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Men Get Breast Cancer Too ! I did.

In 2012, I was 49 years old and I was diagnosed, after a mammogram, ultrasound and biopsy, with stage 3a invasive ductal carcinoma in my left breast. Yes...men have breasts too. Over our pectoral muscle we have a certain amount of breast tissue.

I was treated with a mastectomy with lymph node dissection, 18 weeks of aggressive chemotherapy (6 rounds, a round every 3 weeks of A,C and T) , after a little time off, 25 daily rounds of generous radiation. I'm currently showing no evidence of disease and I am on a 10 year course of Tamoxifen. Between the chemotherapy and the tamoxifen, they leave me a some cognitive issues. Remembering names, instructions, and such are sometimes difficult.

Breast cancer gave me so much more than it's taken away though. I've been fortunate to meet wonderful people; doctors, nurses, aides. And made wonderful friends who I never would have met otherwise.

Today I am an advocate for male breast cancer. I speak to folks about my journey whenever I have a chance. I do the media tour in October with the local newspapers, television, radio and internet radio blogs type shows.

Men: talk to your family about your family history of breast cancer and other diseases. Then talk to your doctor about that family history and ask what your risk factors are. Work with your doctor to minimize those risk factors. Learn and do monthly breast self exams. What you don't know can kill you.

This year, according to the American Cancer Society, over 2,300 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer. Of that number, 430 is expected to die from it due to the late stage in which it's found. If you feel something, say something.

Bob DeVito
Waterbury, CT

Blessed and Highly Favoured- I'm a survivor

I was diagnosed with Lymphoma in 2007. By the time I was diagnosed, the cancer had already started spreading, and fast. I had 3 tumors in my chest, a mass the size of a soccer ball underneath my left lung, and the cancer cells had made their way into my small intestines. I was at stage 4. I went through 9 1/2 months of intense chemo, 8 hours each time. I think the chemo was the worse. Within the first two weeks after my first treatment, my hair began to come out by the handfuls. Here I am today, alive, breathing and still able to share my story with women like you all. We're blessed and we're all a testimony to other women who are fighting these same kinds of battles. I commend you all because as for me, it was one of the hardest battles I've ever had to endure, but at the same time, it made me stronger, wiser and more appreciative of those smaller things in life I once overlooked or took for granted. Sending a big hug to all you!!!!!!

Cassandra Sims
Farmville, NC

Every Day is A NEW Day

I have been working at an Oncology clinic since May 2013,In Nov 2013 I felt a lump on my left breast, I thought I was just being paranoid so I went on without giving it a second thought. In Jan 2014 I started having some sharp pains under my left arm. At this time I decided to talk to one of the nurses at my clinic to see what she thought. Without hesitation she had me scheduled for my first mammogram and sonogram, also an appointment to see a breast surgeon. On Jan 9th of 2014 my morning started out like any other morning I went to my appointments then had to wait until the afternoon to see the doctor. As she was giving me a routine breast exam she put her arm on my arm and told me that I had CANCER. Immediately tears started rolling down my face, all I could think about was my family and my three little boys at home. A 32 year old single mom, what was I going to do?? How was I going to tell my family?? After this It was a whirlwind of doctors visits, scans and planning out the next steps. I started chemo while still working full time. Everyday I just told myself no matter what happened, how bad I felt the day before TODAY IS A NEW DAY. I held my head up and knew that no matter what I have the most wonderful kids, best friends and coworkers (support community) anyone could ask for. I am happy to say that I have completed 16 rounds of chemo, a double mastectomy, radiation and now awaiting reconstruction. EVERY DAY IS A NEW DAY!! :)

Jodi
Garland, TX

Round 2... This time I will win this fight for good!

No one thinks they will get cancer once, let alone twice, especially with no family history! I was surprised when I found a lump the size of a baby carrot on my right breast in February 2012. After numerous biopsies, I discovered that I had stage 2 aggressive triple negative breast cancer. I was 48 years old, recently divorced and had my 8 year old daughter, my 25 year old son, my family and friends to live for. I knew I needed to keep a positive attitude and that I could fight and win!

I underwent 20 weekly rounds of chemo. My tumor was completely dissolved prior to my double mastectomy in August of 2012. I held a positive attitude. Laughter, love, physical activity and the support of family and friends kept me fighting. Just because you are diagnosed with cancer does not mean you need to throw in the towel and give up. I did not get physically sick and I believe it was due to my positive attitude. I am very grateful that I was able to water ski, downhill ski, work my full time job and continue to do everything that I loved throughout my treatment. I was on my road to recovery with a new outlook on life.

