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My Little Hero

I had just turned 42 and cancer was the last thing on my mind as I was busy looking after my son that just happened to be blessed with Down Syndrome. He was always very active and at times be a bit rough. This particular day we were rough housing when by accident my little boy kneed me in the breast. It hurt at first but did not think anything sinister was going on. I left it a week but on examining my breast I felt a mass not a lump as such, in the back of my mind I thought something was not right. I went and saw my local GP and he got me an appointment to have an ultrasound and if needed a biopsy the following morning. A few days later I was back in the doctors surgery and was told the 3 most dreaded words " You have cancer". Within a month I had visits to my oncologist and surgeon to discuss my options and I decided that I would go having my right breast removed with no reconstruction and we also discussed having the left breast removed at some point as well. The surgery day came and went and the results came back that I had grade II infiltrating (multifocal) ductal carcinoma, with an axillary clearance as 28/32 nodes tested positive for cancer. I had 6 rounds of chemo,5 weeks of radiotherapy and 12 months of Herceptin. Last Jan had my left breast removed without reconstruction. Whilst going through all of this my marriage broke down but the one thing that kept me going was the strength of my little boy.

I have been told that I will not be cured of this insidious disease so have to live with it and if any issues come up we will deal with it! I am now on hormone blockers. I am going to fight this the only way I can with boxing gloves on as I have a little boy that needs me to be around as long as I can as he is only 7

Deb Lagden
Adelaide, Australia

hope to help someone

I write this is the hope that someone sees it and thinks-well is she got through it than so can I. It all began 7 years ago when my teenage daughter passed away suddenly. We buried my father in law and my daughters father within the next 6 months. I also had back and neck surgery over the next 2 yrs. Then I found the lump..not a what can this be lump but a LUMP . I knew what it was at that moment. And I was right. I underwent surgery a month later. Took out the lump and a few lymph nodes and did cosmetic surgery on the other breast. That was the easy part. The first round of chemo caused me to have a severe allergic reaction to one of the drugs. My doc was great-must of called him several times that first night. The next 6 months was a routine of work and chemo. I didnt have a ton of help at home so I just took it day by day. I drove myself to treatments and spent hours in my room by myself. I made sure my son was set for the five days every three weeks i was down for the count. I finished up with radiation.

So how did i do it? One moment at a time, one step at a time. I thought of all those other women that I had gone through this and thought if they can do it so can I . I just kept it simple. Dont think too far ahead. And here I sit , it will be 4 yrs next month. And if i could still stand after this mess I call my life than others can too!

Leslie Hutton
Mohegan Lake, NY

Blest

I was diagnosed with 3rd Staged Breast Cancer in Sept. 2010. First I want to say how blessed I am, I had a mastectomy on my left breast in hindsight I should have had both taken off. I went through Chemo and Radiation there was some days I couldn't put one foot in front of the other. I kept telling my husband I wouldn't wish this on an old dog. I had such a good support system and as bad as I got I never ask why did God give this to me? I felt like it was a test to see how strong my faith was. I did not waver in my faith I just THANKED THE GOOD LORD for letting me live through it. I also see it as a learning lesson that what I went through might help someone else through such a trying time. You have to have a good attitude and Positive thinking. I made jokes like well I won't have to shave my legs for a while, or my fingernails haven't been so long. I had the smoothest skin. All jokes aside it is bad but it is something that you toooo can get through. Hope I could help, also Chemo Angels are so wonderful I can't say enough about them you really feel the LOVE!!!!!!!

Teresa
Bradenton, FL

A story about just one cancer victim.

Some years ago, my partner, the love of my life, was told she had primary biliary cancer. OK it was not breast cancer, but it is just as aggressive and the effect on the individual and their families is the same.

From day one Cherie vowed to fight this terrible thing, we saw many Doctors, there were tests, and eventually Chemotherapy. Once a week we attended the clinic and she went home on home therapy on a little pump - she named it Ralph, because the first few days of therapy made her so sick!

Throughout the 4 long months of chemo she kept up her spirit, she fought back and was often stronger than me. When the chemo was finished she was declared cancer free, on blood tests, but we knew it would come back.

We lived like there was no tomorrow, we traveled, we danced, we enjoyed love that no-one could take away from us. And we talked.

We talked about the day we would know it had returned, we talked about the ongoing fight, and we talked about the end.

