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Hope and Courage Can Make a Difference

When I was 39 years old I developed cystic breasts. Cystic and dense breasts can indicate a high risk for breast cancer. (Visit for more information.) My breasts became very dense, making tumor detection by mammogram difficult.

In December of 2003 I had a lymph node removed under my arm. Five days later I learned I had breast cancer. After more tests I was diagnosed with Stage IV breast cancer. I had one tiny lesion in one breast, one infected lymph node and the cancer had migrated to my liver. I was told to put my affairs in order and was put on a hormone blocking aromatase inhibitor.

I responded incredibly well to treatment and went into complete remission. However, the cancer returned, this time only to my liver. I went through a year of chemotherapy and again, went into complete remission. Through all of this I continued to run a socially-conscious business and traveled to six countries as well as saw my two beloved grandsons born. I wanted to live as long and well as possible.

However, the cancer returned once again to my liver. Quite remarkably, there was only one tumor with no other lesions in my liver. In May of 2008 I had 40% of my liver removed along with the tumor. I now have a 20% chance of a cure and am currently cancer free. I live each day in gratitude.

I share my story to give hope to women who are diagnosed with advanced cancer. It is not an immediate death sentence; we can live for many years. It is crucial to get mammograms, but it is also important to know that cystic or dense breasts are a potential red flag and to be vigilant if you are diagnosed with either of these conditions.

Patricia Rain
Santa Cruz, CA

3 Strikes

I married the man of my dreams June 18th 2008. Everything was wonderful until I got my normal yearly mammogram in October. The word "suspicious" jumped off the paper. Next came the additional views and ultrasound, the results were even more suspicious. The surgeon did a same day aspiration and 3 biopsies as there were 2 areas of concern. On November 12th I found out I had cancer. The surgeon said I had 3 strikes going in. Strike 1, strong family history. 2, 15 years of hormone pills and 3, the fact that 1 in 8 women will get breast cancer. Wow, my whole world, including my newlywed status, seemed to come to a screeching halt! My mastectomy was November 18th, my 5 month wedding anniversary. I finished chemo 2 weeks ago and in spite of several months of sickness, weakness, hair loss and depression, my husband is still here by my side. He has proven that love knows no boundaries. The last bridge is another one we will cross together, my reconstruction. They say everything happens for a reason and I believe it. Life seems more precious than ever and I am looking forward to many upcoming years with my wonderful husband and all the people who have supported me through this whole experience.

Katy Niedermayer
Kettering, OH

My DCIS story

I had a sinking feeling when the radiologist called me back for a diagnostic mammogram, the 2nd one I had since turning 40. There it was, a seemingly harmless feather-like shadow on my left breast. The following week, a biopsy confirmed that it was DCIS, one of the "better" kinds of cancer to have, if you can imagine such a thing. (Who knew there were so many types of breast cancer anyway?) It is non-aggressive, and by nature it is contained fully in the duct. The lumpectomy went smoothly with only a limited amount of discomfort.

I never lost sight of how fortunate I was to not require chemotherapy, or have lymph nodes removed. But seven weeks of radiation, even if it is "preventative" in its purpose was no picnic. After four weeks, my energy level had dropped and my skin was starting to redden and peel under my breast and arm. It was difficult to find a type of undergarment that would give me the support I needed for my large breasts that wouldn't irritate my skin or bind the areas that were affected by radiation. Being a business owner and a mother of two young children, I didn't have time to put my life on hold. With the help of my friends and family, I continued to work full time and managed to keep up with my other obligations.

But now that it is over, I feel I've been given a gift of an extra 90 minutes a day that I had been spending on the radiation treatment! The sky is bluer, and my kids are more precious. I suppose if cancer has a purpose, it is to help us appreciate all the living we have left to do.

Cindy K.
Sacramento, CA

My Friend, Victoria G.

I met my best friend Victoria around the same time she was diagnosed with breast cancer. During the course of chemo the port site became severly infected and she was hospitalized. The drs. sent her home on iv antibiotics. For 3 weeks I had to literally drag her out of bed and change the iv line 3x's a day. She was very sick but through it all she kept a positive attitude. We would have long talks about spirituality, religion, and God. There was a street light outside her bedroom window that flickered every night. When she would get scared I would tell her that as long as that light flickered she would be ok. And besides that, God knew how much I needed her in my life and He wasn't about to take her away from me! I am so proud of this woman. She is a recovering addict who is currently in school full time and raising her niece. She doesn't depend on a man to take care of her and when something needs to be done she steps to the plate and does it. Through it all whenever I have needed her, she never says "No." I love her with all my heart and I am blessed to be able to call her my best friend.

