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A mothers love

My name is Dawnmarie. I'm 48 years old a mother to 2 sons and a 3 time breast cancer survivor. My mother had breast cancer and so did her mother. I'm Braca 1 & 2 positive. I was 24 and my son was 15 months old when I was told I had cancer. I immediately had a mastectomy with reconstruction. I endured chemo and radiation. I was newly divorced and afraid of leaving my son alone. I did well. Fast forward 15 years. I now have 2 sons ages 12 and 15. I was told I was sick again. This time I was given 6 months. That was March 2007. Second mastectomy, chemo, radiation and 36 surgeries to date and I'm still here. I was stage 3B with mets, and ovarian cancer stage 1. My sons are my sole reason for being here. Never give up. Doctors can be wrong. And a mothers love can beat anything.

Dawnmarie Souza
Riverview, FL

My Wonderful Husband

Hi, I am a Breast Cancer surviver. I had stage 2 in the left breast. I had a Lumpectomy, but then later I found out that I had the BRAC1 gene so my Breast Surgeon decided that I should have a Biliateral Mastectomy. I had 8 rounds of aggressive Chemo. Through all of this my husband Guillermo Trinidad would not leave my side from the moment I found the lump Till now. My husband was there sitting with me on the bathroom floor when I was sick from chemo. I was unable to wash or dress myself so my husband took on the role of my caregiver and didn't complained. When my husband had to shave my head because I lost so much hair from the Chemo I seen how hard that was for him. He was by my side at every surgery. When I lost my breast, he still showed me how much he loves me. He never made me feel less even when I hated the way I looked. My husband would surprise me with pretty cloths and sprays just to let me know that he loves me and to keep me from getting depressed. He took my role as a mom and dad for our boys. I would not be here if it wasn't for my husband being so amazing. It was hard for me, but it was also hard for my husband to see me so sick and helpless. My husband gave me the strength to keep fighting even when I felt like giving up. I love him so much and feel so grateful to have an awesome husband. I love you babe!!

Amand Trinidad
Brooklyn, NY

It's Working

I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2015. I had taken a biopsy a few days before leaving to go out of state for my Residency, because I was working toward my Doctorate Social Work degree. I found out that the biopsy tested positive during this time, but refused to go home. I have fought through 6 months of chemotherapy, 6 weeks of radiation, and bilateral mastectomy. I literally worked from my chemo chair, and I only took 2 weeks off work for my mastectomy. Did I mention that I'm still in the Doctor of Social Work program with a 4.0 grade point average. I'm also encouraging and supporting a daughter in college. She is a senior in college. I've had some challenging situations: I've done all this without my car (had to get a motor, now other things are wrong with it, but I haven't missed any appointments or work), radiation really damaged my skin and it has taken a long time to heal, and recently developed cellulitis). I am currently on arimidex and is constantly tired and it makes my body ache and makes it hard to walk, but yet I keep pressing on. Through it all, I remain thankful and I've kept the faith. I am very thankful for my support system. They have been great. My family has been with me every step of the way. My motto through my journey has been...... I refuse to let my diagnosis determine my destiny. Thank God for what HE has done and what HE is doing. I feel that it's working. THIS IS MY STORY….

Tiffena Pierce
Hope, AR

Just diagnosed

I had initially had a thermogram done and was advised they had seen nothing out of the ordinary, that was only less than a year ago. I went to my PCP after feeling a very hard lump on the underside of my lt breast. She sent me for a mammogram 2 days later and was diagnosed on July 25th of this year, at the age of 41, with Stage 2 invasive ductal carcinoma with HER2 still pending. I had to have a lumpectomy to remove a piece of the tumor because they couldn't get a reading from the biopsy sample. I've been told that I will have to do chemo (which I'm also using holistic therapy in conjunction with), followed by surgery then radiation. Thankfully it hasn't spread any further than to just a single lymph node in my armpit. I am just beginning this journey and at times it's very overwhelming.

