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My Journey - Living Life to its Fullest

When I was 39 I was diagnosed with Ductal Carcinoma In Situ. I had a lumpectomy with clean margins, 6 weeks of radiation and took Tamoxifen for 5 years. I was then declared “Cured”. 5 years ago I also started having pain in my knee. This was diagnosed as a herniated disc in my back. When that did not get better I was sent for an MRI. The MRI showed cancer growing on my vertebrae. This was confirmed in a biopsy. A CT scan and bronchoscopy showed cancer in my lung. I was initially diagnosed with Stage 4 long cancer. Another bronchoscopy, genetic testing and another biopsy later confirmed that it was not ling cancer but that my Stage 0 breast cancer had spread and was now Stage 4. I had my ovaries removed and started taking Arimadex. My cancer retreated. I made a commitment to be as healthy as I could be. I started eating clean. I started working out, running 5 Ks and running sprint triathlons. I lost over 60 pounds. Life was good. At the end of last year I had some questionable scan results. All follow up testing was negative so we decided to schedule new scans in 3 months instead of 6 months. In the meantime I developed an intermittent squeezing pain in the back of my head. I was told I do not have the type of breast cancer that normally spreads to the brain and all tests were negative. I persisted in getting to the bottom of the head pain and finally had an MRI that showed a 3 cm tumor at the back of my brain. 5 weeks ago I had emergency surgery to have the tumor removed. They were able to get it all. I came out of the surgery with no deficits. I have had stereotactic radiosurgery to eliminate any microscopic cells. I am leading full life and just waiting for the green light so I can start training for a 15K race in June and a sprit triathlon in August

Shari Viner
Deerfield, IL

I am blessed!

I remember the week of my diagnosis clearly. The week went by so fast and so slow at the same time. It all began on a Sunday night when I felt an unmistakably large lump in my right breast. The next morning I saw my doctor who then referred me for a mammogram and an ultrasound.

The next day I went in for the tests. After the mammogram and ultrasound, my husband and I were called into the doctor’s office where we were told that it looked very concerning and they wanted to do a biopsy. The biopsy was scheduled for later that day.

It was 3 long days later that I received the call. On November 14, 2014 I was diagnosed with ER/PR Positive Invasive Ductal Carcinoma Stage 3.

December 23 I had a bilateral mastectomy with a 15 lymph node dissection. My tumor was 8.5 cm, 5 lymph nodes testing positive for cancer.

I began chemo at the end of January. I had 4 rounds of the Adriamycin and Cytoxan, and I'm now on the Taxol which is 12 rounds once a week. I have ahead of me 8 more rounds of the Taxol, 5 weeks of radiation and finally reconstruction.

The last 7 months have been a roller coaster. There have been times of depression, anxiety, and fear, but mostly it has been a time of joy. I have been blessed beyond words. I am surrounded by family and friends who lovingly support me during this time. I am coming to the realization of what really is important. My family, my friends, and my faith in my Savior. I know that the Lord does not give us more than we can handle. I know that as long as I trust in Him that all things are possible. I no longer ask; why me anymore, but rather, what am I to learn from this, and how can I use what I learn to better myself and to serve others?

Aimee Losee
Cranberry Twp, PA

Our Mom, Our HERO

Peggy, our Mom, was diagnosed with breast cancer on December 1, 2015. It's a day we will never forget. On May 8, 2015, she finished her 8th and final round of chemotherapy. This is another day we will never forget. She is now ready for her upcoming surgery and the rest of her healing journey. She is truly and inspiration to everyone who knows her. We are so proud of our Mom, our HERO!

Dana Peters
Destrehan, LA

Onwards and upwards..!

Today's date 6th May 2015

A year ago today I was diagnosed with lobular breast cancer. The first time I cried that day was late at night lying in bed cuddling my little lady, wondering how on earth I was going to tell her.

The next morning I woke up and knew that I was going to do everything I needed to get through this for her.

