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Lucky star

I've been really lucky !

On March 31st 2014 I heard those words that most women dread.. You have breast cancer.

My luck was that I had an excellent radiologist who just wouldn't give up and a lot of good timing.

In September 2013 I had a mammogram done but I wasn't particularly worried as it was just something my ob-gyn said was a good idea. I was not in a group at risk and there was no history of breast cancer in my immediate family. The radiologist did the mammogram and an ultrasound and said that he'd like me to come back in 4-5 months for a control. I went back end of January 2014 therefore without any concerns for an ultrasound.

As a result of this ultrasound  the radiologist asked me to do an MRI as « there was something suspicious in my right breast ». I was about to go on vacation in February, so booked my MRI appointment for the day after I got back. While I was waiting for the results of the MRI in the Doctor's office, the secretary asked me to go see the radiologist who informed me that there was nothing of concern in the right breast. However, he continued there is something a  « little odd » in the left breast, but as he said, « MRIs throw up a lot of things ».... He did an ultrasound immediately and confirmed that something did not look right. The good news he told me was that if it was bad news we had detected it really early. To make an already long story short, the results of the following biopsy came back positive. I had lobular invasive cancer, but the tumor was very small tumor (7 mm). So, I was very lucky because they detected it so early. I had the tumor removed end of May and am finishing up radiation therapy this week. Hormone therapy is up next.

The message in all this ? Never ever neglect those check ups ! Don't put them off ! You just never know.

Irene L
Paris, France

Breast cancer 1o1 my story

my story begins , 1998 ,I went for a mammogram ,got a called from my Doctor they had found a lump in my left breast ,went into hospital ,had the lump removed ,followed by 27 radiation treatment was doing ok. Then 4 year later 2002 I went for a mammogram they called and said I was fine no cancer ,I was very large busted so, I decided to have a breast reduction went into see the plastic surgeon ,he checked me ,then said I wont do the surgery till you get a biopsy, went to get the biopsy knowing everything was all right ,but it wasn't ,The mammogram did not pick up any of my cancer ,I had stage 4 breast cancer ,it was in all my lipnoid ,so, I had both breast removed followed by 9 chemo treatment 27 radiation when finished, it came back in a form of bumps across my chest ,more chemo 9 then, I went to get a pec scan it showed cancer in my right lung too 18 month of chemo followed by hurceptin then my lung was operated on a 1/4 was removed ,Since then I have been doing ok ( finding cancer early is the key ,please get your Mammograms ,or some other imaging to be sure If in doubt check it out )

Lorraine Burton
Findlay, OH

Half A Life Ago

This year I turned 60 ! I am happy, healthy, and living my life as much in the now as I have learned how !

It is hard to believe that half my life ago, I was fighting for my life !

Thirty years ago, I found a lump in my breast , and my life changed forever. As a nurse, I was well aware of the disease of breast cancer. Perhaps because I already had a young aunt who had a mastectomy. Perhaps, because I cared for women with metastatic disease, in my work at the hospital.

I was fortunate to have the "new" option called lumpectomy, so I opted for this breast sparing surgery. It was the 1980's.

All my lymph nodes where removed and 9 out of 15 where positive for cancer. My treatment : 6 weeks of daily radiation to my chest, followed by 12 months of chemotherapy (five toxic drugs), every 3 weeks !

The 12 months proved to be challenging to my abilities to work as a nurse, and to be the mother I needed to be, to my two little girls. It was the hardest 12 months of my life.

With support, humor, and prayers, and determination , I made it through. My priorities changed, I grew in my faith, and was grateful to be alive !

I received Tamoxifen for 6 years (another "new" treatment), until my mammogram showed recurrent cancer in the same breast.

Then I had to have a mastectomy. Gratefully, there were no signs of disease anywhere else in my body.

By then, my aunt had lost her battle with breast cancer , and a cousin was diagnosed and also lost hers . I attended her funeral 6 weeks after my mastectomy.

It took a long time for me to believe that I was going to win my battle. And I have.... and I was changed forever, for the better !

Cancer is horrible, but you can survive it, and triumph ! But first , detect it ! Do your SBE and get your mammogram as recommended.

