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Dear Mom

7 long, devastating,exhilarating,empty,fulfilled,blurry,memorable years w/o you.I'll just come right out & say it,those random times I go from laughing to an absolute monumental meltdown;those nights I toss & turn & still recall so vividly the way you smelled;those damn episodes of Grey's Anatomy;those days I just have absolutely no idea which road is best for me & would give anything to hear your wisdom.Those moments aren't a sign of weakness; I know that now. Instead,those moments are a clear & direct reflection of the utterly amazing woman you were & just hard difficult it's going to be to ever,ever stop missing you.Guess which life change I would be the most excited to tell you?It would be graduating with my MBA that you were 'there' for.I will never forget how dad reacted,since I never see him get sentimental outside of when you and Missy passed away.He handed me a card & was so tickled & in a hurry for me to open it when my response was ‘dad,it’s just a flipping card, I’m sure it’s only money..relax’ but what I didn’t know is what I would find when I opened that card. I opened it& immediately started balling knowing exactly what that card was only to silently hear Marco Polo say “Your mother bought that for your freshman year at Ohio State..she had such high hopes for you & knew what potential & what a bright future you had ahead of you that she went out & bought a graduation card after we dropped you off at your dorm. Since she didn’t get the chance to see you graduate for undergrad I thought it was only proper that you have a piece of her here with you to celebrate one of your biggest accomplishments..” You have touched many lives mom & continue to do so.I love u,will always miss u,& will stay strong for as long as I am living for u.You showed me what true strength was.What fighting a battle looked like & even more so, what winning a battle looked like you continue to be my inspiration.

Lindsey Escaja
Columbus, OH

fighting the fight

I went to the ER for a pain in my stomach, they did a CT scan that inadvertently got a spot on my left breast. When I went to have a mammogram I had missed my yearly so they did both sides and said the spot on my left side wasn't what they were worried about it was a spot on the right breast. More tests determined it was cancer so I had a lumpectomy. I liked my doctor but I wanted to go to an actual cancer hospital so I changed doctors and about 2 months later as I was healing they did an MRI just for precaution that showed the spot on the left side again that they later determined was indeed also cancer. I had another lumpectomy and a total of 68 radiation treatments. Thankfully it was caught very early. I know I didn't lose my hair with the treatments but I'm sure I have the same thoughts and fears about what was happening to my body and my life. It's all a very scary journey but I had a lot of support and lots of faith in God. I feel blessed that there re so many people that care. Be vigilant about your exams and keep the faith.

Terri Betts
St Louis, MO

Who Needs Boobs Anyway

I found the lump in my left breast. I was doing my monthly self breast exam, and there it was. But I'd had lumps before. In fact, I'd had one removed in that same breast a few years ago. I had enough sense to call right away to make a doctor appointment so that my new lumpy friend could get checked out. My wonderful doctor decided it was time for my annual mammogram. She wanted to do a sonogram as well since we could both feel that little suspicious pebble hanging out in my breast. The first sign that I should be concerned was when the sonogram technician spent triple the amount of time on my right breast than she did on my left breast. Even my untrained eyes could see the dark spot that appeared with every pass of the wand. But the real kicker was when the mammogram technician called in two other technicians to help her look at the lump of surprise that was hiding out in my right breast. Even when my doctor called and said I needed a biopsy, I still felt like the results would show that I was a bit lumpy but nothing was wrong. The date of the biopsy was July 2nd. On July 11th, my phone rang. It's never a good omen when the doctor's office manager calls and says, "The doctor wants to see you right away." It's especially ominous when it's 10 o'clock on a Friday morning. I don't remember much, but I remember my doctor's first words, "There's no easy way to say this. It's cancer." I remember hearing my doctor talking, but I couldn't understand anything she was saying. I remember the taste of tears in my mouth and someone handing me a box of Kleenex. The cancer was possibly in both breasts. That's weird, right? Three days later, my fiance left. He couldn't handle what I had to go through. I had a bilateral mastectomy on September 23rd. I still have a long way to go, but nothing scares me anymore. I've got this.

Lindsay, CA

My Greatest Blessing

In November 2011, I had my 2nd annual routine mammogram. A few days after my appointment I received a "call back" and went in for more pictures. I was told there was definitely something different from my mammo 15 months ago and they wanted to do a needle biopsy. On December 8, 2011 I received a call from my doctor saying I had breast cancer. I remember the moment clearly, the burning in my solar plexus, the blood draining from my extremities, the panick, the terror of the unknown.

The following months were some of the most difficult days I have ever faced. A bilateral mastectomy, chemotherapy, reconstruction, more unknown, feeling isolated, alone, betrayed by my body, not knowing if I could ever trust my body to do what it was supposed to do again.

