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Continuing To Survive!

I am an eighteen and a half years breast cancer survivor! I have lived long enough to see eleven grandchildren and six great-grandchildren born and I am very greatful to God for this extra time on earth. I hope I can have a few more years, but if not, thanks so much for the memories, kids!

Joan Zimmer
Pacifica, CA

Supporting the Cause through Art

About four years ago, my friend, Barb, and I started making jewelry. It quickly became a passionate hobby and I suggested that we start selling our jewelry. Because we both have friends and family that have dealt with breast cancer (some survivors, some not so lucky), we decided to donate 10% of every sale to breast cancer research. Barb is an architect and I am an engineer, so we named our company, Details. We have continued to grow in our abilities to come up with unique designs and now also include hand-knotted pearls and unique wire names and wire wrapped pendants. We have also had shows where 20% of the proceeds go to a specific person (coworker, friend, neighbor, etc.) to help with their medical expenses while they fight this disease.

We hope to make a difference. Hopefully, there will be a cure for this in my lifetime.

Lisa Coyan
Lenexa, KS

Never met my grandmother...

...well, my mother's mother (I knew my father's mother for decades!); she died of breast cancer in her 30's, when my mom was only 8. I wished I could've met her, but that was before the days of mammography. My mother's always been good about getting checked up herself because of that, and she's still going strong in her mid-80's! Hope I do as well when I'm that age!

Nancy
Pasadena, CA

Survivor Story

I was diagnosed with DCIS in January, 2007 and in February, 2007 I was also diagnosed with Uterine cancer. I elected to have a lumpectomy and centinel node surgery and had 35 radiation treatments for the breast cancer and a hysterectomy for the uterine cancer. I have been taking Femara for two years and feel great. When I was diagnosed with cancer, I told my cancer team I was planning on taking a trip in 2009 with the class I advise at school. On March 28th, I am flying with my class to Orlando, Florida for a visit to Dysney World. Today, 2 years later I am a strong survior and back in my classroom teaching Health. I credit my excellent outcome to the yearly mammogram I began at age 39 when my older sister was diagnoised with invasive breast cancer. Also a strong faith in God and a strong support system helped me through. I also took the time during and after my treatment to bake goodies for my cancer team. I know they enjoyed their treats and baking gave me a focus and helped me keep a positive attitude.

Nancy Blohm
Adrian, MI

Warning!!!

On November 2, 2006, my left breast was removed due to cancer. I want to warn every one who gets breast cancer, do not let your primary care physician direct you to the surgeon to remove your breast. Go immediately to a plastic surgeon, who will remove the breast and do the implant in one proceedure. In my case, the breast was removed, and then the expander was implanted, and then the implant was implanted. Three surgeries instead of one!!! WARNING - go to a plastic surgeon to get the breast removed and the implant done in ONE proceedure. Save further surgeries, and the way the removal was done. I want to shout this to the world. Learn from my mistake. Gladys

Gladys Meredith
North Las Vegas, Nevada, NV

Get your mammograms!

Thank God for mammograms. My yearly mammogram in 2001 showed a gray shadow of my left breast on the far left side. It was nothing that I could feel. In tears I followed up with a surgeon which revealed a lump. She felt it so I could find it. I had my lumpectomy surgery on the morning of 9-11-01 (yes, during those terroist plane attacks). A day I'll never forget where I was.

After the surgery the surgeon told my husband and I that what she removed looked very suspicious. My husband would have fainted if he weren't sitting on the bed next to me. He felt sick. I took it as

well, it's gone and I feel fine.

Lab tests confirmed the next day that I had a cancerous tumor the size of a pea. It was caught early!!!!! Healing from surgery I then went on within 2 weeks to have a lymph node mapping. Thank God for early detection. Results revealed no cancer cells in my lymph nodes. I continued with 6 weeks of daily radiation tiring me out and chose to dismiss chemotherapy. I am thoroughly grateful to my gynecologist, all exams and surgeons, hospitals and radiologists that took care of me. I was 42 years old then. I am now age 50, feeling fine and celebrating each mammogram test that comes out negative. I have 5 children, 3 grandchildren and wouldn't want to have missed another day. I'm very thankful.