18 months after the first diagnosis there were new signs, she in pain and losing weight. It was back. This time in her ovaries.

She had surgery to alleviate the symptoms and experimental chemo, but five months later I lost her. She wanted to be home when it came, and so, with a morphine pump, and my help as a Registered Nurse, my darling wife died in my arms at home.

Her message is one of courage. Her motto, "Never give up"! Even when the end was inevitable, she planned for what would come next. She even planned her own funeral.

Her courage against insurmountable odds gave me courage to carry on. She said once when we were alone, "I know that I will probably lose this fight; but people are learning from this, and that makes a difference. One day people like me will survive".

One way or another we can all make a difference. I will, for my darling Cherie. Rest in peace my love.

Gary James Lopez
Mt Louisa, Australia

I'm a survivor

To make a long story short,my name is Lisa and in 1997 at the age of 34 I was diagnosed with breast cancer.In "98"I had an radical surgery to remove my left breast and nodes.I did the chemo,radiation,and took tamoxifen for 5 years.I was told that my attitude would be my best medicine.Well it was!..I had that outlook that I had cancer but it Didnt have me! I had things to do,places to go,things to see! I had a ten year old son that was my life,still is.I needed to survive for him as well as for me.So my thing,smile everyday even if it hurts,thank God in heaven for another day,take time for the small things in life. Feel the suns rays on your face,watch the fish swim,listen to the birds sing.....and live,love & laugh,don't ask why ,take it a day at a time,be strong,be you and don't forget to breath....I'm 52 now and my son is still my life sake,he made me want to live,and helped me along the way.he was part of my medicine,the attitude was the other part,and when you get so down about yourself,think of someone else that has it worse...it works,well for me anyway. So attitude has a lot do with everything you do. I would joke about everything,people would be like,but what you have is not funny, I said I know,but crying about it isn't going to make me better,thinking positive can! So...I did just that, Joking around about things made me laugh at times(and others). I had to think this way,to me there was no other way. So please,keep up that smile,look in the mirror everyday and say...I haver cancer but it don't have me!....and kick cancers butt!...so Live,Love,&Laugh....

Lisa Boyle
Southampton, NJ

I'm not fighting Cancer, Cancer is fighting me..

On November 01, 2001 I was diagnosed with breast cancer. This condition may not raise eyebrows unless it happened to you and you happened to be a woman. In my case, breast cancer raised more than a few eyebrows since I am a man. Believe, me I was shocked and surprised. Nevertheless, I went through a mental experience that few men ever stop and think about, even in their wildest dreams. I’m sure people noticed that I had larger breasts then most men, but I didn’t know that it would turn out to be cancer.

When I did discover the lump, it was April 2001. Ignoring it , until the late August 2001, when I started noticing little spots of blood on my white tees. Now I am thinking, what in the hell is going on now? The spots started getting larger and larger and when woke up I would see more and more blood. The months of September and October were spent going back and forth to the doctors and taking what seemed like an endless battery of tests. I actually had to get a mammogram. They found some calcifications from the mammogram and the doctors just wanted to make sure that was all it was. So I had a biopsy done on that 10/30/01. On 11/01/01the dr. called and told us that it was malignant. I had breast cancer.

I needed to tell my family and close friends. I had a double mastectomy on 12/13/01. From June 2002 through July 2002 I endured ten and a half weeks of radiation.

The cancer has come back only once, but I’m in remission now. I continue to fight every day for all persons with breast cancer, especially men.

Sadly on October 19 2013 my biggest supporter, my mama Lora Kirkland passed, but I continue to fight on with her spirit beside me.

Ambrose Kirkland
Tallahassee, FL

Life Changes Change Lives

In 2010 I was changing my life in a huge way, uprooting my three children and leaving an abusive marriage of 16 years. I was giddy with relief and freedom and found myself buying dresses (completely out of character) and laughing freely. Shortly after I left my home I found myself hugged by a dear friend and felt a spark I would have never had guessed would happen! I took a leap and started dating! Whoa! Divorce finalized quickly and I was scheduled to take care of a lump that I had been concerned about for three years! It never showed up on any imaging, mammo or ultrasound, but finally in September 2010 there is was on ultrasound. Reports said it was benign, the gyn said benign, the surgeon said it's benign- but that she would remove it simply because you could see it just under the nipple. Day after Christmas I went in for my excisional biopsy. I remember being so upset that my nipple pulled to the left! Haha. Results came in on Jan 4th, 2011. Cancer. I had been "dating" for 6 months. I was terrified. I am a single parent, newly divorced, living in my mother house and my savings were now all going to medical bills. I had my second surgery for clean margins within the month and my boyfriend did not let me leave, he took in me and my kids. Unwrapping after that surgery was devastating. I always considered myself independent, hated crying, despised asking for help. In that moment I needed the unconditional love I had never experienced. John gave that and more! Counseling, radiation therapy, nerve damage and an online journal along with family and amazing friends & painting got me through. My last day on radiation fell on Relay For Life, I was a guest speaker. I survived. I love my life more everyday, I have helped others cope with this horrible disease thank to my experience. I fear everyday that it will return; but I will beat it again!