Live well

Diane Reder
Grantham, NH

Amazing Mommy

I was 8 years old when my mom got breast cancer, my brother was 7. We had already gone through a lot the last few years, both grandparents on my mom's side died within a year of each other and my dad's mother just beat lung cancer. When we found out everyone told us to be strong and for some reason I seemed to realize the gravity of the situation while my brother was obvious to it and I don't blame him.

My mom was so amazing and so strong that I still admire her to this day and after having both breasts removed she immediately went back to living her life even though she was in pain. All she did was shrug off everyone's doubt and did it all her way. She is amazing and I'm so thankful to have been able to have her as a role model and most of all my mom.

Rebecca Rees
Lakeside, CA

My cancer story: 23 and pregnant

I want to start off by saying that only you know your body. If you think something's wrong, it probably is! Ignoring it is not the answer!!

In 2011, I found out I was pregnant for the second time. When I went to the gynecologist for my first checkup, I voiced my fears over a lump in my right breast that had seemed to grow bigger at an alarming rate, and after looking it over, she decided it probably wasn't a big deal, probably just pregnancy hormones. To ease my fears she made me an appointment to have it biopsied. Little did I know, my life was REALLY about to change.

Long story short, it was malignant. Here I was, 23 and 27 weeks pregnant with stage 3 HER 2+ breast cancer. Chemo began immediately. Every two weeks until I was 36 weeks pregnant. My daughter took chemo treatments while in my womb. Yet I never got sick, not once. Just lost my hair and tired all the time. On June 9, 2011, my angel Faith Mackenzie was born. A little on the small side, and bald as I was, but otherwise perfectly healthy.

Four chemos later, on October 6, 2011 I had a double mastectomy with removal of some lymph nodes under my right arm. After that surgery I was given the diagnosis of cancer free!!! 3 months of radiation followed, which compared to chemo was pure hell!!

After all this, 3 years later, I realize that I am very blessed. That a lot of this could have been avoided had I not ignored the signs. At first, I was depressed and had body image issues but with the help of awesome friends and family I am now able to share my story. God won't lead you to anything you can't handle, every problem in life is a lesson, and behind every dark cloud is a rainbow because I may have gotten sick, lost my hair and my breasts (and for a while my sanity too), I gained one of the two greatest gifts I've ever received, my daughter.

Anonymous
selma, AL

Diagnosis: Cancer

In October of last year a lump was found during an annual mammogram-just two weeks before my daughter's wedding which I was hosting at our small wedding venue in the country. Needless to say my husband and I were devastated and were faced with the decision of sharing that information before the wedding. I made the decision to wait-the tumor was ductal carcinoma in situ-slow growing and well within stage1 criteria (ER+PR+HER2-) My wonderful Doctors supported my decision and were poised to take it out immediately after the wedding. By the time the happy couple had returned from their honeymoon I had had the tumor removed via lumpectomy and we knew everything there was to know about my cancer.

Looking back over the past couple of years I realize I ignored warning signs and carried on a lifestyle that was literally killing me. I had a dimple in my right breast, tenderness under my right arm, I wasn't sleeping well, I was eating too much red meat and drinking too much wine. I wasn't choosing organic foods and I heated plastic in the microwave. I had an active lifestyle but had stopped all rigorous exercise due to a bad hip so my weight was adding to the problem. What I didn't have was any significant hereditary factors...so the news was soon out of left field-but that's why I ignored the signs! (I will add here that my dog had started acting funny! She wanted to be by me more...Now since I don't believe in that hUlla-Ballu, I say this with great trepidation-but it is true...)

What I know:

Mammogram saves lives

Cancer isn't picky-don't ignore signs because you don't have family history

Be particular about your cancer resources but definitely learn/know your body!

I hope I have influenced others to get their heads out of the sand and get their mammograms-ignoring doesn't mean it isn't there!!!

9 months out and I am getting back to a new normal. I am looking forward to my first annual mammogram so I can confirm what I already know-I am cancer free!

