed nothing. Next step was to have a biopsy. I went to see the surgon, she has learned to trust her clients know their bodies. On November 11, 1999 the area I indicated was removed. When she called with the results, she had tears in her voice and said to me " I can't believe I am telling you this, but you were right. we found cancer." I was not surprised. I returned for a lumpectomy and was given temoxiphen with no cemo or radiation. They felt due to the size of the cancer and the fact that I was only 42 I was better off not doing any additional treatment. I am now going on my ten year anniversary and am so grateful that I stuck to my guns and insisted in removing the lump. Had I not, who knows. It is quite possible I would not have been here to share in walking our daughter down the isle and any other wonderful things God has in store for me and my loved ones. No matter what, trust your gut and don't take no for an answer if you feel there is something that needs to be addressed concerning your health don't stop until you are satified of the results.

Angel Blessings to you all.

Anonymous
Beverly, MA

Whew! Cancer, Cure and Angels

Early in October I listened as my surgeon delivered the news to me. Cancer. Small. Stage 1. Lumpectomy and Radiation. No chemo. "We're not just looking at treatment, but Cure." All I zoned into was Cure, with a Capital C.

Start praying! Fortunately my Radiation Specialist clearly described options for radiation and with research before surgery, I was prepared to make the choice for brachytherapy with the Mammosite System. Finding no additional cancer in the sentinel node, my surgeon prepared the site for the Mammosite catheter at the same time.

The first week of October, cancer diagnosis delivered.

On Halloween, lumpectomy and sentinel node dissection.

On November 26th, the final radiation treatment. I spent the next day enjoying Thanksgiving dinner with friends, and I surely had a lot to be thankful for. Whew!

I was very lucky and never felt sick. Wasn't sure if I was really tired or enjoying being home and a little lazy.

My story isn't typical, but it can be. With a yearly mammogram allowed on my health care plan, I take advantage of it. No excuses! Absolutely follow up on any change since last year. Early detection led to what I believe is my Cure. And nothing can compare to having all of the Doctors and Facilities working together to my goal of Cure.

I know I had angels walking with me. God put one in the hospital hallways as I went to a biopsy alone. And He put one in the doctor's office when I needed someone to learn to dress my catheter and a friend said "I'll be there for you" then saw my left breast ten minutes later. I know my sister-in-law is my angel who flew 800 miles so I wouldn't go through surgery alone. Oh, those angels are everywhere!

Ellen Edwartoski
Lincoln, RI

Self-exams important

Three months after being told my mammogram was fine, I found a lump doing a breast self-examination.

I tried to ignore it, but when "Breast Cancer Awareness" month came that year I made the appointment, and ultimately found out I had a very aggressive type of cancer.

That was in 2000 and I'm happy to report that between surgery, radiation and chemo I am cancer free.

Those four words became my mantra and I still repeat them whenever fear hits.

So please do your exams, if you find something get it checked out and if you do get diagnosed, think positive.

And pray for a cure!

Anonymous
Battle Creek, MI

My Mom, My Best Friend

My mom lost my dad in 1999, a sister in 2000. She was diagnosed with breast cancer in May of 2001. She had to have a radical. Six months later in November of 2001 I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I took care of my mom when she had surgery and she took care of me when I had mine. She is a speical mom, not only to me but to a lot of other people. I nominated my mom for a Remarkable Mom on Channel 13 TV and she was selected as the Mom of the Month for April. The TV crew came out and taped she and I and it was on television. My mom is, always has been and will always be my best friend.

Patsy pear
Milledgeville, GA

A Complete Surprise....

In October of 2008, I was at the doctor for my annual pap exam and the doctor asked about family history of breast cancer. My maternal Aunt was diagnosed at 36, but after an up and down battle with breast cancer, she pasted away at 42. Due to the story, my doctor decided to order a mammogram for a base line since I was 36, but things should be fine. A week later, I had the digital mammogram and thought all was well. Three days later, a nurse called to have me come back for more images. I would have a digital diagnostic mammogram and stay for immediate results from the doctor. After 10 minutes, the doctor called me to another room to inform me that they have decided to send me for a biopsy. The two radiologist saw some calcifications which are suggestive of breast cancer. I was shocked. My life had changed in just 10 minutes.

My first sterotactic biopsy was done and in a week it was confirmed, I had stage 0 Breast cancer. Really good prognosis, but still breast cancer - I was still in shock, but keeping it together. Further testing showed possibly more cancer, another biopsy, but luckily, that was benign. I would only need a lumpectomy followed by 5 weeks of radiation.

I have thanked my doctor sincerely for taking the time to listen and ordering that mammogram. Had I waited until I was 40 years old to have that done, the doctors said that my prognosis would have been worse.

I think of my Aunt, her courage and strength, to have gone through so much, but I know that she helped me today.

Angie DeBoo
Wheaton, IL

So Young To Be Taken So Soon

I have a close friend at work who lost his daughter to breast cancer. She had just recently married and was making plans to start her new life when she recieved the terrible news that she had cancer.

Her family, friends, and especially her father, were devastated, and all were left wondering how this could happen to someone so young and vibrant. She was just beginning her new life as a wife with the hope in her heart of becoming a mom, but this was not hand she had been dealt. Shannon would have been a wonderful mother. She fought a valiant fight but unfortunately, one that was lost.

She was the apple of her father's eye and he (as well as everyone else) was left wondering . . . why? There were no answers, only that God seemed to have another plan for his little girl, Shannon. What could that plan possibly be? We may never know, but we can try to find some solace in knowing that God took this very young woman because she was part of a much bigger plan.

Shannon touched many lives in her far too short life. I know that she was an inspiration to many. Her smile could light up a room. She amazed us all with her inner strength.

Because of Shannon, I hope that others will realize just how important mammograms really are and that early detection is so very important. Shannon, without a doubt, has left her imprint here with us, and maybe because of this, she will help to save many, many lives.

I can't help but wonder if this was part of his bigger plan.

Marcia
Littleton, NH

Surviving breast cancer

Hi, I am Mary Anne Cook,

On September 16 of 2003 I was diagnosed with breast cancer in my left breast. I had a left mastectomy on the 29 of September 2003 and have survived. Thank God I had my yearly mammogram and it was caught early. The support from my 3 daughters, Granddaughters, Sister, Aunt and nieces has helped me greatly.

I encourage everyone to get that mammogram. It could save your life. I survived, my sister in law didn't. Remember no one has to die from breast cancer it is Curable.

My sister in law died from breast cancer in June 2000. She left behind 5 children the youngest being 13 years old, and 3 grandchildren. She has 5 more grandchildren born after her death. They will never know their grandmother. She didn't have to die from breast cancer. If she had just had the surgery when they found it she might still be alive today enjoying all 8 of her grandchildren.

Don't delay, get that mammogram today or as soon as you can.

Mary Anne Cook
Frankfort, IN
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