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Trip Through Cancerland

I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1994. I chose a modified mastectomy with reconstruction to be done at the same time. Chemo therapy was the next step followed by five years of Tamoxifen. The chemo therapy was the worst part because of the side effects. Loss of hair, appetite, and energy.

During my "Trip Through Cancerland" I had a kidney stone surgically removed, though I had never had the problem before; found out the hard way that I was allergic to the dye they use for a c-scan; was allergic to an acrylic stint used in the kidneystone episode; came down with antibiotic associated colitis; and must now caution doctors for the rest of my life that my body has had this problem.

Fifteen years later I am happy to say that I am a survivor and know that cancer does not own me. A positive attitude, faith, the love of family and friends brought me through.

I had my surgery on the 3rd of March and every year I celebrate that date as my re-birth day. Life is good!

When I know of someone who has been diagnosed with cancer I send them greeting cards to brighten their day. I do this because I enjoyed receiving cards from friends during my trip through Cancerland. A card is not as intrusive as a phone call or a drop in visit. It can be opened when you feel up to it.

Grace Sloan
Escondido, CA

Sue's story

I was diagnosed with breast cancer on 9/11/07 and my dad was diagnosed on 9/13/07 with cancer. I live 4 hours away and couldn't burden my mom with my news, so I kept my secret for the next few months. We decided that our kids needed to see their grandfather before he died, so we went to Maryland. That weekend I had to tell my mom because I was going to have to do chemo. It was really hard to hurt her heart that much. My dad passed away November 2, less than 15 hours after I left to come back home. So I turned around and went back. The week of Thanksgiving, mu oldest had knee surgery, my port was placed and December 3rd, I started chemo. Within 2 hours sick as hell. My mom was with me and it was very difficult. January 25th, my brother in law was killed in an automobile accident. I went back to my old job and asked for my job back and after 3 visits of asking for my job, I was told he wouldn't give it back. So I think God had tested me as far as I think he thought he could. And then my youngest son was in an accident that he flipped my truck on Christmas Eve. Today, I am still feeling the affects of the cancer with having to do physical therapy. Cancer changes a person's outlook on many things. Though it kicked my butt, I think I am stronger than I thought I ever could be. My family supports me completely and my boys are my greastest joys. They wear cancer sweatshirts and sport stickers they had made on their trucks. God has made me a much stronger person. And life is too short.

Susan Gatliff
Chesapeake, VA

A Double Whammy at our house

In 1994 I had breast cancer and had a lumpectomy on Aug. 3, 1994.

On August 5th, 1994 my husband had a massive stroke which left him paralazed on his left side. There was a black cloud over our house that would not go away.

Unfortunately, he only lived for two years. I took care of him for 2 years and operated a daycare business at my home while doing 6 weeks of radiation. Had 2 more occurances and am still here 15 years later. Dr. MaryJane Houlihan from The Breast Center at Beth Israel Hospital in Boston, Mass. was my breast cancer surgeon and I consider myself very lucky to have had her. She studied under Dr. Susan Love.

I remember what it meant to have support from family and friends back in 1994. I am only too glad to click on the Breast Cancer Site every day. That it the very least I can do.

Maureen F. Watts
Pembroke, Mass., MA

My Best Friend's Journey

My name is Nancy Sharpe and this story is about my best friend. The following paragraph is from a blog written by Ashley Neal about her mother.

"My amazing mother, Barbara Neal, was diagnosed with Breast Cancer on October 2, 2008. After changing doctors, many mammograms, ultrasounds, tests, biopsies, MRI's, and countless trips to the Winship Cancer Institute at Emory, we finally know what type of cancer she has and are now ready to start the battle! She has been diagnosed with a rare type of breast cancer called Triple Negative Metaplastic Carcinoma. She tested negative for the 3 main breast cancer receptors (the fuel that "feeds" the cancer)- the Estrogen Receptor, the Progresterone Receptor, and the HER2 protein receptor, thus the name Triple Negative. Metaplastic Carcinoma is a rare sub-type of Invasive Ductal Carcinoma. This type of cancer has an aggressive nature so mom and her team of gifted doctors are going to attack it head on! It is going to be a long battle but I have no doubt that with God, family, friends, doctors, along with my mothers fighting spirit, this is a battle she will WIN!"

Barbara has only two more chemo treatments to go. She will then have a lumpectomy and radiation. Hopefully, by July 1, 2009, Barbara will be cleared of cancer. It has been a long hard battle for her. I have had the blessing of taking her to Emory hospital for many of her chemo treatments. We have been friends for over 37 years. I wanted to go through this journey with her. The picture is of Barbara and I at Emory for one of her treatments.

Nancy Sharpe
Sharpsburg, GA

Survivor

I had quit my job to go back to school and earn a teaching certificate. I finished my year of internship and was ready to complete my master's degree and start the first year of my new career. I had a routine mammogram which showed tiny dots of concern. Further testing and biopsy confirmed cancer. I had 3 children and was headed to a new life -- how was this possible? One year later, I had survived a mastectomy, chemotherapy and was taking tamoxifen. Life was good.

