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1 year later

I found a lump in my breast while breast feeding my son. Thinking it was a clogged duct, I delayed seeing my doctor for a bit. After further delays for this and that, and almost not getting a biopsy because the techs didn't think it looked cancerous, I finally was told that I had breast cancer on New Years Eve 2007. I had a mastectomy in February followed by chemo and radiation, ending in mid-October 2008.

I took part in an exercise study during chemo. Doing aerobic exercise 3x/wk, chatting with others at the same stage as myself who were part of the study, plus the support of my moms' group who took turns watching my two kids, and family who flew across the country to be with me on chemo days and through radiation, really helped me get through the summer.

I'm so grateful for the support I've received, and try to give back whenever I can. (and I finally have hair again!)

Valerie
Ottawa, ON, Canada

How Important is a Mammogram

Over the last 3 years I have clicked everyday to help another women receive a mammogram. I did this because of the importance for all women to receive one. What I neglected to do was get one for myself and as a Canadian mine was free. After waiting for almost 3 years to have a mammogram I finally asked my doctor for the requisition to get one done in April of this year. When the first one was done I was called back for a repeat, then sent for a biopsy. On May 7th of this year it was confirmed that I had breast cancer. The Doctor's removed the mass and I am now starting my radiation treatment. I thank God everyday that I finally had the sense to go for the mammogram and belive me never again will I wait 3 years to have another one done.

Sharon McTamney
Ajax, ON, Canada

19 Years and I'm still here beating the odds

At the age of 36, I discovered I had breast cancer. I wasn't totally suprised as my mother had died of breast cancer at the age of 52, when I was 26 and her mother died of breast cancer at 52 when my mother was only 17. I grew up very aware of breast cancer but it was not a common occurance. Sadly this is not the case now.

My sister last year had breast cancer even though she was part of the tamoxifen blind study. It turned out she was on the drug. My sister-in-law and her sister died of breast cancer. That is just in my family circle and I know so many other women who have had to deal with breast cancer.

My place in this sad arena is to be a hope to anyone who has to deal with this horrible disease. I am not a survivor, I am a living example of hope. It does not matter how long we are here but how we fill that time up. It is the dash between the year you were born and the year our time is up.

Patti Rhodes
Pompano Beach, FL

Mammography Saved My Life. Twice!

At the age of 35 I had my first mammography, a baseline they said, so they would have something to compare future ones to. They found a small tumor, the size of a pea. With three daughters, ages 2, 3 and 5, I was willing to do anything. The doctor said we would kill an ant with a sledgehammer and I was willing. I had a lumpectomy, chemo and radiation. Twenty years later, I had my routine mammography. Out of the blue they found two areas in the same breast. I am now post mastectomy. I chose a prophalactic mastectomy for the other side. I am undergoing reconstruction at this time. No chemo this time! I am here to tell you mammographies and aggressive therapies save lives. Encourage the ladies in your lives to have them. Drag them if you must!

Jan
River Vale, NJ

Stage Zero??

I had never heard of Stage "0" cancer until my annual mammogram in 2008! The computer found some cells in two areas that were suspicious looking. A computer-driven biopsy showed these cells were malignant DCIS cells. I had a lumpectomy followed by radiation therapy. The pathology report from the surgery showed NO EVIDENCE of cancer cells. How was this possible? All of the cells had been removed during the biopsy! I am still in shock over this! My oncologist was just as surprised. My surgeon made sure that I understood EXACTLY what was going on here. I found it incredible. I am now looking forward to my 2009 annual mammogram. I encourage every female I know to seek out a digital imagery mammogram. It was my salvation and could be yours too.