In February 2014, my cancer had returned, stage 2. It was back to surgery followed by 12 weekly rounds of chemo. I am now headed for 6 weeks of daily radiation, reconstruction, fat graphing surgeries and a hysterectomy for preventative measures. My energy has been less and I have not been able to tolerate my physical activities like I had with the first round. I am doing my best to keep my positive attitude and energy. The recent announcement that i will be a first time grandmother in March helps me to fight even more!

Never give up and never give in. Do your routine checks and know that if you or someone you know is diagnosed, this can be fought and won! Keep a positive attitude! Live your life, laugh a lot & love others!

Patti Carty-Heffner
St. Francis, MN

My survival

I was Diagnosed with breast cancer grade 3 in 2002, i had surgery, chemo and radiotherapy, i had to take a year out from work,(im a nurse in our hospital).

I' am Married with 2 children, a boy aged 15 then and a girl 17 then, I think it was hard for my family to understand what was happening,they tryed their best.

I was in and out of hospital due to treatment but i did'nt let it stop me from organising my daughter's 18th birthday party,i wanted things to go on as normal as i could for my family, that was in the june,in the july it was my birthday,which was very nice,with my family, the same week my mam took ill and was admitted to hospital,they asked for all her family to attend,it was'nt good! she passed away while we were there.

I took this very hard and went on a downward feeling for life,i cancelled my last 2 chemo sessions,which was hard but all i could think of is getting back to work.

I had radiotherapy earlyer than expected,then went back to work,I did and still do suffer with a damaged immune system,to which i am getting good care.

I desided i want to give back for all the help i got, so, i do the Race for Life every year and i also make cards and crafts to sell for Macmillan and heart foundation,I have had my work and story in magazines and hope it's a inspiration to others. I do keep intouch to this day with other survivors.

I can not say it has'nt changed me,because it has,i have become a harder person, my friends say i'm like an armidillo.........hard on the outside but soft on the inside,I do find sometimes i cry at the slightest thing,on the other hand I can be a tower of strength when needed,it's been 12years now, my family are my life.All i can say is this is a life worth fighting for, and i will keep up the fight for ALL survivors.

Elaine Sutton
Peterborough,Cambs, United Kingdom

Missy

Let me start by saying please please please get that mammogram. I went for mine Jan 2013 after missing 3 years. Three days after my mammogram I received a letter and a phone call asking me to set up an ultra sound. It only took ten minutes (lifetime) for the radiologist to recommend a surgeon. I have never had to deal with surgeons, oncologists, or any cancer related procedures. Well that changed real quickly. After meeting with my surgeon I was scheduled for a biopsy. And from there, you guessed it. My diagnosis on Jan 10,2013 was triple negative breast cancer. Surgery was done on Jan 17,2013 my youngest daughters 21st birthday. I had stage 2b triple neg bc with 1 lymph node involved. (16 removed after sentinel node biopsy) and my tumor was 3.5 centimeters. My treatment consisted of 8 rounds of chemo and 33 rounds if radiation. I also changed my oncologist after 1 round if chemo , to an oncologist who specializes in breast cancer. Well I have been out of treatment since August 22,2014 and I am still dealing with side effects. I have lemphodema and neropathy. I also have dischage so now I am facing an mri. BUT I have an amazing wife (yes wife) an amazing family and faithful God. I have support from my work and friends as well. The positive in all this is that with triple negative, once treatment is over there are no more meds. Menopause has hit hard, but thank God I have three amazing kids.... I pray every day for a cure so no one else has this path. Please take the time and get that mammogram.....

Missy Perreault
Middleton, NH

No Cancer Glasses for Me

I was diagnosed with breast cancer 26 years ago. I immediately began a year of treatment, including a mastectomy, then chemo and radiation. I was married with two boys who were two and six years old, and I was a full time elementary school teacher. I truly believed that I would beat cancer, not let it take over my life. In my mind, I thought of cancer as shaded glasses, and I refused to wear them. I would not look at my life through those cancer glasses. I focused instead on me, my recovery, on my family, my career and my future. I had cancer, cancer did not have me.

Now my boys are independent young men, I have retired after 36 years in a successful career, and am still married to the same wonderful man. But last August, after 25 years of good health, I received the same diagnosis, same treatment, even the same doctors. I still refused to wear those cancer glasses. This time I lost all my hair, and had to adjust to a new me, but I still focused on my recovery, my family and friends, and volunteering in first grade classrooms when I could.

I know that I will recover once again. My hair is growing back, and I have been getting so many compliments on my short, curly style, I think I will keep it this way.

I truly believe that keeping a positive outlook is equally, if not more important than all of the treatments I have received. Focusing on the big picture--life--and not seeing everything through cancer, that is what makes the difference here.

