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Angel Wings

My breast cancer returned after 7 years in 2006. I had a double mastectomy and chemotherapy and I am now a 3 year survivor. My friends and family were my "Angel Wings" during the treatment and after--their support litterly "carried me through". Our hospital Cancer Treatment Center is also one of the best--they have a Navigator Program which pairs you with a cancer survivor and helps you to walk through all the decisions, questions and procedures. The blessing of all these wonderful people in my life during this time (and following) has truly been one of God's greatest gifts to me.

Karol Gribskov
Bend, OR

MY Cacner Story Estrogen Positive Cancer

I have had mammo's since I was 40. No one in my family had ever had breast cancer. I always had my yearly mammo's on my birthday. Easy way to remember to take care of self. In 2000 had to redo a mammo, all came back well. In 2004 was told that I had calcification in breast tissue of left breast, but after the radiologist studied all the prior X Rays saw no change, was given an OK, but was told to do my self exams and to be aware of the calcifications, they were a precursor to cancer. In 2007 my mammo came back suspicious. A second mammo was done. Next a sonogram on the right breast. There was a very small cancer inside the milk duct. Then a needle biopsy was done to determine it was indeed a malignant cancer. This was done in Nov. 07. I was then scheduled for a lumpectomy, then a second lumpectomy. Each procedure had to be done in order locate the good and bad cells inside the breast. By the 21st of December I was on my way to the hospital and had gone ahead and opted to have the bilateral mastectomy. With the doctor doing an Oncotype DX test on me finding I had estrogen positive cancer, I knew that this was the only way I could have peace of mind with my breasts milk ducts being removed. I now have two wonderfully happy healthy breasts and that is the main thing. I am no longer a Rachel Welsh, the DD's are gone but I have my life and no backaches or neck issues. God is good and my Doctors were Angels.

Sandy West
Bedford, TX

I am a survivor

I was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer which had progressed to my lymph nodes Aug 2006. I had chemo before the surgery to shrink the tumours and then surgery and had my right breast removed. I then had radiation daily for 6 weeks..... I then had my ovaries and tubes removed and then March 2008 I had reconstruction and at that time had my left breast removed and muscle and tissue taken from my stomach and both breasts reconstructed. Surgery was 9 hours.... I was off work at that time for 3 months and have gradually increased my work days and am now working 4 days a week and in April I will be at 5 days a week. I am now taking Exemestane after I had tried all other of the 3 medications, tomoxifen, arimidex and femara which all did not agree with me. Although I had not said anything to my surgeons I have one breast that is lower than the other.....I thought how could I complain when they saved my life and I am so grateful I did not say anything until just the other day. I will be seeing the surgeons and see if there is anything that they can do to correct this before I have the nipple tatooing done.

I found that I was very strong emotionally throughout all of this but my crash was when I was all finished and then I had a very difficult time .....

I would like to hear from others that have gone through some of the things that I have. It would be nice to email back and forth to compare our experience.

Cathy ---- staying strong and very determined to continue to beat this cancer in hopes it never comes back.

Cathy Dunleavy
London, ON, Canada

Welcome to the Pink Side

I am a 2 time breast cancer survivor. I was diagnosed the first time in 2003. At that time, I had a lumpectomy with radiation treatments. Every day after was one step closer to that magic 5 year mark that would mean I was considered cured.

But, in 2006 I was diagnosed a second time, and I decided I wasn't going to go through that again. So I had bilateral mastectomies. I went through reconstruction surgery, and had breast implants inserted. Then four months later I developed a staph infection and had to have the implants removed.

I got some prosthesis, but I don't wear them much. I discovered I don't mind not having breasts. I'm still me, and I'm happy to still be around.

When you hear the word cancer, it seems as if your life comes to a screeching halt. You don't know what to do or which way to go. The fear is overwhelming. You're frozen in that one single moment. Eventually you will move past that moment. How and when depends on you. For awhile you will live there and wallow in self pity and fear, and that's ok, because you need that time. And you can choose to stay there and live there, or you can choose to move forward and live your life.

A friend encouraged me to write my story after my surgery, and as a result I wrote and published a book. Writing helped me to deal with my fear, and I discovered a strength I didn't know I had. Life goes on, and I hope it's going to be a long one.

Sherry Wheeler
Huntsville, AL

A Killer in the Family

We were always a close family. Nobody would ever have suspected that there would be a cold-blooded killer among us.

My mom, Rose Christopherson was an intended victim. So was my sister, Mabel, my Aunt Fern , and several of my cousins. My beloved sister, Mary Ann, wasn't able to escape its grasp and died a few years ago after fighting valiantly for her life.

The killer that stalks us is breast cancer. Although I have dodged breast cancer so far, I am also a cancer survivor. I am always aware that my life depends on being alert, proactive, and always on the lookout for our enemy. As my family felt its savage presence, I became more and more angry. Finally, when my sweet old dog Pokey died from breast cancer, I began to fight back with everything I have in me. Cancer is a worthy opponent, but I truly believe that if we band together to battle it, we will beat it.

I have channeled my anger and my energy into an effort that began as a grassroots movement. Bowling 4 the Cure was founded eight years ago as an organization dedicated to raising money for cancer research. Over the years, we have grown, and our annual Bowl-a-Thon -- held the first Sunday of October at Lakeview Lanes in Sun City -- is an event that is supported enthusiastically by the public. This year we raised $10,000 that was matched by A Greater Good, for a total impact of $20,000 of research at Mayo's.

There are many, many families in the community trying to rid themselves of a deadly foe. Bowling 4 the Cure is devoted to doing whatever it can to helping find the right weapon to bring it down once and for all.