Tamara Andersson
Caro, MI

The Women in My Family

Twenty three years ago, my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. She had a mastectomy and was fine. Unfortunately, this was the start of my family's history with breast cancer.

In the last few years, both of my older sisters have gone through lumpectomies, chemo and radiation. Both are fine now but what a legacy!

I have been constantly on my guard since my mother's diagnosis and am happy to report that nothing has been found.

I have a very strong family and I know that if/when I am diagnosed, I will have the support of my sisters and daughter to get me through the stages.

I was there for my sisters and I know they will be there for me.

Anonymous
Elma, WA

A long, meaningful journey

I was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer in 1999. I was shocked as we had no history in the family but I've since learned that this is not that unusual. I went through a lumpectomy, chemo, and radiation and thought I was saying goodbye. But in 2005 the cancer returned. I was not very happy but didn't realize at the time that this was stage four and my life was in danger. I've read all of the stories on the internet and in magazines and know that my time is supposed to be limited. I'm actually getting to the spot in time when I should be failing but I'm not! I'm feeling great and handling the chemo well. I keep myself busy - not working as that's too tough, but lots of other things to make me feel vital. I have my first grandchild and I'm loving that. I've decided that all the statistics can take a hike - I'm not going anywhere anytime soon. I'm loving life!!

Kandy Palmeri
Lancaster, NY

Not Always a Lump

Hi! I was 35 when I had my first mammogram. My gynecologist said I had dense breasts. Calcifications were found but not in an alarming way. At 37, I had DCIS and Intraductal. There was no lump. No tumor. Not enough people know that part - that is why the mammogram and ultrasound are so important! No family history. BRACA1 was negative. Estrogen negative. Herceptin+++. 5 out of 16 nodes were positive. I had a mastectomy and reconstruction. Chemo with CEF combination. Radiation. Lymphedema followed. So did 4 years of wonderful physical therapy! That was the payoff! Thank you Melissa Donaghy! Had my ovaries removed and no more PMS - another payoff! Herceptin treatment was given 2 1/2 years after original treatment.

I worry for my niece and my daughter. Both are 14. Now there is family history. I have hope because of all the research and develpoment. Maybe I won't need to worry at all in the next few years!!

Birthdays were a negative for me. Now, I relish everyone!

Had it not been for the best gynecologist, I would not be here. If 40 was my first mammogram, 41 would have been a gamble. My doctors thought my gynecologist had wonderful forethought. Me too - thank you Dr. Carolan!! I wish I had a more profound way of giving thanks.

It has been 6 years and I will always have my fingers crossed! Life is great!

Julie Reichner Oliva
N. White Plains, NY

Laughter defeated death

My name is Lynette Taylor and I was diagnosed in September 2005 with breast cancer right after my 45th birthday. After the second operation to remove the cancer my physician recommended that I have a masectomy. She stated that there was alot of cancer and explained that she had only one other cancer patient who had that much and that was 15 years ago. I had to ask the obvious question and she told me they died. I had looked up alot of information on breast cancer and a masectomy was recommended to hold off on such an operation. I agreed and added a tram flap. A tram flap and masectomy usually last about 8 hours. After the operation the physician told me that when that had pulled back the skin on my body they saw a fast moving very aggressive cancer they nicknamed helter skelter. She stated that it was heading for my liver and I would have been dead in 2 weeks. She further explained when they pulled back the skin all of the surgeons gasped. This cancer had avoided all radar. I was told in the next upcoming months the cancer had spread to my lungs, cervix and bones. I had several operations after the masectomy and I had not healed when I started the maximum amount of chemo. I cannot explain this but I laughed and cried through the whole experience. Ten operations later and I believe cancer was the best thing that ever happened to me. I am stronger than I ever though possible. Most people didn't believe I was sick. When I would ask them why they would respond, "your always laughing and smiling. I explained I learned laughter can defeat death.

Lynette M. Taylor
Harrisburg, SC
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