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Never Give Up Hope

At the age of 60 I had the routine 3-yearly mammogram. After a few weeks I got a letter asking me to go for a further mammogram, they found 2 tumours in the same breast and I was told I needed a mastectomy. I was terrified, I had never had any sort of operation in my life, and moreover I weighed 21 stone and wasn't sure they would even be able to do the operation or that I would be able to come through it safely. However the surgeon said all would be well, and it was. I was in hospital 10 days, they removed the whole breast and took out some of the lymph nodes from under my arm, and I had to go back a couple of times a week for about 5 weeks to drain off the fluid which collected - fat tissue holds a lot of water! Because they were happy that they had removed all the cancerous tissue I didn't have chemotherapy or radiotherapy, and 6 years on I am still fit and well. I have to take Arimidex for 7 years, and so next year will be the last one and I hope to be pronounced completely clear then. And I have managed to get my weight down to 17 stone just in case I should ever need another operation.

Joan Cowdell
Haverfordwest, United Kingdom

Battling the unknown

When I was diagnosed with Cancer in October 2008, I had no idea of how much I did not know. Most of us know someone who has had it but ultimately know very little about there journey. I can now say that experience will remain the best teacher.

However, the 1st reaction was fear and fear can waste time. Thanks be to God it was short lived (1) day to be exact. I told my husband, he contacted my friends, we talked with our (6) children, and started my journey.

I think that many doctors do patients a huge disadvantage, by assuming this is something we can handle. I feel that the 1st person I saw should have been a survivor or counselor. I needed to be immediately partnered with someone who understood what I was feeling and what I needed to do next.

My blessing came within a week; two women came to my immediate rescue. Because of the close network of friends I had without my knowing I had a team of women to help me with what started as a journey and has proven to be a daily battle.

These women helped my husband and I make decisions about my course of care, provided me with literature that helped us understand my cancer, and have provided emotional support to keep me smiling and happy when I thought I couldn't bear anymore. My trials and tribulations are far more than I can share in such a short amount of time. But I want to be clear all women diagnosed need some form of support offered thru there doctors.

Don't make victims of this disease have to stumble through there care unnecessarily. There are so many women willing to give back.

Hawthorne, CA

Walking in the Footsteps of Hero's

Walking in the footsteps of Hero's is a journey that began for our family in December 2007.I undertook a gruelling 96km's trek, over 9 days through the Papua New Guinea jungle in one of the most remote & historically significant parts of the world. Together with a group of 12 women, including my sister, we raised $140,000 for Breast Cancer Research. We began our journey in December 2007 when Mum (56) experienced pain under her right arm. A few weeks later Mum received the diagnos of advanced stages of Breast Cancer. For us, Xmas is a constant reminder of the beginning of Mum's courageous journey because she started ChemoTreatment on the 28th of December 2007.

To get ready for Kokoda does take guts! Its not just a physical journey, but quite an emotional one as well, which has not been without sacrifice. I feel extremely privileged to be able to share our story with you, but it hasn't been without heartache, a few laughs and also many tears. Mum is recovering so well after her Chemo, Mastectomy and Radiotherapy. Her prognosis is very good and although we can't say remission just yet, we are tracking toward a very positive future and is back to fulltime work.

So, to all you ladies with your scaves, and concaved chests, please have faith that you are not alone. My poem is for you.

The bright days outweighed the blue, in her eyes at least.Her smile still lit a room even though her spirit and her breast were gone.Her chest a reminder of a fallen hero, a track which will forever remain close to her heart. A silk scarf so soft it protected her from prying eye's is the public face of love, of courage, honour hope and beauty.You are my modern day hero.

Nicole Wood
Brisbane, Australia

My Story

I started a new job as a temp and didn't have health insurance, but I found the number for free mammograms. Called and had one, all clear. Kept the dr. as my OBGYN. Had insurance and went for a yearly mammo. Found a lump. Worried, I have 4 daughters and 2 sisters(1 a twin) No lymph node involvement. I don't carry the gene for it. It's now been 3 years, and I'm still cancer free. Continue clicking on the free button.

Terry Davis

Newark, NY

Terry Davis
Newark, NY

After 7 years free...Round 2

My name is Sharon and I am a 7 yr survivor. In 2001 I ran the gauntlet including a stem cell transplant. I worked for a Dr who did not provide health care for his staff. He told me to take vit. E and that it was probably nothing! In 2 months the pea size lump grew to 9 cm's and invaded my lymph system resulting in modified radical with removal of 19 axillary lymph nodes, red devil chemo, radiation and a stem cell transplant! all because I missed a mammogram.. I was a few months late for my mammogram in 2008, I felt it more important to take care of wounded and sick family members. After 7 1/2 years its back!!! On May 18th 2009 I had my 2nd modified radical and am waiting to find out if i need chemo. God willing I will continue to be a survivor. The moral of this story is DONT PUT OFF MAMMOGRAMS!!!!! for any reason. Bless all my survivor sisters, fallen sisters and thier caregivers.

Sharon Kemerley
Oklahoma City, OK

You Don't Have To Be Old To Have Breast Cancer

I never thought it would happen to me, I was 37 with no family history of Breast Cancer.