B J Price
Burnsville, MN

You are never too young to do SBE

I was in bed one day watching a morning show when a 28 year old woman found out that she had breast cancer during her pregnancy. I thought to myself, Oh, how horrible...by the way, let me check myself today. I was very diligent about checking myself every month. To my surprise I found a lump in my left breast. I thought, could this be right? I am only 35 years old? I got nervous and called my OB/GYN to no avail, they still weren't in. I had to wait until 10 am to get someone. When I was able to speak to someone they told me not to worry, it was probably nothing and wanted to give me an appointment for the next week. I insisted on being seen the same day. When I went in he did feel the lump, but told me not to worry because I was so young. He sent me to get an ultrasound done. It looked suspicious. He recommended a surgeon. They surgeon also assured me it was probably nothing. He removed the lump and it came back positive. It was 2.5 centimeters. I was stage II cancer with no lymph node involvement. This all took place in a matter of weeks, at my insistance. I had 8 sessions of chemo and 33 radiation treatments. To this day I am cancer free. It's two years now. Don't be afraid to be aggresive and insist on prompt attention. It's your life, take control. Thanks to my faith in God and the help of my family and friends I am a stronger woman today.

Evanguelia Galarza
Perth Amboy, NJ

Cresskill Cougar Bosom Buddies, Champions Fighting Breast Cancer

A local team for the American Cancer Society's, Making Strides Against Breast Cancer, won the hearts of many when they raised nearly $19,000 in two short months to further breast cancer research and support! Their team was 100 people strong and included entire families, children from 5 of the district's schools, 5 survivors and local community clubs, studios and businesses. The team was a perfect example of a community that came together for a cause that touches the lives of too many.

Regina Marie Morrissey
Cresskill, NJ

Thanks for great doctors!

I was bothered by several "cysts" in my left breast that I had drained over the years. I had one that continued to come back or have "debris" in it. Finally, I went to see a surgeon who suggested removing it surgically so that it would stop coming back!

In April 2000, I had surgery. It was removed and found to be forming pre-cancerous leisons -- which would have eventually turned into cancer. I am grateful to my surgeon -- who by the way, is a survivor herself -- she had a mastectomy and is a multiple year survivor!

My thanks and prayers go out to this surgeon -- she saved my life!

Kate

Anonymous
Albuquerque, NM

Know When It Feels Different!

Last year I lost 40 pounds (on purpose!). After I lost the weight, the fibrous tissue in my right breast felt a lot different. It was pushing towards the nipple, and hurt off and on. I thought I'd go for my mammogram (which I kept up with every year) and they would tell me to cut down on caffeine! They did a diagnostic mammogram, didn't see anything but dense tissue in the right breast, but wanted to have a further look at a tiny spot on the left breast. They did an ultrasound, and didn't see anything but dense tissue in the right, but wanted to re-look at the tiny shadow on the left breast. They did the biopsy, which I was sure would be fine, because 1) if it's both breasts it's not usually cancer 2) if it hurts, they say it's not usually cancer 3) no BC in my family and I'm only 45. We were even laughing while waiting for the results because "Dr. Beaver" was called over the intercom, and my husband said he must be a gynocologist!! Well, it was cancer in both sides. The MRI showed the right breast had a 5.2cm lump that was like a spiderweb in the dense tissue. The left side had a 2mm lump, that probably saved me because they kept re-looking!

After being diagnosed as Stage 3, I've been through chemo (ACT), gene testing (negative), double mastectomy with LD flap for reconstuction, and am through with 19 of 25 sessions of radiation. Then a little bit more "fixing up the girls" with a small surgery at the end, and five years of medicine and I'll be done!

I have an AMAZING husband, family, friends, and health care givers!

Know your body!!!

Traci Clancy
Florence, KY

Retirement Surprise

In July of 2007, I had just retired from 35 years of teaching and was eagerly charting my new life. The surprise of a lifetime came when a my routine mammogram showed a small tumor. After a biopsy proved positive for cancer, my exciting, new plans screeched to a halt. My family and I were lost in a daze. But, the lumpectomy went well, chemo and radiation weren't the nightmare I expected, and nine months later, my retirement plans were back on track. One amazing part of this journey has been the incredible care each health professional has given to me and my family. Without exception, doctors, nurses, and support staff have been warm, friendly, and focused on my needs. The fright and shock of cancer diminished as I realized that research and oncology are breaking it down, treating it more successfully each year. My two year survivor anniversary is coming up in July. I thank God each day for the millions of people dedicated to eradicating this evil disease, giving me a new lease on life. Hair grows back!

Catherine Cate
Johnston, IA
Winter Apparel Blowout
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