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All in the family...

I have always known that one day I would hear those dreaded words, "You have cancer". My grandmother, maternal aunt and mother all were diagnosed during my youth. Unfortunately, my mother was the only non-survivor of this group. Twenty-two years after her death (at age 38), I was diagnosed. Within five weeks I had bilateral mastectomies with implant reconstruction. Because the tumour was small, there was no indication of cancerous cells in the rest of the breast tissue and none of the lymph nodes were affected, I did not require chemotherapy or radiation. (The tumour was also grade 1, the slowest growing). I have just completed three out of five years of Tamoxifen.

My grandmother welcomed me "to the club". Her attitude has always been, "why not me?", rather than, "why me?". It definitely helps to keep a positive outlook during recovery. I do not feel that I had any battle at all, since the surgery was all that I required. I admire all those other women who did need further treatment and fought for their lives.

Now, three years later, my younger sister (age 33) has been diagnosed. I now live in the UK, and because of my strong family history, genetic testing was carried out. It shows a mutation for the BRCA-2 gene. I have two young daughters and one young son, and I hope that they will be able to use that information to prepare themselves for whatever may lie in their futures.

My husband's sister was also diagnosed last year--she unfortunately had a more aggressive form and required chemo--she is an inspiration.

Breast cancer has always been a factor in our lives. I hope one day they do find a cure and stop the destructive lineage that is in my (and many others) family.

Ann Daly
Jonesborough, Newry, United Kingdom

Why our mamograms are SOoooooo important.......

I hadn't gotten a mamogram in about 4 years when I decided it might be smart to get one. This was in 2002 in the fall. Well my test was for December. I got a call at work a few days later that they had found a mass in my left breast and it looked like it probably was cancer. In Jan. of 2003 I had a biopsy done and at the same time they removed the mass. Sure enough it was malignant. It was a soft mass that I did not feel with my self exams and the only way it would have been found is for the mamogram. The doctor had to put a wire through it before the operation just so they could find it when they went in. Thankfully it did not spread into my lymph nodes. I will never miss another mamogram. I now make sure I get them done annually. About the same time that I was going through this, the company I was working for folded up so I was left without insurance also. The Cancer Society helped me to get the right connections so I could get the help I needed.

Carol J Hess
Wilkes Barre, PA

Hope!

I was 32 years old and 7 1/2 months pregnant with my 4th child when I found my first lump. A needle biopsy reported fibrocystic breast tissue.Six months later I found another lump. I had a lumpectomy. Five lumps were removed that were all cancerous. I underwent a bilateral masectomy. No lymph nodes were involved. What a relief! After a full body scan I was diagnosised with metastasis to the liver. In a matter of minutes I went from stage 1 to stage 4 breast cancer. I was also told some of my lumps were Her2 positive. I received chemo therapy for 6 months and had a radiofrequency ablation to the one remaining liver spot. Thanks to an overwhelming amount of support people and family, I came out of treatment with a positive attitude and was able to find the humor in it all. I continue to receive Herceptin every 3 weeks for an undetermined amount of time. However, I am proud to say I am almost 3 years cancer FREE!!

Kymm Ehler
Waterloo, IA

My Journey

I was diagnosed 3 years ago with breast cancer. I was having pain in my breast along the sternal border. It had been going on for a couple of months and I really just thought it was an infection or something like that. There is a strong history of breast cancer in my family. My mom had it twice. A co-worker was diagnosed with breast cancer about 6 months before. I asked them if they ever had any pain and they both said no. I had had a mammogram about 6 months before the diagnosis that was clean. My doctor referred me to a surgeon for evaluation of the breast pain and he ordered a mammogram. I was shocked when it showed cancer. I had bilateral mastectomies followed by chemotherapy. I saw my oncologist last week and I remain cancer free. I want to tell my story because most of the focus is on self exams and finding lumps, but women should be aware that anything unusual, like pain in the breast, should be looked into immediately, even if there is not a strong family history of breast cancer.

