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Breast Cancer and Personal Growth

While I would never recommend that someone get breast cancer, I found that it was growth and learning experience for me. I am fiercely independent rarely asking or accepting help. But breast cancer changed that. People really wanted to help. I found that it was okay to say yes. It opened my eyes to possibilities I didn't dare think before.

A brief story about this exprience: I remember walking the survivor lap around the reflecting pool at Celebration on the Hill. There were all these people around the pool cheering us on, high fiving and congratulating us. I wish anyone reading this has an experience (the walking, not the cancer) such as this once in their lifetime. The absolute sense of community and love was almost overwhelming.

I would be remiss if I didn't recognize a very good friend who came with me to my chemotherapy appointments. We laughed and talked and the time passed.

Another part of the story is another kind of message about caring. We survivors are a luck bunch. I think we have an obligation to advocate for anyone suffering or in need, particularly it it looks like their are doing so in silence. Not only are there other cancers, but there are a lot of serious illness and neediness that we should be aware of as well. Fund raising or awareness campagins should not be in competition for scarce dollars, diabetes or poverty are equally worthy causes.

So, let us stand up for humanity.

Roberta Bernstein
Concord, MA

Breast Cancer Survivor

In November of 2006, I was diagnosed with invasive breast cancer. Fortunately, I was blessed to have this discovered at an early stage as a result of my yearly mammogram. Even after knowing exactly where it was, I was unable to feel it during a self-exam due to its small size and location.

My treatments began with having a partial mascectomy also known as a lumpectomy. This was followed by 33 radiation treatments. I then began a five-year daily treatment with Femara, which is a medication classified as an aromatose inhibitor to minimize the estrogen that is naturally produced in my body as my cancer was estrogen positive. Although each treatment has had its own side effects, each one has been well worth going through to increase my odds of survival. Test results every three months show no signs of the cancer.

Yes, I am a survivor! I thank God each day for helping me through this fight. The fight is a hard one but it can be won. Please get your mammograms and do your self-exams! The earlier cancer can be detected the better your chances of winning the fight.

Nancy Capp
Visalia, CA

I am surviving the survival of breast cancer

1 year after a "clean" mamogram I learned I had 3 types of breast cancer. A double mastectomy, the cancer had spread. So, 7 months of chemo and 3 months radiation. The strength that I had seems surreal then and now. 6 surgeries since March 15, 2006 to today March 23, 2009. This disease has taken a toll on my financial pocket. All my medical bills paid in full... with the exception of the deductibles of my last surgery - November 17, 2008. I have asked for payment plans from everyone. I am the rock of support to my family and friends.

A mortgage officer, past 2 years business is thin. All financial resourses--exhausted. Always the one to lend money. So close to decent income ... But close will not cover my expenses next month.

It just doesn't seem fair, to survive with dignity the treatments of breast cancer... and halted... when you believe... it is all behind you. I do not yet have a "clean" bill of health. I feel though, It may be behind me. The radiation was too much .. and it continues to visit my body. I have several side effects from the chemo....

So... here I am wanting to pat myself on the back... and wondering if next month.. I will be able to keep the shirt on it!

Leslie Garber
Washington, DC

Breast cancer is a sisterhood

I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2005. I was taken totally by surprise because I had only 1 relative with breast cancer, I don't drink or smoke, and I breast-fed 3 babies. Luckily, I was referred to 3 outstanding doctors: my oncologist, surgeon, and plastic surgeon. I also had a wonderful support group who believe in the power of prayer. Not only did my Christian family and friends pray, but a Jewish friend prayed, and a mass was said in my name in Catherine, Italy. After having chemotherapy and a mastectomy, I am in remission. I take Evista every day and don't see my oncologist again until this summer.

Breast cancer is a sisterhood that you don't necessarily want to be a part of, but I'm happy to say that even though the membership is growing, our longivity is also growing thanks to good doctors, research, and the good Lord.

Beckie Taulbee
Las Cruces, NM

My winning battle

In December 1992, at the age of 55, my gynecologist discovered a lump in my right breast. I had had a mammography in August but it hadn't shown up. I went through the entire slash-poison-burn routine which certainly saved my life even if it was somewhat torturous. With the exception of 2 weeks after my lymph node disection, I continued to work through all my treatments.. I had extraordinary support from my son, my sister, my co workers and my friends and the most incredible doctors who were always available for my questions and for caring. I joined a SHARE support group where I met a woman who has become like a member of my family. Out of the darkest of days came something special.

Ethel Schwartz Bock
New York, NY

It's a Family Affair

When I was a little girl, we'd go to north Texas to visit our grandparents. Big Daddy and Big Mama shared their home with Grannie Dearmore, Big Mama's mother. I noticed that both Grannie and Big Mama had only one breast, so in my infinite 4-year-old wisdom I believed that at a certain age one of them fell off!

I shortly learned the truth, but wasn't prepared for the devastation that breast cancer would continue to bring my family. At age 36, my sister and only sibling had bilateral mastectomy--losing both breasts to cancer. My mother was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer, and died at age 74.

