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Learn to Dance in the Rain

On December 18th 2013, I went for my annual gynocologist appointment. During my breast exam, my doctor felt a mass on my right breast. She asked me "have you felt this before"? She guided my hand to the large mass. I was shocked to feel the mass, since I had never felt it before. She ordered a mamogram right away. After my mamogram, I required an ultrasound. The ultrasound results required a Biopsy. I had to try my best to stay positive as Christmas was only 2 days away. My Biopsy was scheduled for December 26th. I was scared as the Dr. performing the biopsy said she did not like the size, shape and change in by mamogram just 10 months prior. She said I would get a call the very next day. My boyfriend took the day off to be with me when the phone call came in. My gynocologist called and said "I'm sorry to tell you that You Have Breast Cancer". I felt numb.. the look on my face revealed the results to my boyfriend sitting right next to me. After hanging up..we both just sat there not knowing what to do or say.. we just hugged and wept. I asked myself.. "how can this be...I am a Flamenco Dancer and Zumba instructor.. Cancer does not run in my family".

I was diagnosed with Invasive Ductal Carcenoma, Triple Negative, Stage 3. After the initial shock and fear, I knew I had to fight..... I knew I had to beat this... I knew my hair would fall out. I asked my boyfriend to shave my head. I wanted to feel empowered to lose my hair and not let cancer be the reason for losing it. I finished 8 rounds of chemotherapy, lumpectomy and lymph node disection and preparing for Radiation in 2 more weeks. I am cancer free! To my son,boyfriend, family and friends..thank you for your prayers and support. Thank you God!

Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass, it's about learning to Dance in the Rain!

Becky Stokes
Whittier, CA

I am a survivor

It was June 2008 and my father in law died on the 24th June of terminal cancer we had cared for him the six months of his life I had a puckering in my left breast at this point and it started to get very painful , I didn't say anything to anyone especially my husband as he was grieving so much at this point we booked a holiday to Portugal with our best friends Stuart and Jayne and the children as a starting point of living without dad , I couldn't tell anyone as I didn't want to spoil the holiday so we went and I managed to get away without telling but on our return I promised myself I would come clean so in the September I shown my husband and he made me promise to go to the doctors the next day and there the cycle begins diagnosed within two weeks had a mastectomy in October and chemo started in the November and not only that we have a got a autistic son who didn't understand why mummy and daddy so upset and he didn't understand what was going on, trying to keep things normal at home for our son was my main priority , but then disaster struck again on my second chemo I had a stroke , my husband thought I was going to die I was determined not to, all I could think is I got to get out of this hospital as it was Christmas and I needed my son to have a one with his mummy and daddy... I did recover and kept positive throughout the rest of my chemo then they discovered I had a hole in heart which had caused the stroke got that fixed thought that was it, then all the problems happened with my womb three operations later and a partial hysterectomy in June 2013, finally on the way back to normality my husband being fantastic throughout in looking after myself and our son ... July 11th 2014 I am finally being signed off ...... I survived

Michelle Bett
Wombourne, United Kingdom

Three times survivor and not out!

My story is to give hope to women who are diagnosed with breast cancer.

1996, diagnosed aged 46. working in my own business, kids at home, a wonderful supportive and loving husband never failing to be by my side through my journey.

My GP found a lump in right breast and I reeled from the pathology report, "cancer". A lumpectomy, radiation and chemo followed for 6 months. During this time between treatments I continued to work, a great leveller for me and a distraction from the ordeal. I recovered and returned to enjoying life.

1998, Ductal Carcinoma Insitu found in left breast, removed and 33 treatments of radiation followed. I started a 5 year course on Tamoxifen with no noticeable side affects. Life again was sweeter for my experiences, appreciating each day loving and enjoying my family even more. I became a Nana, grateful for the love and joys it brought to my life.

2008, I received another blow, cancer in my right breast again, this time the "Girls" had to go so I decided on a bi-lateral mastectomy with reconstruction at the same time. I was aware because of previous radiation treatments this lessoned my chances of a successful reconstruction but I had to have a go! One month later, disappointed, ill with an infection, I was back in hospital to have expanders removed. My attitude was "I just want to be well and get on with my life and being happy wasn't about a cleavage and 2 bumps on the front of my chest. I bounced back again was fitted for 2 external breast forms which are safe and I get the relief of taking them off at the end of the day! I then began another 5 years on Tamoxifen.

2014, Here I am 64 years of age, 18 years since the start of my journey, never giving up! Well and happily enjoying everyday and adventure possible, refusing to let cancer steal my joy of living. I thank all the amazing doctors and medical treatments that I have received and am great advocate for early detection.