With the help and support of all of my friends, family and the fantastic staff at Guys Hospital I got through the lumpectomy, the BRCA2 diagnosis, the chemo and the double mastectomy.

A year later I can thank my lucky stars that I'm still here, I can look back and say "I did it..!"

Emma-Louise
London, United Kingdom

My inspiration, my hero

My breast cancer story cannot be told without also sharing my granddaughter's story. I was diagnosed with stage 1b (HER2 positive) breast cancer in January 2013. My family gathered to celebrate the results of my pathology report following my second lumpectomy which showed I had clear margins and no lymph node involvement, we were ecstatic. But the joy was short lived when two days later my youngest granddaughter was diagnosed with stage 4 Hepatoblastoma (liver cancer) which had metastasized to her lungs at only 17 months old. The tumor inside her liver was the size of a football. Suddenly my cancer felt like I had merely fallen and scraped my knee. My granddaughter became my inspiration and showed me what a real hero looks like. There could be no pity parties or complaints about the side effects of receiving chemo every three weeks when I watched her receive it every week and then go inpatient for the really serious chemo every three weeks. I never complained about my neuropathy when I watched my granddaughter holding the hospital wall and limping without complaint on her way to the Ronald MacDonald room to play. And I never complained about my loss of hair when she lost her beautiful red hair ahead of mine. She had no fear, she didn't even know that this was not the way life is supposed to be! She underwent two six hour surgeries, one to remove 60% of her liver and her gall bladder (the cancer had spread there too) and the other for a biliary reconstruction to repair a bile leak. After ten days in intensive care and a week at home she could squat to her heels and stand back up like every other toddler. She underwent a second regimen of chemo, more intense than the first, and the spots on her lungs vanished. She had a 100% chance of losing some or all of her hearing from the chemo and she lost none. My granddaughter showed me how to not just be a Survivor but also a Thriver.....you can do it too!

Cheryl C.
Albany, NY

This is my story

One year ago today I went to Lewis Gale with my girls Crystal and Mary. We all had pink hair fresh nails, I even had daisies on my toes. I checked in waiting on this faze to start. I don't remember anything from surgery but I remember going into my room finding them girls napping in my bed (that was great). I was lucky after having my mastectomy only staying one day. When Crystal took me home she got me settled in then went after my meds. Crystal took me to doctor visits, changed bandages, repack winds when needed, brought me dinner, washed my hair when needed and so many more things while taking care or her own house, 2 kids, 2 dogs, 2 cats and her hubby. Crystal helped me sooo much for months and still does. I could NEVER thank her enough!

After healing up I got my port and started chemotherapy. That made for long days and feeling exhausted for weeks/months. Yes Crystal did what she could to help. I remember about week after first treatment having a hand full of hair, I don't know why but I was a mess....Crystal came running and with her support I shave my head.

Now this is me a year later and I'm still rocking...yeahhhh Happy Anniversary to me

Cathy
Roanoke, VA

But 30 doesn't seem old enough for Breast Cancer

29/09/14 I was diagnosed with 'the dirty C word' at the age of 30. 2 days later I had a nipple sparing bilateral mastectomy with 18 Lymph nodes removed, 2 were found cancerous. The cancer was 30mm & oestrogen receptive. I did IVF & froze 4 eggs before starting 6 rounds of chemo in November. My last chemotherapy was on 19/02/15. 01/14/15 I started breath-hold radiotherapy at Peter MacCallum 5 days a week for 5 weeks. My last radiotherapy is on the 06/05/15!

For the most part of this crazy journey i've stayed pretty positive with moments of frustration. It's pretty rare for me to even think 'why me?' when i understand there are soo many people in the world who are worse off. There will always be someone else who is worse off than you. I also have a pretty good understanding that a lot of your suffering can be mental. The more positive you are, the easier it is to cope and for the people around you to cope.

There is still the odd day where I do find it pretty tough, especially when you're fatigued. Some mornings I don't want to get out of bed. I want to close my eyes and wake up to how things were before, or wake up when all these hospital visits are over.