Peggy@bowling4thecure.com

Peggy Bowers Founder of Bowling 4 The Cure
Glendale, AZ

JUST MY LUCK!

I WAS CURRENTLY WORKING FOR A SMALL TOWN PHYSICIAN AT THE TIME OF MY DIAGNOSIS. HE WAS A MAN WHO DID NOT MINCE WORDS ABOUT MUCH. ON THE DAY THAT HE RETURNED TO THE OFFICE WITH MY MAMMOGRAM RESULTS, I DIDN'T EVEN HAVE TO ASK. HE JUST SAID"YOU NEED TO CALL ALLAN(DR ALLAN LIEFER, A LOCAL SURGEON.) IT WAS JUST A FEW DAYS BEFORE CHRISTMAS, AND MY QUESTION WAS " DO I HAVE TO DO IT BEFORE CHRISTMAS, AND HE SAID "NO, BUT MAKE YOUR APPOINTMENT NOW. ON JANUARY 8, 1995, I HAD MY FIRST NEEDLE BIOPSY, FOLLOWED THE NEXT MONDAY BY A LUMPECTOMY. MY END RESULTS WERE EXTREMELY GOOD. I RECEIVED 36 RADIATION TREATMENTS AND NO CHEMOTHERAPY WAS REQUIRED. I CREDIT PART OF THIS WITH MY DOCTOR'S QUICK RECOGNITION OF THE SITUATION., PLUS ANSWERED PRAYERS. AT THIS TIME, MY OLDER SISTER WAS CURRENTLY UNDERGOING TREATMENT FOR BREAST CANCER WHICH HAD SPREAD TO OTHER PARTS OF HER BODY. SHE ULTIMATELY GAVE UP HER FIGHT IN 2000. AS A PRECAUTION, MY YOUNGER SISTER HAD THE NECESSARY TESTS TO DETERMINE HER LIKELYHOOD OF DEVELOPING BREAST CANCER AND SUBSEQUENTLY HAD A PROPHLATIC DOUB LE MASTECTOMY TO PREVENT HAVING TO DEAL WITH BREAST CANCER. WHILE SHE WAS RECUPERATING, SHE WAS DIAGNOSED WITH MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS. SO NOW WE ARE JUST FIGHTING ANOTHER BATTLE. BUT WITH PRAYER AND HELP FROM FRIENDS AND FAMILY, WE WILL SURVIVE. THE MUELLER GIRLS ALWAYS DO!

SUE MUELLER REITZ

14 YEAR SURVIVOR

P O BOX 68

COULTERVILLE IL 62237

618-758-3044

SUE REITZ
COULTERVILLE, IL

A sign

Last January I found a lump on my breast. I got in to see my Doctor very quickly. We did a mammogram and found out the lump I felt was fine, but we found a cancerous lump at the same time. I had surgery February 1, had 4 rounds of chemo, and 7 weeks of radiation. We never found out what the other lump was. It disappeared in a couple of days. It must have been a sign from above. Please don't be afraid to get your mammogram.You can get through it. I did !!!! I feel fine a year later. I now sport a full head of beautiful curly hair. Thank God for great Doctors and Nurses, but especially the support of my friends.

Linda Wildasin
Lewes, DE

I'm a Survivor

I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2001. Something did not look right during my annual mammogram. After biopsies and scans they could not quite determine IF I had cancer so my choice was to wait six months or go to another hospital for more extensive testing. After talking to my doctor I choose the extensive testing. Went to that appointment, and the next day they called me, it was cancer. Scheduled my surgery,when I had my pre-op by surgeon found another lump on the other side--I will take it out during surgery. It too was cancer. I am now 50 years old and VERY thankful. I made it to 50!! Without my mammogram I would not have known as I felt just fine. I am now a survivor! God is wonderful!

Penny Schmakel
Waconia, MN

2 year survivor

im nanette. i was diagnosed with breast cancer in june of 2007. i opted for a double masectomy, but, having no insurance, was only given a single masectomy and reconstruction. im VERY ANGRY as a taxpayer to be told NO by a dr when ive got a VERY strong family history. my mom died in her fifty's, my dads sisters both r battling it, and now my eldest sister is having a biopsy. are there any resources out there to help me? i will never have piece of mind, and feel like a ticking time bomb. PLEASE if anyone can help. thank-you for listening. nanetteh

nanette
pompano beach, FL

The day my Nightmare arrived!

In June 2007 I celebrated my 40th birthday! I can remember saying to my husband Tony, "I am going to remember my 40th year" I was not wrong!Only 4 weeks after celebrating a great party with family & friends, my nightmare day began - I had found a lump in my left breast!!

I rang the doctors surgery explained I had found a lump & got an appointment. I sat talking to my doctor who knew my family history of breast cancer - having lost my sister at the age of 34 & my mum at 65. He proceeded to say that I was being paranoid. When I asked if he could feel the lump he said yes, but its probably your hormones!! Come back and see me in a months time...

With such a strong family history I was not prepared to wait, to see if this lump went away! I contacted the breast clinic at Southend Hospital. Explained to them what I had just been told, they asked me to call the doctors again in 30 minutes. When I called back the doctor was not prepared to talk to me, but a letter would be forwarded to the clinic.

To cut a long story short after the visit to the breast clinic, mammogram & biopsy all in one day, I was diagnosed with stage II breast cancer. I had my operation to remove the tumour in August 2007, started 8 months of chemotherapy in September, followed by 5 weeks of radiotherapy. A long road, but still hear to tell the story!

The moral being, you know your own body, if you think something is wrong dont leave it. If I had taken my doctors advise, I dont think I would be here now typing my story!

Paula Dowdall
RAYLEIGH, United Kingdom
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