Linda Kvedoras
Papillion, NE

Throat cancer

;HI,I was diagnose with cancer June 2006.I have head,throat and face cancer.Going through chemo and radiation can be a very lonely,difficult journey.With the support of my husband,family and friends my journey was alot easier.I cried when I lost my hair and all the obstacles i crossed.Emotions seem to play a crucial part in the genesis and healing of serious disease such as cancer and other illness(and literally,laughter seems to be one type of medicine).As I'm in healing now"For me the first and hardest part was healing the mind,....Once I believed with my heart that my body can overcome the disease there was an big improvement in my general health"What I want to point out is.....Never give up and laugh as much as you can,don't forget to love yourself. Hope to hear from you.Love to all and God Bless you.

PS: Mine was in my tonsils and Lmph nodes.I finished treatments in 2007.

I am in remission,but the radiation left me with some severe side effects,that I am now dealing with.I can't hardly talk or swallow.I now have anxiety attacks.I am although thankful that I am alive...Love to all the cancer patients.

Sharon Hadrava
Newark, OH

No Bad News

When I was waiting for the results of my biopsy in 2001, I told my 3 daughters there could be no bad news; whatever happened, it would strengthen me, my family and my ties to the universe. After my mastectomies, I said the only sadness I felt was that I couldn't give blood. My daughters all went out and gave blood for me! How blessed am I?!

Since then, I studied art and have had showings, I continue playing piano and have started learning ukulele. Life starts again every day!

Rhoda A.
San Antonio, TX

Cancer Free

It was back in 1992 that my Breast Cancer was discovered. I had just had a beautiful baby girl in 1990, so I was devastated to find out that I had breast cancer. I had a lumpectomy first, then a mastectomy all in a matter of 2 months.I was told by my doctor that my cancer had been there 10 years prior to 1992, but, was slow growing. That would have made me 23 years old!! I was very fortunate that I did not have to have chemo, or radiation as my lymph nodes were clean. It's been 17 years, and I am still cancer free :)

Wanda
Tucson, AZ

Breast cancer=loss of breast, but NOT faith or humor!

I went to my GYN Dr,"I have pain in my left breast." After a very brief exam,handed me a "Routine" mammo script,knowing I have a strong family history of BC,and said, "Get this done within the year. I'm more concerned about your bone density since you have been on the Depo shot for 5 yrs." She handed me a "Bone Density Scan" script and ordered it ASAP.Went the next day to a Mammo Office for the BDS and met my first Angel.I handed her my BDS script and by the Grace of God, handed her my "Routine" mammo script. She asked if I was having any "lumps,bumps,or pain." Me:"Yes, in my left breast." Her:"This says Routine." Me:"Yes, but GYN isn't concerned." Her:"Well, I AM!" She proceeded to call my GYN, "let her have it," and had a "Diagnostic" mammo script faxed within seconds! Her:"Honey, you are getting your Mammo today and if they find anything, you will go straight across the hall to US." So,I was whisked across to US, but she was looking at my Right breast, telling me,"It's only a fibroid.It's nothing to worry about." 1 week later,laying on a biopsy table,I was told, "No, this is no fibroid, this is 100% Cancer."Went to a surgeon to be told, "Yes, this is cancer, but everything will have to wait while I go on vacation for 3 weeks." It was time to FIGHT and PRAY! New Dr's=mastectomy/reconstruction.Faith, family, friends, and humor made it all possible to endure! Do not let Dr's run you over or mess around with your life! FIGHT&PRAY&LAUGH DAILY! I'm living proof it works!

Stephanie
Greer, SC

Grateful for Life

On a hot July night in 1998, at the age of 38, I had a dream. In the dream there was a lump in my breast. I checked it when I woke up and sure enough, there it was. It was also malignant. I had a lumpectomy, radiation, and chemotherapy. I also took Tamixofen for five years. By the grace of God, I am still cancer free 12 years later.

Carole
Kinston, NC

10 years cancer free!!!!

Hello everyone....

My story begins with a routine mammogram...radiologists found 'something' and told me to get re-tested in 3 to 6 months...not feeling comfortable about that, I went to my surgeon and told him what the radiologist had said....he did a biopsy to 'put my mind at ease' and 3 days later told me it was cancer....I had a mastectomy and reconstruction 10 years ago and am here stronger than ever to tell about it....Follow your heart and seek that additional consult...it could mean the difference...To all you survivors...continue on and enjoy the 2nd chance you so proudly deserve!

Debbie Maiette
Pittsburgh, PA
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