I look back on those days and all the times that I believed I would never be able to live a normal life again, not think about cancer, treatment, or recurrence every day. However, you get stronger, you go back to your life and then develop a comfort level with the word cancer, your body and your mind. Although I didn't believe it at the time, there are days you forget you had cancer.

I tried to remain positive throughout my treatment and recovery. It helped to search out motivational quotes and books. When I started to feel bad, I'd google something to watch or searched quotes about hope, perseverance, and belief. I read books, I posted positive posts on my Facebook page, anything to bring a positive view to my life. I made a decision to looked for lessons and blessing in my life.

It was one of the worst times of my life, but it also was the biggest blessings in my life. I grew as a person and I was able to use the blessings and lessons in what I went through and develop a new appreciation for life, myself, my body, and my family. I learned what is really important in life.

Wendy Shaw
Kennebunk, ME

My Mother Sent Me a Message From the Other Side

First of all, I am blessed to say that I'm a 5 year breast cancer-free survivor!

However, when I first diagnosed I was devastated and scared. It wasn't until I received an email from a former high school classmate of mine that I was able to pull myself together. She told me she was home alone when she heard a women's voice say, "Gladys says, Darcy will be fine." Then she told me, "Honey, I don't know anyone named Gladys!" She said she kept hearing the exact same message over and over again all day long, and finally decided she'd better share this message with me. She ended her message by say, "I'd be curious to know if this means anything to you." You can imagine her surprised when I called her immediately after reading her email and said, "It makes total sense to me. My Mom that died of breast cancer was named Gladys!"

I will be eternally grateful to my classmate for sending me this message. It was exactly what I needed to hear in order for me to take charge of my health, stay positive, and fight through this entire ordeal Although my breast cancer was only Stage 1 and it was found in just one breast, I made the decision to have a bi-lateral mastectomy with reconstruction. As a result, I did not have to have radiation or Chemo! Plus, I now have 2 new perky boobs!!

My Mom was right....I am fine!! Thanks Mom!

Darcy Stuck
St. Joseph, MI

Yes to Faith, No to fear

At the age of 24 I completed a simple breast self exam during my 30th week of pregnancy, and found a lump. My thoughts were that it was just something as simple as a plugged milk duct or something pregnancy related, but I did not hesitate to inform my nurse practitioner at my prenatal visit the following day. I was scheduled for an ultrasound, and since the radiologist was unsure I was scheduled for a biopsy. I was terrified and just knew during the biopsy that things weren't going to turn out the way I expected. Sure enough I received a phone call on the way home from my first final exam in my jr year of nursing school saying that the biopsy showed stage II invasive ductal carcinoma triple negative breast cancer. My treatment began as soon as possible, and I completed two rounds of chemotherapy while I was still pregnant. I was always concerned about the well-being of my unborn son, but was completely filled with joy and unconditional love the moment I laid eyes on his completely healthy beautiful self once he was born! My treatment consisted of four rounds of Adriamycin and Cytoxan, four rounds of Taxotere and Carboplatin, lumpectomy, and radiation therapy. My journey had many tough days, but during those tough days it was God and my son who gave me the motivation to keep going. I decided that I needed to allow my faith to lead my journey and not allow fear to take over. Once I said yes to faith and no to fear I was able to tackle each tough situation in my journey like a champ. I spent Dec 2013-Oct 2014 coping with breast cancer and all that came with it, but I made it out victorious! As of June 11, 2014 I am cancer free, and now I am embracing my calling of helping women currently fighting breast cancer and raising awareness so that women and men are able to have early detection and higher rates of survival. Everyday as a survivor with my son is a blessing!

Katherine Spradley
Indianapolis, IN

Visions Of Hope

I was at work when my cell phone began to vibrate, the vibration made me jump and my hands started to shake as I ran from my desk to answer the call from my doctors office. I had been waiting on the results of my pathology report from my needle biopsy. I stood by my car in the parking lot clutching my phone, tears running down my face, as I listened to the voice on the other end say “ you have invasive ductal carcinoma," why me? How could I have CANCER? The six letter word nearly brought me to my knees. I was also triple positive, which is an aggressive form of breast cancer.

I had gone in for a mammogram after finding a lump that my doctor originally thought was a cyst. I’ve had a history of breast cyst so my doctor was not that alarmed.Once he performed the mammogram and needle biopsy,he told me that he believed the tumor was cancerous but needed further testing. I was devastated after the appointment, my world stood still and I felt like I was standing in the eye of a storm.

At 34, I was a single mother on the go. I had relocated only five months prior to my diagnosis. I was in search of change and a better quality of life for my son. I never thought that I would be facing a battle for my life. As I look back, after completing 6 rounds of chemotherapy, I remain hopeful because the fight is far from over. When I initially started chemo I saw no end in sight, that light at the end of the tunnel didn’t seem possible. It’s been a rough road but I’ve fought through the ugly side effects, needle pricks, and doctors’ visits. There were times that I felt defeated but remained optimistic and decided to trust God because he has the final word. I will continue to fight cancer, with everything in me because I have too much to live for and I no longer take life for granted.