Gail Staples
Moline, IL

My hero

My story stars 5 years ago, my mom sat me down one day after a very long 12 hour shift. Normally it didn't bother me we did this a lot, but something was different I could see it in her face. My mom asked how my day was but I didn't care about that I NEEDED to no what was wrong. She told me that my grandmother had stage 4 breast cancer, my great sank and I started to cry. Here's the thing my grandma (tutu) is a fighter she's always got her make up and hair done u never seen her down and this was no difference over the course of a year she started and stopped her cemo she said after about the 7th treatment it was a waste of time and energy. She lost her hair she had a mastectomy but she always had a smile in her face but I didn't I was scared. I talked to her everyday and we alighted and joked but in December 2011 she was different it was like she wasn't even mentally with us she would look at you with no response I couldn't take it I broke down. One day my mom asked if I wanted to go up to the hospital to see my grandma again I just got off of work and wanted to sleep. I new I should have went because at 10:20am my grandma took her last breath and passed away without me there. I never got to say goodbye I never got to tell her for the last time that I love her. Or tell her that she was the one that taught me to bake or how much I just appreciate her. I miss her so much and think about her a lot I no she is proud of me but I wish I could just see her one last time so I can tell her everything and most of all that I'm sorry I wasn't there when she passed.

I love u tutu and miss u so much

Debra
Edson, AB, Canada

Pregnant with Breast Cancer...

June 2008, 28 years old and 2 months into my pregnancy my husband Jarom and I were watching a TV program about breast cancer. We were interested in the program at the time because my older sister Tasha (34 years old) was undergoing treatments for breast cancer. As I showed my husband how a self examination was performed, he noticed a hard lump in my right breast. I ignored the lump for about a month until I asked my OB to examine my breast. She too was surprised and thought it may have been beguine due to the pregnancy and had me run further tests to rule out a tumor.

After meeting with a surgeon and having done a biopsy I received a call on August 1, 2008 that the doctor needed to see me right away.

She sat me in the same room where I received the biopsy and said "Luseane, we biopsied your sample and unfortunately it is cancer". My first reaction was Wow; okay what do I need to do to take care of it? After hearing my options and felt what was best for my baby and myself, I immediately made decisions without discussing it with my husband or family and had scheduled to have a lumpectomy early Monday morning on August 4, 2008.

Before I could begin with chemo I had to run a series of test to monitor my baby which I also had to see a specialist to check my heart, blood test, etc. The plan was for me to be admitted to receive A/C infusion type chemotherapy for 72 hrs. once every 3 weeks 4 times.

After treatments were done on Nov 15, I continued to see my OB and neonatal specialist to monitor my baby's growth and or any side effects from receiving chemo. All went well after treatment that at a regular prenatal checkup at 37 weeks on December 29, I was told I was contracting, 4cm and later gave birth to a healthy baby girl that evening. She will be turning 6 and I'm still cancer free! #blessed

Titi Vimahi Ha'o
Kahuku #RR4L, HI

Shannon's Strength Put to the Test....

After a personally challenging year, I made a commitment to myself that 2014 would be a time to focus on me. As a healthy, married 45-year old mother of three girls, I started working out 5 days/week and lost 18 pounds. Life was good!

A routine mammogram on 8/4 was determined abnormal. This was concerning to me as I had been feeling breast changes over the past few months. A follow-up diagnostic mammogram and ultrasound on 8/18 revealed 3 masses in my right breast that the radiologist told me she was 95% confident were malignant. I was scared and felt alone and helpless. A biopsy on 8/26 confirmed my worst fear – invasive, ductal carcinoma. Final pathology revealed the tumor type to be HER-2 negative, ER/PR positive – my breast surgeon assured me my cancer was treatable and that I would be fine. I wanted to believe him but it all did not seem real to me.

On 9/24, I elected to have a double mastectomy with tissue expanders. The choice was difficult but made easier when considering my family and desire to live a long life. Surgery was successful and my lymph nodes were negative. My recovery was manageable with the help of my husband, family and friends.

On 10/3, my tumor was sent out for an Oncotype genomic test to determine probability of recurrence and potential need for chemotherapy. For two weeks, my mind swirled with emotions – how would I respond to chemo, what effect would it have on my body, would I lose my hair, what would my children think? I kept the focus on my recovery and focused on the love, support and prayers for me. On 10/20, my oncologist informed me that my Oncotype score was low and that chemotherapy was not necessary. I was extremely relieved and now take tamoxifen and will be closely monitored for the next few years.

By relying on my inner strength and prayer, a great team of physicians, and an unbelievable support network I am now cancer free and can look forward to a long, happy life!

Shannon Hayes
Dublin, PA
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