Tonya Kordonis
Ecorse, MI


My name is Mrs. Foust and this is my story. I found out I had Stage 2b breast cancer when my son, who is now 3, was 9 months old and I was only 27 years old. All of sudden, I became lost and didn't know what to do. I asked God why this was happening to me and I felt this chill come over me and I remembered how I had asked God to bring me closer to him. Well if this couldn't do it, nothing would. I suddenly regained my sense of ownership. I had to face this one way or the other. My doctor came up with a treatment plan and it was on. I made sure I did everything I was supposed to do, eating right, resting and praying. The Chemo made me very sick but I said I am going to beat this and I fought on. After the Chemo came surgery. I accepted what came my way. I had to do what I had to do. My son needed me as well as my husband. I was determined to win! I had so much support and I even completed the walk for breast cancer when I had just completed radiation. I felt great. After the RACE for THE CURE - I became MORE THAN A CONQUEROR! It was not easy - my battle against breast cancer- but I won. Whatever battle you are facing in life, my meassage to you is "You are more than a conqueror - you are a WINNER!!!!!!!! Always fight the good fight - It will be well worth it.

Indianapolis, IN

A Generation Lost, A Generation Saved

My grandmother died from cancer when I was a very little girl. I honestly don't know what kind of cancer it was because by the time they found it, the cancer had spread beyond saving. She finally went into the doctor because her foot was hurting her as the cancer had spread to her heels and now I don't know anything about my grandmother except her name and her fight with cancer. Please get regular mammograms and support and give to those who try to but can't afford them. Don't let this story be yours too.

My mother, who is my life's blood and best friend, has also had scares with breast cancer. However, she gets regular mammograms that helped stop another tragedy in our family. I whole-heartedly support the breast cancer site for helping women across the nation detect breast cancer early so they have an upper hand in the fight against this disease that does nothing but hurt and take from its victims and their families.

Moore, OK

I'm 36 and I have Breast Cancer

I noticed the lump in my left breast about a month a so ago. went to the doctor on April 3, 2009, followed by a mammogram, a biopsy and then on April 9, 2009 I found out I had breast cancer. It started in my milk ducts, the same milk ducts that used to get clogged while I was breast feeding my daughter. It's in stage 3 and I have to have masectomy. My Dr. said I was young, but I'm here to tell you Cancer knows no age.

I want you to know I am Fine, Fabulous and a Fighter. I refuse to let this defeat me. I was once told You need to stop waiting for the storm to pass, and learn to dance in the Rain, and that's what I plan on doing...

Tamiko Edwards
Twin Cities, MN

My Mom, my heart...

My mom is a survivor, 3 times breast cancer. She's been cancer free for 6 years now!!!!!!!!!!!! I love her, and she is my strength. Thank God for my mom.

Potosi, MO

Downwind Victim

My sweet mother always told us we would never have cancer because no one in our family had cancer. What a wonderful dream, but not true. Our own government gave her cancer. They had set up nuclear testing about 50 miles from our small town of Tonopah, Nevada. My brother even drove security trucks around the perimeter of the site and in the tunnels where the uranium was being tested and bombs exploded. My mother died when she was 80 years old after fighting cancer for three years. I helped her get a lawyer and made sure she had all the paperwork to send to the government to make sure she got all the fifty thousand dollars that they offered her for destroying her life. My brother died two years ago, with several causes for his death, and I am not sure if he had cancer or not, but he had a great deal of bad health problems. When we were in junior high school, in Tonopah during those tests (the above ground ones). We were taken out of classes to watch the mushroom cloud go over. I have been blessed, so far I do not have cancer.

Florence, OR

diagnosed with breast cancer at 27 years old

At a routine OB appmt I mentioned that I had a lump in my breast. After an exam the doctor said that it was probably a clogged milk duct and she recommended to try a hot pack or warm water in the shower to try and loosen it up. She thought it was highly unlikely that it was breast cancer because of my age and because I had no family history of breast cancer. I asked for an ultrasound anyway to be on the safe side. 2 months later I had an ultrasound, which turned into a same-day biopsy since the doctor couldn't really tell what he was looking at. A week later I was diagnosed with ductal cell carcinoma in situ (DCIS), which meant that the breast cancer was in the milk duct, stage 0 cancer. Following my mastectomy a tissue analysis found that I actually had small amounts (2 mm) of invasive breast cancer, stage 1. I think that awareness is important even for young women. All of the doctors that I saw made a comment about me being too young. There is no such thing. Be aware of your body and any changes that might occur. No one can be too safe.

I have been cancer free for 1 full year now....hopefully many more.

Los Angeles, CA
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