I have had genetic testing, which shows that I don't have a gene mutation.

However, breast cancer is definitely an ugly reality in our family. So, for the sake of my daughter and granddaughter, I work diligently with all available groups to develop prevention methods, increase early detection, and find better, quicker and less invasive treatments.

My biggest dream is to stomp out breast cancer in my lifetime!

Deann Owen Lewis
Crescent, OK

Be an Angel for someone

I was diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer in July of 1999. While I was going through treatment I was encouraged by words of hope and encouragement spoken to me by complete strangers who had walked the same path. Those "chance" meetings meant a lot to me and kept me focused on getting well. I always thought of these women as "angels" of hope.

Yesterday I met a woman at a motorcycle event for autism who had on a Breast Cancer pink ribbon dew-rag and also a Ford Motor Company Warriors in Pink (I think that's what it's called) scarf around her neck. So I asked her if she was a survivor.

She said, "No, but my mom and her sister are, well, her sister is, my mom passed away." Then she showed me a beautiful necklace that she had made with her mom's engagement diamond (marquis cut and large) set so that it was suspended from a pink ribbon charm.

She then went on to share that both ladies were 40 when they were diagnosed and that her aunt is a 17 yr. survivor. She said that she is scared and keeps checking herself daily practically and dreading when she turns 40 in a couple of years.

Later, when I was going over the encounter in my mind, I thought of all the things I could've said to her about advances in treatment etc. and was thinking that I hadn't "done" enough to make her feel better but then I realized that I had said the perfect thing for her to hear and that, in a way I was an angel for her.

What I said was, "That isn't neccessarily so, remember, you have your dad's genes as well."

Marathon, FL

The otherside of the coin

In May 1999 my wife & i were given thoese awful words. We then went through the hell of the treatment that we all know too well,the hair loss, which hert me very much as well as Carol. We got each other through it all as we had done the past 31 yrs of ups & downs, TOGETHER . On the 8th April 2000 @ 11.45am i lost the love of my life to breast cancer. I have now got used to life without Carol although we will never be apart and i talk with her every night. So come on all you men out there chin up your ladies need you! I will give the breast cancer site my full support for as long i am able too.

Yours in support

Brian Williams

Brian Williams
Havant, United Kingdom

Self Breast Exams Work!

I'm a TEN YEAR Breast Cancer Survivor because I found my tumor myself. I was having Mammograms every 6 mo. on the advice of my Dr. & had a clean one in JUNE, 1998. At the time of our only daughter's wedding in Sept. I discovered a lump in my right breast. After the great weekend of celebration I went to my Dr. She said she hadn't felt it in June & that the Mammogram hadn't shown one. So,I had another Mammogram THAT DAY & it was CLEAR/FINE/POSITIVE!! But the lump was there & felt quite big!! SO I had an Ultra Sound & IT WAS SEEN, of course! From there I was sent

to a Surgeon who biopsied it & a week later I was told I had stage II Breast Cancer. My husband & I were then VERY QUICKLY meeting with an Oncologist, Radiologist, & Surgeons to consider different treatment options. I was advised to have a Lumpectomy with the "NEW" Sentinel Node Biopsy that was then being used @ Moffit Cancer Center in Tampa, FL. That is what I chose to do. The results of the node biopsy came back that the nodes had been invaded, so I had to return for the removal of ALL nodes under my right arm. I firmly believe that my Oncologist saved my life with the 8 Hellish Chemo treatments I took losing "EVERY" hair on my body. Following that I had 32 Radiation treatments, which seemed like a "Cake Walk" after Chemo!!

I have great faith & believe in the power of prayer & a positive attitude!! I always believed from the moment of hearing my diagnosis that "I WOULD

LIVE" & was not going to die! Praise God!! By the way, My New Grown-in White Hair is now RED!

Judy Eggerling
Odessa, FL

My Story

I found the lump during a self-exam in June, 2007, right before my 40th birthday. After a mammogram, ultra sound and lumpectomy, it was confirmed in July that I had Stage I invasive ductal carcinoma. Luckily it did not spread to lymph nodes or other organs. I had a partial mastectomy with chemo, radiation and Herception treatments to follow. I have been very blessed with the support of my family. My 14 year old daughter made me homemade chicken soup to make sure I was eating during my chemo treatments and gave me friendly reminders about taking my meds prior to treatments. She was my nurse maid. My brother, who had hair longer than mine (down to his waist), shaved my head when my hair started falling out and then had me shave his!! He said we were in this together all the way! My mom and sister-in-law went to every treatment with me. My son and daughter-in-law were always giving me moral support and encouragement. I am now on Tamoxifen for the next 5 years and have been cancer free for almost 2 years!

My message for everyone: do regular self-exams and get mammograms. I wasn't supposed to start mammograms for almost another year. It would have been too late for me had I not done a self-exam.

Wellington, OH
Offshore Breeze Peekaboo Tunic
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