My late grandmother was a BC survivor and so won't I. I have a wonderfully caring husband and 2 boys (18 & 4) to strive to live the best, healthiest life I can possibly live, so that I can be there to see my grandchildren someday and overindulge them silly. I am so very confident that I will kick this in the butt, and strongly encourage every woman out there to remain diligent in breast exams, whether that be self exams, thermograms or mammograms. I CAN"T STRESS IT ENOUGH!!

Heather Pelletier
Acton, ME

The Finish Line of a Half Marathon

Just six months after my last surgery for breast cancer I completed a half marathon. I have been there...sick in bed, exhausted, in pain. But on the other end of this I can say, you can have a life again. If me sharing my story inspires someone to maybe try and sit up today, or know there is a light at the end of the tunnel; then it's worth it.

Running doesn't come easy to me, never has. But I knew if I could accomplish something I couldn't do before my diagnosis, then I could learn to trust my body again. I tried the normal training ways and it was hard. I felt my feet were made of lead and I was breathing through a straw. Devastating. A friend, who has run many marathons herself, told me to stop trying to train for distance. Train for time. Run for 20-30 min and walk when I needed to walk. This made life much easier for me. But still the long runs were difficult. I could NOT breathe. My husband told me athletes wear breathe right strips. I tried it. They are magical.

But the bone pain was debilitating from Arimidex. It was crippling. I tried Claritin and it helped! I still had some painful runs, but was able to push through them. The last obstacle was my fear. What if I fall? What if I can't finish? But I remembered feeling that way before chemo and the day of I was ready to face it. Day of the race, I was fully joy. It wasn't easy and the last three miles were a doozie! I won't lie. My husband met me at the finish line and we crossed holding hands, me crying my eyes out. All of that pain from the past year, I let go on that run.

This is YOUR life. And you only get one shot at it. Go out and live it. Run, walk, crawl… whatever. Do it! Laugh. Love. Take chances. DREAM BIG. You deserve your very best life and it’s right here waiting on you.

Ree Merrill
Los Angeles, CA

I will praise God even in the mist of whats going on

I was diagnosed with Triple Negative breast cancer, stage 3. I found out on my birthday when I turned 54. I thank God still, because his word says that all things work together for good, I am getting ready for surgery after 4 cycles of chemo. I have an amazing oncologist and breast surgeon. I want to say to all women and me, don't give up, keep the faith. God is a Healer.

Deborah
greenacres, FL

Always remain positive

Hi my name is Darlene, I have been battling stage 3 Triple negative breast cancer since October 2014. I went thru numerous tests, cat scans, bone scans, MRI, Ultra sounds, 6 needle biopsies and numerous blood work. I went thru over 20 rounds of chemo, a mastectomy, lymph nodes removed which came back with tumors and an explander and port placed in my chest. My immune system was affected which resulted in me getting injections 3 days a week during chemo. I went thru 30 rounds of radiation. 8 months after I had a recurrence and was on the operating table to get another tumor removed. Because of the recurrence I needed to get treatment again. I recently went thru 28 rounds of Proton radiation. I am currently on a chemo drug called Capecitabine. My expander and port are still in my chest. My expander won't come out until next year. I will be getting a latissimus Dorsi flap procedure. I am suffering from a lot of nerve and bone pain.

My advise to anyone going thru cancer is to always stay positive and never give up. We are all on the same team. Warriors💞

Darlene
Parlin, NJ

No Mo' Chemo!!

Today was my last chemo treatment and I have been on cloud 9!! No Mo' Chemo for me!!

I was 38 years old when I diagnosed on 2/26/16 with stage 2 breast cancer and had my first chemo treatment on 3/10/16 taking the last one today 7-7-16!! I will now move onto surgery and then radiation, I am waiting for those magical words "cancer free".