Crystal O'Neil
Trinity, FL

But I Have a Dissertation to Write

Even under the best of circumstances 2013 was going to be a challenging year. I was working full time and working on my dissertation, but I never dreamed that I would be educator, student, and patient. During my annual wellness exam in February, I asked my doctor to take a look at my breast, I felt a lump and my nipple had inverted. She immediately had me set up an appointment for a mammogram. The little voice in my head started whimpering when they wanted to do an ultrasound, but it didn't start screaming until the radiologist wanted to see me. He was very forward as he pointed out a mass in my left breast and said the word malignant. I had a lump that needed to be biopsied as soon as possible.

That seems so long ago now, and yet it has also been a whirlwind. Life now is broken into BBC and ABC. No, not British Broadcasting and American Broadcasting, but Before Breast Cancer and After Breast Cancer. Or maybe it should be BF and AF, Before Foobs and After Foobs. Survival is more than just putting one foot in front of the other, it's laughing when you trip over your own feet. Laughter and friendship make even the worst days possible to deal with. It is said you never know how strong you are until you are tested, and 2013 had been more of a test than I ever wanted. I somehow managed to write my dissertation and even a couple of papers for publication while going through chemo. I completed my doctorate after my bilateral mastectomy and graduated in April 2014. Being able to fly to Gainesville to walk that stage surround by friends, family, and mentors, that was the first step on my next journey.

Johanna Kenney
Austin, TX

Be a fighter, Be an Inspiration!

My fight started all in the fall of 2013, my sister past away last year from breast cancer, and I had made a promise to her to start taking better care of my health. I started to go back to the doctors. But one evening I was sitting on the couch i had reached up to itch an area on my left breast I found a lump. I was only 47, I never had my first mammogram. So I schedule my very first one as it was hard on me to do since the passing of my sister Denise. She was quite the fighter.

Later on in the season towards winter I had become really sick with pneumonia, bronchitis and c,o,p,d, I knew there was something wrong with my body. I ended up on an ambulance going to Clinton, Missouri there they put me on the ventilators my carbon dioxide level was 94 and not enough oxygen. They life flighted me to the city where I eventually made it off the ventilators and they schedule a biopsy on the lump that I had found. Needless to say they found two lumps on the same breast. The results came back it was Stage 4 breast cancer. It had already spread to my spine and pelvic area.

As I got my strength up and was released, I started my Journey with my first round of chemotherapy it was the strongest of the 3 medications they could give a person. I lost my hair, i had sores on my feet and hands. I couldn't hardly eat, I lost 40 Lbs. But it put a hold on the cancer that was there. It was doing its job for that time. Then they scheduled me for my double mastectomy. I did wonderfully recovering from that in the summer time. Although missed out on swimming and all the fun stuff a mom could do with her son. He was a trooper right along with me. I am here a year later, my markers are down by 7, I choose to keep fighting!

Melissa Duncan
WARSAW, MO

My inspiration

My name is Cynthia Kaley, my inspiration is Angelina Jolie. When she told the world that she had a double mastectomy, I prayed for her. When she said she stated that it didn't make her any less of a woman. I cheered for her. A few months later I found a big lump on my breast. That is what some people do not understand, that morning it wasn't there, by night time it was. I had the genetic test done 2 times. Thank God it came out negative. But because of Angelina, I had already made the decision to have a double mastectomy if it had come out positive. She reminded me that not having them wouldn't make me any less of a woman, unless I allow someone to treat me that way. I tell everyone my story. I hope to be an inspiration to others, the way she inspired me. Thank you Angelina, one day I hope to be able to thank you in person.

Cynthia Kaley
Pittsfiled, MA
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