Janis Creer
Tamworth, Australia

This is my story

December 12th I went for my annual. My gyno was doing my breast exam she didn’t like this small dimple I had on my left breast. December 23rd my first mammogram. Unfortunately found a highly suspicious mass. January 2nd got a biopsy. I couldn’t believe all this was happening! I have no history in my family. I grew up thinking all we had to look for is a lump. I had no idea there are so many other oddities to look for! Finally January 10th he called me and told me the words I did NOT want to hear…”the biopsy was positive for cancer”. I chose mastectomy with immediate reconstruction. February 6th had the mastectomy and expander put in. A week later I received news from the surgeon about my lymph nodes results. 3 of 6 were positive for cancer. Oncology February 21st diagnosed me with Stage IIA Invasive ductal carcinoma ER positive. I chose the options that would fit my full time job, single mom, very tight budget life the best. I chose chemotherapy (Taxotere and Cytoxan=TC) every 3 weeks for 6 treatments then Tamoxifen for 5 plus years. Had to halt the reconstruction process to start chemo. March 19th was my first treatment. I went into this with an attitude that I want to live and I am going to do this as positively as I can! I made posters with every treatment I had and posted them to my social page for my family and friends to see how it was going. I did not however post all the pain and side effects. I felt that was unnecessary because they were just temporary problems that went away after the first week of treatment. I MADE IT! I’m officially a CHEMO/ CANCER survivor! I don’t think I would’ve made it through so well without my faith in God, Love and support from my Mom, family and friends, company family and great organizations, and my stubbornness to keep a GOOD attitude throughout this journey!

Love to all! God bless and may you be good to yourself and to others!

Melanie
Kansas City, MO

I Made It!!

I will never forget the day I was given those awful words no one wants to hear. " You have stage iv breast cancer, It is not curable, but can be treated".

I felt like the earth was swallowing me, but then I felt my husbands hand on my shoulder as he gently rocked me and told me everything will be okay. Then I looked over to my 2 brothers that came with us to the appointment. The look of shock on their faces were unforgetable.

I just had a normal mammogram 4 months prior and was always very diligent on keeping up with all health matters. I had actually gone into to see my PCP for hip pain that would not go away. After several cortisone injections, physical therapy, blood work, scans, they finally decided to do an MRI. This is where it gets interesting......Final diagnosis was stage iv metastatic breast cancer. Tumors on my chest wall ( this is why the mammo did not detect the tumor), tumors on my skull, ribs, spine, and pelvis. And then there was my liver..... so many tumors the Dr;s couldnt even count!!

I was told that I had between 2 -5 years to live. Well, that did not fly with me!!!! I started Chemo that day and continued for 6 months. 2 rounds of radiation, a lumpectomy, took 3 lymph nodes, and a full hysterectomy. I am proud to say that as of today, I am a 2 year, 4 month survivor!! I am in full remission!

I could not have done this with out all the love and support from my wonderful supportive family and my terrific friends that did so much for me and my entire family. My husband always knew what to say to get me moving and stop feeling sorry for myself. He pushed me to keep fighting. My son was my inspiration to fight my very hardest. I truely believe that love, support, and the power of positive thinking can get you thru anything!

jJuanita Brown
Northglenn, CO

My Story

I had just turned 30 and was very excited! Then, exactly one week later I had the lumpectomy and the doctor said the dreadful words, "It's positive for breast cancer." Needless to say that I lost it and felt like I was in a dream...I was sick to my stomach and all I could think of was death. I wanted it to be a very bad dream, a nightmare, but I soon realized it wasn't and I had to make a choice. I could continue being mad, angry, upset, sad and wonder 'why me' or I could start fighting. Once I chose to fight, the pieces sort of fell into place. But when my hair started falling, that was like taking a second bullet to the heart. My family, friends and oncology team were an awesome support system and although there were days when I though I couldn't fight anymore, I didn't give up. I was sad that my kids were so little, but at the same time, that gave me the strength to keep fighting...giving up was not an option. There were definitely a lot of dark days, the kind that only survivors understand. My whole body changed and I felt as though I was disappearing when my eyelashes and eyebrows fall out. Yet through it all, I had to keep going. Today, I am happy to say that I am almost 7 years cancer-free and it feels great! I love a little harder, laugh a little louder and try not to hold back because I know that in the blink of an eye, your life can change. Life will never be the same because the emotional "damage" is still there and the "physical" changes are a constant reminder of those days where I had to "fight like a girl", but I don't dwell on them like I once did. I am a much happier person today and believe that attitude is definitely half the battle!

