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Sis and Me

When I was 60 years old I was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer and had to have my left breast removed. After the masectomy when I began to take chemotherapy, the doctors said that it was unlikely that I would lose my hair until after the second treatment. When I had only had one treatment and it literally began blowing out the window of the car as we rode down the street, I decided cut it all off. I figured me with a bald head would offend fewer people by than me shedding hair all over them. I called my son to bring his clippers over and do the honors.

As my son sheared my locks, my grandson snapped pictures. Before it was all gone, I had had a bowl cut and a Mohawk as well as some other really weird styles, and we had all laughed and laughed. Finally, it was all gone and we took a picture of my shiny bald head that I emailed to my daughter, my sister and several trusted friends and family members. I must say, I really had a pretty good looking cranium without all that hair to camouflage it.

The next day, I received a reply from my big sister and she included a picture of her own 64 year old BALD head! She had shaved her head in support of me! I had seen young men and women who shaved their head for various reasons but I couldn't imagine a woman older than myself doing it for any reason. How blessed I felt to be loved that much!

Now, I'm a survivor and she's still my biggest supporter!!

Julia Sugg
Suffolk, VA

Ready to Battle this Demonic Disease

My name is Cathy Gould, I am a 47 yr old woman who was just recently diagnosed with Stage 2 breast cancer. I haven't started any chemo or radiation, but will be in about 2 weeks. To everyone out there dealing with this disease and to those of you who have dealt with this, my hat goes off to you. Ya'll are my hero. After I have fought this disease, I'm going to have a mastecomy on both breasts and have them reconstructed with my own body fat and saline implants, so I plan on eating alot . I already have my wigs (very hot wigs) false eyelashes and stocking up on water, ensure, boost ,asparagus, vitamins and smoothies. Also my brother is a Radiation Oncologists who is overseeing all the procedures with my doctors. I am very lucky to have him and have complete trust in him. I WILL FIGHT THIS DISEASE WITH EVERY MEAN BONE IN MY BODY... I REFUSE TO HAVE ANY DISEASE TAKE OVER MY BODY!!! THIS IS MY BODY AND I DID NOT INVITE CANCER IN. SO EVERYONE BE STRONG BECAUSE WHEN GOD CREATED US-- HE MADE US ALL STRONG WOMEN WHO CAN HANDLE ANYTHING THAT CROSSES OUR PATHS. I WILL SURVIVE THIS, CONQUER THIS, AND LIVE FOR A VERY VERY LONG TIME..........READY TO BATTLE...CATHY

metairie, LA

"Don't wait 6 months!"

So... I was at my regular annual mammogram and the Dr noticed calcifications .. his recommendation was 'let's watch this and please come back in 6 months for another reading". As I was sitting there with the Dr and the radiologist and he gave me the news and walked out of the room, the radiologist turned and watched him leave the room and close the door and she turned to me and said ' If I were you honey, I wouldn't wait 6 months at all - it's easy enough to go get a biopsy done - painless and if nothing comes of it - fantastic, but then you will know". So I took her advice and well - that started my journey - 1 biopsy, 3 lumpectomies and 1 masectomy later and that was 5 years ago. I think of her often and wonder if she saved my life by contradicting the Dr's advice... I thank God for her daily!

Rhonda Baker
Charlotte, NC

Guardian Angels

Something told me to do a self-exam in the shower that night in Dec, 2007, and I felt a lump. The first thing I did was check the other breast, but there wasn't a matching lump. I shared the news with my husband, and then made an appointment with a gynecologist. It had been awhile since I'd been to the doctor, but I found a very compassionate one, and when he didn't feel the lump, he sent me to the hospital for tests. Well, fast forward a couple of months and it turns out that I had stage 2 breast cancer with one affected lymph node. Luckily, where the tumor was located, the surgeon was able to save a lot of the skin, and a mastectomy and reconstructive surgery took place the same day. I also underwent 6 chemo treatments, lost my hair, and am now taking tamoxifen for the next 5 years. When I first heard I had to have chemo, all I could think about was feeling sick and tired. However, I had no nausea, thanks to anti-nausea meds, and was only mildly tired for a couple of days after each treatment. My plans were to go to work between chemo treatments, but a fractured foot sidelined my plans; luckily, I was able to work from home during my chemo treatments. I don't care what I have to take, and for how long; as long as it keeps the cancer from returning, I'm game. I've met many wonderful people on my 'survival' journey, and have had the opportunity to mentor a newly-diagnosed breast cancer patient recently. Plus, after 50+ years of having straight hair, my mom got her wish, and I have a head of curly hair. Thanks to my guardian angels for looking out for me.

Peekskill, NY

My Mom

I have a story to tell. My Mom, Rose Ciochon. Written by Marie Basara, one of her daughters.

In 1970, my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer and they did a radical. It is not fun sneaking into the hospital and hearing that you mom didn't want to live disfigured. She only did the surgery for us 3 kids. She cried. My dad was sick for years with Emphysema and she was a caregiver, she lost him in 84 and I cry with her. We never knew she had breast cancer as kids, but we found out as teens.

My mom, she strives and survives and is 84 and wild. She's had some hard times this year with autoimmune issues, but she strives to beat the odds every day.