I was lying in bed one night and discovered the lump in my breast. I put off going to the doctor because I thought well it may be a cyst that would just go away as quickly as it had appeared.

Worst thing I could have done was to wait, that would cost me....I should have gone when I first found the lump and not 3-4 months later.

I waited until I had my yearly checkup and I had to go the next day to have a mamogram and ultrasound....then I got the news that I needed to have surgery to remove tissue for to send to the lab, and that was set up within that week, then I got the news...It was breast cancer....I chose to have a lumpectomy and because I had waited and the tumor got the size it did I had to have chemo, If the tumor had only been smaller I would have not had to have chemo just the radiation and Herceptin treatments ...that will be 4 years ago this October.....I am a survivor ....I just want all women no matter their age to do self exams and go and check it out right away if they find even the smallest of bump, it could save you a lot....and your life....

Being Postitive and knowing that I was going to beat this, I believe is what helped me survive...Do your own research and learn as much as you can about the disease and know exactly what your doctors are talking about when they talk with you. Best wishes to everyone out there with this disease. Keep your head up and a smile on your face!

Cullman, AL

My Little Sister Sandie

My story begins in 1949 when my grandmother (Dad's Mom) was diagnosis with breast cancer. Two of her sisters had just died of breast cancer. Cancer was still at that time a word that was spoken in a whisper, not said out loud. She had a mass mastectomy in the spring but died on Christmas morning, my dad being 13 years old. We always knew that breast cancer ran in our family but were never worried about it as Breast Cancer doesn't come from the fathers side of the family or so that is what my doctor said in the 80's. NOT TRUE. This past Christmas 2008 my 39 year old sister the youngest of the 3 girls, 6 kids called to say she has breast cancer, her youngest child being 6 years old. Her doctor order her a BRAC Gene test to see if she carries the breast cancer gene. Well, she got the results back and she did. She has now had a double mastectomy and is doing chemo, the last treatment is this weekend June 17, 2009, Fathers day weekend and then she will have a hysterectomy in about 8 weeks due to her being a BRAC1 gene carrier. Everyone said that I need to have the BRAC test done I didn't want to do the test, I wasn't for sure if I was strong enough to handle the results if it came back positive. I did and found out that mine was negative. It was a bittersweet day telling my sister that I had tested negative when she had tested positive and was going thru all of this. She is the bravest person I know she has kept a positive attitude she has held her head up even with no hair on it. Love you Sandie!!!

Patti Larkin
York, SC

1st generation Cancer Survivor

I am 39 years old and was diagnosed with Breast Cancer in December of 2008. I grew up knowing that my grandmother, 2 great aunts, my uncle and several cousins had died of cancer. The ladies all had breast cancer and my uncle had pancreatic cancer. Little did I know that the BRCA-1 gene mutation ran in my family. I didnt even know about the gene mutation until I was diagnosed and the liason that I was dealing with asked if there was a history of cancer in my family. After telling her my story she suggested I get tested. I received my results and sure enough I had the mutation. I then had to make the hardest decision of my life...mastectomy or lumpectomy. I chose the radical mastectomy, thank goodness, the .6 cm tumor that was diagnosed was actually surrounded by lots of smaller tumors. The total of the tumors was 1.8 cm. I thank my OB/GYN for starting my mammograms at 35 not 40 because of my family history. If I had waited until 40 to start my mammograms, I might not be here....

I take my last Chemo treatment on Friday, June 19, 2009.

I am a 1st generation Survivor!!!

Sandie Anglin

Sandie Anglin
Edgemoor, SC

My Mom the Rock

I knew my mom was a strong woman, all of my 44 years. I had no idea how strong till she got cancer. I fell apart but she said "I will be fine don't get upset till I do." To tell the truth all 6 of us kids where in shock - how could our mom have cancer, what kind of joke is this? I was in shock being her oldest daughter. I had to go away from her and the situation for a whole day to just get myself together. I got back home and she and I talked about the procedure and all of the choices to be made. Chemotherapy and radiation, two words she had heard but never knew how or why, but now she does. My mom took the option to lose both breasts. No more bras for her. My mom is free at last and she is very happy. I am happy for her. Mom has been in complete remission for over a year and all of the tests are good and she is doing great. My mom is the best mom and she still keeps right on going, nothing can slow her down. This year she will be 70 but you couldn't tell it. I am very proud to be her daughter.

Kellie Balaoro
Garland, TX

Fighting till the end

My sister was diagnosed with breast cancer about 6 years ago. (Our Mother died at age 57 from breast cancer). She had a lumpectomy, 30 radiation treatments and was doing great for about 2 years. Then she had to have surgery for liver cancer (caused by her long-term bout with Hepatitis C). She got through that and then contracted Diabetes. She lost 30 pounds and changed her eating habits and was doing well. Through all of this she "kept on keeping on". Finally, last year in February she pased away due to a massive bacterial infection. Her immune system had been so compromised that she could no longer fight back and was gone in two weeks. She was only 71. During this period of time, she supported me in my battle with Stage 4 Colon Cancer. (I am in remission now). We must all support research for all types of Cancer, and someday we will overcome this terrible disease. Have your Mammograms yearly and "keep on keeping on".

Sally Pearce
Turlock, CA
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