Julie Landrum
Lampasas, TX

Cancer, Me And My Family

Cancer started affecting my family when my brother was diagnosed with brain cancer December 31st 1998 and he passed away April 30th 1999. My father was diagnosed in 2010 with lung cancer which with chemo it went away but came back so we found out Friday the 13th April of 2012 that it had spread to his brain and he passed away May 16 2012 what happened to be my fourth wedding anniversary. Two months later my mother was diagnosed with lung cancer and with chemo it went away. 10 months later it was back and eventually spread to her liver.I was a traveling nurse at the time in Sitka Alaska. I was fortunate to have my mother come to Alaska which was one of her lifetime dreams. March 16th I came home for 2 week visit, and on March 24th I had my normal mammogram. on March 26 I got the diagnosis of breast cancer in my right breast. on March 29 my mother passed away from her cancer. I'm a 16 I had a double mastectomy and my 2 tumors had tripled in size but it had not gone to my lymph nodes. June 3rd I started chemo and just had cycle 4 of 6 yesterday. I will have to continue with an infusion every 3 weeks for a year to get my Herceptin. I hope to continue my traveling nurse after my chemo is done.

I want to thank all my family and friends you have given me so much support that it has gotten me as far as I am at this point!

I am determined to not let cancer take a fourth member of my immediate family! I want to let everybody know that I will be posting a picture of my last day of chemo and eventually a picture of me saying i am cancer free.

Teri Bennett-Fortmann
Marion, IA

1 year 6 months clean

In Jan. 2013 I was told I had carcinoma in situ. I went for a check up on a mole I had removed and I was floored when the Dr. told me this. I cried all the way home. Once I had time to think about it I knew there only one option for me "double mastectomy" I wanted this out of my body real quick! Shortly after I had the surgery. It was like no pain I ever felt before because I can not take any pain meds I seem to have a reaction to all. 4 weeks of ultimate torture. It got easier. I elected for reconstruction, but it failed. So 2 operations to take off all the extra skin was needed. Nothing to that. I just went back for my check up and the Dr. told me he feels 99% sure it did not spread any where and I will not get it back in the breast walls. I refused any other treatments. I feel I am cancer free now and for the grace of God I hope he keeps me that way. I had my tattoo put on my leg saying "cancer survivor" over the pink ribbon. I feel I am truly blessed.

Sandra Kaufman-Lentes
Ashland, PA

My Cancer Story

My story isn't a long one, but it's one I wish I had never had to tell. That dreaded word was said to me back in August 2013 by the Dr. that read my mammogram. Both sides showed fibrous cells but right side look ed more to be forming cancer. So next steps was biopsy which proved it was and more mammogram to find exact location. Then the next step I wouldn't wish on my favorite animal, I had to be injected 4 different places around the right breast to light it up so surgeon could see exactly where it was. It was hiding on the chest wall. Surgery then was done on September 18th. Started healing and went back for follow up with surgeon thinking I would be released but found he had to go back in and remove more tissue on October 18th. Took 30 rounds of radiation therapy, finished in January 2014. Also started pill to possibly take for the rest of my life. Now waiting for insurance to okay re constructive surgery. I lost 2 1/2 sizes on my right breast. All this taken place right after finding my fiance had colon cancer and was in the hospital for 10 days; having over a foot of his colon removed. Right now we are both cancer free and pray to God we can stay that way. Both if us had lost our spouses to cancer. He lost 2 wife's to breast cancer and my husband had color entail cancer

Susan Lindsey
Elizabethtown, KY

Fight like a girl face ur fears against breast cancer

I was told in march 2014 I had breast cancer.no one ever wants to hear them words.April I had a double mastectomy Then was told I needed chemo that I was a high risk and had 63 % chance it will come back.now I'm a 39 year old woman who worked everyday never been sick always on the go type.i live at home with my mother who is on disability so of course it got hard money wise.i started my chemo treatments I go every week and every three weeks for my big treatment.im also her.2 positive.my heart broke when I went in the chemo room seeing so many people fighting for their life.i have done four big treatments and got two more to go.what I have learned so far is it's up to me how this can go I can sit and say why and poor little me or I can stand and fight this demon and know God is in control and will never put nothing on me that I can't bear.i use to take everything for granted now I'm thankful for everything time is valuable .ur life isn't over cause u have cancer.no it hasn't been easy at all and this is the hardest thing I ever had to go through.but I refuse to give up in gonna fight all the way to the end. u have to tell ur I want to live.i will face my fears and know God is right here with me.sometimes people get mad at God why did u allow this to happen to me.i know I did.but now I see this is just a chapter to my book a story to be told.if I lose this battle against cancer im still turn out a winner.😊 Fight like a girl.

bobbie campbell
trion, GA
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