I wouldn't say that I'm glad that this happened to me. What I do know is that, it's changed how I see things and a lot of people. I have a greater appreciation for the good people in my life and an even lesser tolerance for others. I realised that my time is precious and you just never know when something unexpected could take what is currently your life away from you or someone you love.

Monica
MELBOURNE, Australia

Cha-Cha's Journey-Life After Diagnosis

In 2006 at the age of 35 my sister passed away from breast cancer and left her four boy's the youngest was just a few month's old. This was devastating She was my only sister and she was my hero. My mother promised her that she would keep all of her boy's and look after them. Four years later my mother had a seizure and was rushed to the hospital. The doctor told me it was brain metastasis.

How could i tell the children this news? They lost their mother now their grandmother. What about me.. My only sister is gone.. Now my mother too!! I spent the next few month's taking my mother to chemotherapy and radiation. Within a year of diagnosis she passed away. I then became stronger than I've ever been or thought I could be. I took care of my son and my sister's youngest two children. Life is full of many struggles and hardship, let's face it life just isn't fair and the odds are definitely not always in our favor. I was faced with a great deal of responsibilities sometimes more than i could handle.

However things started to look up for me, I was on a popular television show and I started hosting. One night Aug 2014 I felt a lump.. I immediately began to cry. I knew In My heart it was cancer! I cried for my boy's that night, all I could do is think about them and how this will hurt them. A biopsy confirmed it was cancer! I started making appointments immediately. I got a second opinion on everything! Now I am 35 and have stage 2 breast cancer with lymph node involvement. I decided to get chemo first then have a lumpectomy and all lymph nodes removed and the final step will be radiation. After 8 rounds of chemo bi-weekly my tumor had shrunk so small the doctor couldn't feel a thing. The test from my surgery showed NO signs of cancer. I am currently undergoing radiation treatment. I feel hopeful and thankful!

Charslyn Brown
Miramar, FL

SAGE'S PRESCRIPTION

I was diagnosed with breast cancer, estrogen + and HER2Nu +, for my birthday in February 2010. Here are some prescriptions that I received that I know can help anyone on his / her cancer journey:

1. FAITH - can't have enough of that. He will be with you and will carry you when you can't find the strength to stand on your own. Romans 15:13.

2. ATTITUDE / LIVE FOR TODAY - We never know when or how we will die, but we can choose how to live. Attitude is such a positive.

3. SLEEP - don't fight it. As we sleep, we are healing.

4. LAUGHTER:

There once was a woman who woke up one morning, looked in the mirror, and noticed that she had only three hairs on her head. "Well, I think I'll braid my hair today." She did and had a wonderful day.

The next day, she saw that she had only two hairs and said, "I think I'll part my hair down the middle today." She did and had a grand day.

The next day, she noticed that she had only one hair and said, "I'm going to wear a pony tail today." She did and had a fun day.

The next day she didn't have a hair on her head. She said, "Yippeeee--I don't have to fix my hair today."

5. PRAYER - Prayer is the key to the morning and the bolt on the door at night.

It is not an easy journey, and each one of has to find her way, but we are NOT alone. I am now a five-year survivor, and God is using me to help other women coming behind me. We have helped over 1200 women and 6 men in 4 1/2 years through The Sparkle Caps Project. Paying it forward through the charity I founded is part of the healing process for me.

Susan "Victorious" Heimbigner
Sumter, SC

Showing our Support

Our mother was diagnosed with stage 1 breast cancer 8 years ago which, may I add, she is doing absolutely FANTASTIC!! To show our support for her, my sister and I decided to surprise her with this tattoo to show how much she truly means to us. We decided to make it even more personal of a tattoo by putting the word “Mom", located inside the ribbon, in her own handwriting! These past 8 years have been a lot of ups and downs but our strong faith in the Lord and each other always finds a way to conquer those low times! I thank God and cherish every day we are able to spend another day as a family, I love you more than words can express mom!

Heidi Johnson
Kewaskum, WI
Garden Vine Fleece Wrap Jacket
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