I have had mammograms since I was 23 because my mother passed away at the early age 31 of breast cancer in 1991. I had my routine mammogram on 7/2/15 that was clear and I found the mass in my breast on 2/13/16 myself. I was always dependent on the mammogram finding something because I did not know what I was looking for. However when I felt this I knew it was not right. Since I have been on this journey that had been my main thing to tell people and I feel that it is not my "platform" so-to-speak. Do not be dependent on a mammogram, feel of them if you feel something in one, feel the other to see if it is the same. When I felt my mass it was like nothing I had ever felt before. If I had not found it when I did it could have possibly been another 4-5 months before my next mammogram and who to say it would not have moved further through my lymph nodes by that time. Do your self great exams!! That is what saved me, I didn't do them often at all just randomly and praise God I did it that day and felt it. He brought me to this and He is bringing me through it!!! My family has been amazing and my husband and love of my life has been my rock through all of this!! Thanks for listening to my story, now onto recouping from this last shot of chemo and then onward to surgery!!

Sincerely, JT from Texas!!

Jennifer Thornton
Groveton, TX

My Breast Cancer Journey

My mother died from breast cancer at the age of thirty four, so I knew my sister or I would inherit the “Big C”, but I never thought it would be me. In October 2000, I found a lump while doing a monthly breast self-exam. I was thirty-two years old and just finished graduate school. I thought I had my whole life ahead of me. In a matter of days, everything changed. I remember thinking “I’ve been given a death sentence.”

Emotionally, I went up and down from panic to the elated feeling that I would beat the disease and then back to fear and despair. I had a lumpectomy, chemotherapy, radiation and hormone therapy. Ronnie, my boyfriend at the time was also my caregiver and one of many in my support system. Mrs. Ethel, my manager at the time, was a breast cancer conqueror and a Christian, which was a double blessing. She accompanied me to my appointments, prayed with me and was a comfort. My family lived in New York, so God gave me an extended family in Florida. God had it all planned out. He was the light in my darkness. My family came down to visit. They kept me in prayer and were supportive.

All the thoughts running through my mind resulted in sleepless nights and when I did finally sleep, I was plagued with nightmares. My doctor put me on medication for depression which helped me sleep. Thinking back on some of those nights, I remember while lying on my bed, I prayed for God to take me home to be with my mom because I didn’t have the strength to go on. But, God got me through those dark times. I began seeing a therapist and in 2006 I started a support program specifically for younger women.

October 19th I will be 16 years cancer free. I don’t have to look at my scars and feel uncomfortable about my body anymore. I have learned that it doesn't matter who you are or what you’ve been through, you are beautiful in spite of your circumstances.

Charron Walker
Jacksonville, FL

Surviving in Style

In September of 2014 (shortly after my 40th birthday), I felt a small lump in my breast. Convincing myself it was "just a cyst," I was devastated when doctors confirmed my worst fears, and I was diagnosed with Stage IIB triple-negative breast cancer. Still in shock, I met with my new oncologist to figure out my game plan and looked ahead to a long year of chemotherapy, surgeries and radiation.

During my second round of chemo, I ran my hand through my hair and clumps came out. I started crying. Soon, my boyfriend finally shaved my head. I closed my eyes and cried as my remaining hair fell around me.

The next day, I felt FREE. It was finally over. With a background in fashion, I was determined to keep my style sense throughout treatment. Wanting to look more natural, I never wore my wig. Instead, I had fun experimenting with scarves during chemo and received lots of compliments. Cancer took many things from me, but I wouldn't let it take my style!

I wanted to create a resource to assist other breast cancer survivors in keeping their sense of style during treatment, and Survivor Moda was born. Survivor Moda both empowers breast cancer survivors to survive in style & provides breast cancer information and resources.

While still in radiation treatment, I created a seatbelt pillow to comfort my chest for the car rides to and from the hospital (and have used it daily ever since!). A fellow breast cancer survivor pal was due to have surgery, and I made one for her as a gift before she was admitted. She excitedly said, "I didn't even know I needed this!" I assured her although she may not have known it, she would be glad to have it when she left the hospital. After seeing her response and incorporating feedback from other breast cancer survivors, I created The ParkPuff, a portable, stylish, chest-comforting seatbelt pillow for breast cancer patients.

After more than a year of 15 chemotherapy rounds, three surgeries and 32 radiation treatments, I'm thankful to officially be declared cancer-free!

Rachel Park
Los Angeles, CA
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