M. Jones
Columbia, SC

my daughter my mirical baby

Baby surprise for cancer survivor

Breast cancer survivor Helen Gastev describes her daughter Neisha as her miracle.

At age 32, the Reservoir woman began chemotherapy for aggressive breast cancer, and despite having her eggs frozen she gave up on her dream of motherhood.

So the former nursing assistant was stunned when, less than a year after completing cancer treatment, doctors revealed she was six months pregnant. Ms Gastev had been experiencing chronic nausea, headaches and vomiting, leaving doctors fearing the worst.

"They thought cancer had spread to my bones," Ms Gastev said.

"I had to do MRIs and bone scans. I had test after test, they all came back OK, but the last test found cysts around my ovary. They did an internal and there was a baby. I said 'no it can't be' and the doctor said 'turn around and look at the monitor'.

"I named her Neisha which means 'God's miracle' in Hebrew."

Seven years on from her own scare, the disease has touched her life twice more.

The disease killed her father last year, while an aunt is now in remission. For the fourth year in a row in October the single mum will hold a Girls' Night In event to fundraise for the Cancer Council. The invite-only event will include auctions and entertainment.

"When I was a patient the way I was looked after was unbelievable so it's good to give something back."

helen Gastev
Victoria, Australia

Hard Rock denounce unfairly dismissed employees Cancer Patients

Attorney Susan Espaillat reported on Friday 10-10-2014 that the company Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Punta Cana, has fired an year ago the employees Petya Petrova, who was in active treatment of breast cancer, during their million dollar fundraising campaign for patients with this disease .

The lawsuit was won by my client for being fired unreasonably from the hotel as a cancer patient. "This is not the first time they do, I have more cases like Mrs. Petya.

In that sense, commentator Jose Piantini condemned the action of Hard Rock, "I do not understand how a company that makes millions as fundraisers, fires an employee in full breast cancer campaign with that disease!!! Where the money go if they dismiss a sick employee of breast cancer disease, questioned the commentator?.

In order to collect my client benefits I had to make an embargo on the company account, that took months trying to get them and she has no job, no income but lots of very expensive treatments.

With the sentence: 384-2014, the court sentenced the Hard Rock Hotel Casino Punta Cana because of canceling one of his employees in the treatment of cancer in October 4th, 2013, to pay 50 thousand Dominican pesos to Petya Petrova for unfair dismissal and damages.

"I would not say that there was bribery of judges to achieve this, but it is incredible that the $ 1 million we asked for unfair dismissal and damages , we grant that kind of money, when Mrs. Petrova paid about $140 000 USD in treatment after be fired, and hers salary was more then $3000 U.S. dollars per month, "said Susan in Z 101.

After making the complaint counsel thanked the station having granted the space to make the claim, because according to her, other media have refused to publish the information, because it is such a prestigious company.

Hard Rock is a worldwide campaign over 14 years ago to raise funds for preventing breast cancer and support called "Pinktober", where the money raised is supposedly donated to institutions responsible for combating deadliest disease in recent years.

Petya Petrova
Sofia, Bulgaria

Does Hard Rock’s Pinktober have a face?

Does Hard Rock’s Pinktober have a face?

Yes. Mine.

My name is Petya Petrova

In 2010, my husband Jordan and I received job offers from the Casino Manager at the Hard Rock Punta Cana Casino, in the Dominican Republic. I was a pit manager and Jordan was promoted to casino shift manager.

I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2012. My treatment involved a mastectomy, 28 radiation therapies and 6 chemotherapies. Every morning, I wore my Hard Rock Pinktober Guitar pin on my blouse and felt excited about healing and returning to work.

After several months back on the job, I was fired on October 4, 2013, a special month for women who have survived breast cancer. The Hard Rock Casino General Manager and his Human Resource Manager offered me an inaccurate severance, which shortchanged me according to the labor laws of the country.

After filing a lawsuit in the Dominican labor court against the casino company and Hard Rock, I traveled 36 hours, from Bulgaria, to attend the hearing so that everyone present could put a face to my name.

The judge ruled in my favor, validating my claim. My appeal has now been filed for damages. I have medical affidavits to prove this process has taken a toll on my health. Apparently, the company's support of Pink October does not include standing by one of its own employees in her efforts to beat breast cancer and return to a productive life.

Corporations have a moral responsibility towards their employees. Behind the iconic Hard Rock guitar, there's a whole bunch of people....employees like me.

I hope women everywhere will hear my story and remind companies like Hard Rock that we are real people, not marketing tools in a hollow "pinktober" ad campaign.

Petya Petrova
Sofia, Bulgaria
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