Four years later another mammogram, and another cancer. Not a recurrence, but a new cancer and a much more aggressive one. Another mastectomy, more intensive chemotherapy and a summer of radiation. But now it is seven years later, and I am a survivor.

I have seen my three children graduate from high school, and two of them graduate from college. My oldest is married and my youngest is going off to college. My husband and I are looking forward to travel and empty-nesting. My life is full.

Anonymous
Albuquerque, NM

I'm a breast cancer survivor of 15 months

My story; I had been working with the A. C. S.'s Relay for Life events for 6 years as Luminary Chair for the Town of Fletcher in Western North Carolina and now Henderson County. My grandmother died of breast cancer in 1956, so I knew it was in my family. My husband had died of cancer and my brother is a 9 year thyroid cancer survivor. I had my yearly mammogram in December 2007 and received a call for additional views. The radiologist wasn't satisfied with those; did an ultrasound to look further; still not convinced and said I could have it watched or do a biopsy. With my work with Relay I said do the biopsy please. Four days before Christmas 2007 my doctor called to tell me that I had breast cancer! Of course I was shocked and cried. My doctor said it was early but we needed to get it taken care of immediately. He referred me to a wonderful surgeon in Asheville and within a day I was being seen by Dr. Robert Moffatt who explained all my options and wanted my answer the day after Christmas if I would have a masectomy or a lumpectomy. I decided on the lumpectomy with the 35 radiation treatments. My oncologist said chemo would only increase survivor rate 2 to 3% so I didn't have it; I take a hormone pill for 5 years. My family, boyfriend, and friends rallied around me as well as my Relay family and my mamogram last November was great. My family and friends remarked about my positive attitude, but I knew everything was going to be fine with God and my doctors seeing me through this! I want to see my grandchildren grow up! I can't stress enough early detection is important!

Jan Sherlock
Hendersonville, NC

My Cancer Survivor Story : )

I found a tiny lump on my left breast, after two mammograms, a sonogram with an awesome surgeon, and a lumpectomy, I was diagnosed with Stage III Breast Cancer on March 5, 2007. I chose to have a double mastectomy although the cancer was only in the left breast. I had three types of cancer and an over 5 cm tumor very close to the chest wall. Two of ten lymphnodes were matastisized.

I had four rounds of Adriamycin/Cytoxin chemotherapy, 12 rounds of Taxol chemotherapy, then 33 radiation treatments. I am taking Tamoxifen and will be until 2013.

I finished my treatment November 30, 2007. I have had two follow up appointments and my tumor marker has lowered each time. I go again in June, 2009.

I am very blessed with an amazing supportive family who took excellent care of me during my treatment. My faith in God and belief that his will be done also kept me quite strong.

I met some absolutely incredible people during my journey and though it sucked, I know I have grown into a better, stronger, more loving individual because of it.

Years ago people did not survive breast cancer. How awesome to have this disease in a time when medical advances can save your life.

Wow, I feel blessed.

May God bless all of you.

Lori Madden
Wichita Falls, TX

Self Exam Pays Off

About 2 yrs ago, I did a self exam, and discovered a discharge from my rt nipplle. I went to the Dr, and he opted to check it out in surgery. He corrected the discharge problem, and did a biopsy, The path report came back showing Ductile Carcinoma Insitu (a pre cancer condidion) However, the margins of the specimen were not clear. He went back in, and that report also came back with unclear margins. Rather than face repeated biopsies, I opted to have a mastectomy. The reeport came back on that and the pathologist said that was the only way we could have got it all. I just thank the Lord for the early discovery, and continue to have regular mamograms to make sure that the left breast is healthy.

Merideth L Berkovich
The Dalles, OR

Base Line Mamogram Saved me

I had my baseline mammogram the end of May in 1991, right before Memorial Day. I received a call from my doctor a couple of days later to have a biopsy, my mammogram looked suspicious on my left breast, I had my biopsy and was diagnosed with breast cancer on June 7th, 1991 right after my 40th birthday. I had a mastectomy on June 21st. and went through 8 rounds of chemotherapy, as of today I have been cancer free for close to 18 years. Do not put off your Mammogram it is probably the easiest life saving test you'll ever have take.

Paula Bibbs
Glendale Hts., IL

My Hiccup in Life

Not everything you preceive is bad turns out that way. I found my lump on October 1, 2007. It was the size of a pea. There is no breast cancer in my family, but I had it checked. I had a biopsy (which was awful). It was cancer. I had a mastectomy a week later and the tumor had gone from a size 3 to a 9 and all but 2 nodes. It was a fraction of an inch from my chest wall. So I did 8 rounds of chemo and 33 radiations. I only missed 3 days of work. The day of my mastectomy, 1/2 day the day after my surgery and one Saturday that my husband insisted I stay home.

The reason I was able to go through all this was because of ALL the support from my wonerful family and loving friends. I am now cancer free! It was a year of fears, tears, and many cheers.

Kerrie - age 49

Kerrie
Anaconda, MT
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