Adriana Lopez
North Hollywood, United States Minor Outlying Islands

Self detection of breast cancer

I have had mammograms since I was 35 years old and this year at 54 I found a lump in my left breast. Doctors had always told me that I had dense breast tissue but never recommended that I have anything other than mammogram. OB/GYN told me it didn't feel like cancer. Radiologist did ultrasound and told me it didn't look like cancer. Had a biopsy and it was cancer. Almost 4 months of testing and doctor visits later I had a double mastectomy on 4/30/14. Thank the Lord that my nodes were negative and I just had CT scans and a cancer blood test which were all negative. Now on to complete my reconstruction and this stretching part is very uncomfortable but I guess that is better than the alternative. I truly believe that doctors should recommend ultrasound on all women who have dense breast tissue!

Lori Cooper-Vasquez
Las Vegas, NV

Early Detection is important!

It was time for my yearly mammogram....at age 44, I had only had one done. It wasn't as bad as I had feared, yet it still wasn't the most pleasant thing and so I see-sawed back and forth about making an appt. to get my next one. Finally, the fact that it was free w/my insurance decided me and I went. Never in a million years did I expect to get a phone call asking me to come back in for more pictures and possibly a sonogram. I was really nervous, but kept telling myself, it was nothing. My friends told me it was probably nothing and I wanted to believe this. I went in and had the pictures taken, then had a sonogram and the technician told me "I am concerned." My heart leaped in my chest. She said "we need to do a biopsy". I had the biopsy and was told that I would have to wait at least a week, but that I would be hearing from my regular doctor. I was on pins and needles for four days when I got that fateful phone call....Cancer. But I have a message of hope in that it was caught early enough that it was only stage 1. I had a lumpectomy and then only had to have radiation; a fact that I am still praising God for. I am on hormone blocker therapy and, God willing, that will be the end of that. God took me through that journey and brought me through it to the other side, and along the way, He blessed me in the comfort and support of my sisters in Christ and my sisters in Pink. I am a survivor!

Lenny Lee Sanders
College Station, TX

Celebrating Me

My life began at age 47. Meaning I had to focus more on myself than I had with raising kids and a 28 year marraige. I had put off having my mammogram until then. I was having terrible left leg and hip pain, and could no longer stand for long periods of time. My GP sent me for all kinds of tests for my leg. MRI, ect. Everything was fine. The last thing I had to do was a Mammogram. No longer could I put it off!. Mammo was easier than I thought, didn't think anything of it until I was opening mail in the car one day. Hmm it was from the Radiologist to come back for additional scans. I immediately stopped at my dr.'s for a script, and made an appointment. My Dr. Started talking about Breast Cancer. Breast Cancer? Me? , but my leg hurts not my breast!. Back for scans and ultrasound. Appointment with surgeon. The waiting game is not fun. Lumpectomy, then back for clear margins. Er/Pr positive, Her/2. So chemo and radiation it is. Pills not to get sick, white blood count shot, back for fluids. Weeks of radiation. Herception IV after. Tamoxifen for awhile.

Finally feeling better except the muscle pain I went back to work.

This month it will be 5 years cancer free. I celebrated with a few cupcakes and vacation time. Thought I had won the battle. I went to the ER for a swollen stomach. Don't know what caused it. They took X-rays to check and saw a spot on my lung. I go to the lung Doc in one hour. A little scarred of course. I am not sure. Everything runs through your mind at this point. But I said my peace five years ago.

Anonymous
Sewell, NJ

So thankful

In 2007, my mother was diagnosed with Stage 0 DCIS in her left breast. Her prognosis was excellent-mastectomy with reconstruction, no chemo or radiation. Her recovery was long due to reconstruction with her own tissue, but she was cancer free. There was no history of breast cancer in my family, and I was only 32, so my OBGYN was not overly concerned, but he suggested that I begin getting yearly mammograms just to be safe. I went for my yearly exams and did self exams diligently for the next six years. It was my mammogram from August 2013, at age 38, that changed everything.

I got the call that I needed to return for a follow-up mammogram on a Tuesday. By Friday, I was having a biopsy done to rule out cancer based on 5 tiny spots, no larger than a dot from a pen, in the exact same location that my mother's cancer had been found 6 years before. I was mentally preparing myself for the worst, but hopeful that it was just a precaution.

On September 11th (this date now has a whole new meaning), I received the news that I also had DCIS. I met with the oncologist the next day, my husband by my side, and discussed the options. I decided that I wanted my risk of recurrence to be as small as possible, so I opted to have a bilateral mastectomy with reconstruction. This decision turned out to be the right one when weeks later I learned that I carried the BRCA-1 gene. This led to some other important decisions as now my risk for ovarian cancer was higher.

On October 22, 2013, I had my bilateral mastectomy and a bilateral oophrectomy at the same time. The recovery was long, but I was cancer free. No chemo, no radiation. Just reconstruction which was completed on June 13, 2014.

I have been spreading the word about getting mammograms! It saved my life. With my history, If I had waited until age 40, I would be telling a different story...

Laura
Burlington, MA
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