There was no support then, but now, there is. We do the Knauz drive every year and have fun. They make her feel good, she puts on her pink hard hat and we drive. She is recognized as a long time survivor. She is so amazed that there are the support groups, surgeons and openess about this disease. She was disfigured after a surgeon tried reconstruction, lost jobs from being sick from the infections, she cried. MY MOM IS MY HERO and a 39 year survivor for us and deserves all the happiness in the world. She is our world and we love her and we are greatful for every day we have with her.

Her family that love her so much: Frank/Carol, Brent/Marie, Janee/Dave/Grandson Jakey; Grandpets; Hannie, Brandy, Tivo, Summer, Black-Jack, Peanut, Fauna.

Mom deserves the world of happiness............ We love you mom.

Marie Basara
Salem, WI

My Cancer Garden

I lived a quiet life, tended my garden and then one day...I had Breast Cancer. Diagnosis Stage I, triple negative (the hardest kind to beat) and I opted to survive it all.

The Chemo (6) was tolerable but I had horrible shin/leg pain but never a moment of nauseau. The hair disappeared and I learned fun ways to tie scarves. The Radiation (37) was not bad, a little burning, a little infection but that passed quickly.

What kept me going, besides my precious granddaughters Audrianna (4) and Makayla (1-1/2), was my online friends who sent prayers, love, gifts, and 2 of them even flew to be with me for part of it all.

My neighbors cooked for me, took me to Dr visits and I was surrounded by such a "family" that I never knew I had. I had to get up each day, I had company. I had to get out of bed..someone was at the door. They gave me strength to fight!!

On the days I was able, I tended my garden. I communed with the Earth and planted seeds that I just felt I would live to see become flowers. Most of all I took laughter with me. Each Dr visit ended with one of us in tears...usually the Dr or nurses. I wore Halloween masks, they called "here comes trouble" at the UNM Cancer Center and I joked with one and all. Let me tell you, it was much more fun laughing than it was crying and I tried to look forward to each day with a blank slate. I made "to-do" lists and I did them. I had a plan. :>)

Until a few weeks latest MRI found 2 spots. Can I do this again? I am a SURVIVOR! What do you think?

Debbe Ringoi
Albuquerque, NM

Invasive Ductal Carsinoma

It was January 2009 when I scheduled my routine mammogram. Coming from a large family from upstate New York, I have 4 sisters with one being an identical twin. It never crossed my mind that I would get a call saying that my mammo was suspicious as no one in my family had ever been diagnosed with breast cancer. Two weeks after my first mammo I was in for my second one. After my second one was completed the drs office wanted me to stay and have an ultrasound done on my left breast. I left the office and returned to work and that was when I started to think that maybe something was indeed wrong. This was on a Friday. The following Monday I received a call from my drs office stating that she wanted me to have a MRI done but would have to have it approved through my insurance first. Finally the first week of February I was approved for the MRI. It was Monday and my dr told me if I didn't hear anything by Thursday to give her a call. The very next morning, she confirmed that the MRI showed a small maliginant lump in my left breast. The following week I had an appt for a core needle biopsy which confirmed that I had Invasive Ductal Carsinoma. My surgeon informed me it was stage one, said he would do a lumpectomy which he performed later that week. I completed 3 1/2 weeks of partial breast radiation in April and I will take Femara for at least 5 years. The good news is I am doing fine with the support of my boyfriend and family and that I became a member to a bigger family..breast cancer survivor.

Albany, NY

I Made It

My journey began early Nov 2007 I had my annual Mammogram. One week later the report said all is fine, see you next year. Thanksgiving night, I did my own breast exam and found a lump in the nipple. Fortunately I had my annual GYN appointment the following Monday. She was not concerned but ordered an ultra sound, that came back inconclusive, recommended a biopsy. Had that done, came back cancer. It was invasive but my tumor was only .08 cm and no Lymph Nodes had been affected. In Feb 2008 I had a bi-lateral Mastectomy, late Feb discovered I had contracted MRSA at the hospital. Spent six weeks with a PICC line in my arm receiving Vancomicin treatments for 2 hours every single day. March 2008, had my expanders removed, MRSA contaminated them. Waited until July 2008, had the expanders put back in, with another PICC line for one week of treatment before, during and after this surgery. Late July began expanding. Nov 08, had my implants. April 2009, had nipple reconstruction done and left implant readjusted as it had fallen. Will have Areola tattooed in 4-6 months. I did not have to have Chemo or Radiation. No family history. Always had regular Mammogram's, I do take Femara daily for 5 years, 4 to go. Prayer, my great support team, great team of doctors, and a whole lot of Faith got me through this journey. Praise be to God for healing me . The journey is almost over and I'm ready to have my life back free of surgeries and disease. DO THOSE SELF EXAMS ! ! ! ! !. It SAVED my life.

Cocoa, FL

By the Grace of God

My daughter Stephanie, has survived Breast Cancer twice. She was 29 years old when she find a lump. After alot of test, they said she had Stage 4 Breast Cancer. It had spread to her Liver and Spine. No surgery this time. She had her 30th birthday not to long after that. Then she started 15 mouths of chemo. One week she would have chemo, the next week Herceptin. That went on for 15 mouths. Then she had a PET scan. It was clear! Only for 3 mouths. A mammogram / ultrasound showed a small lump. This time she had a lumpectomy, and 6 weeks of radiation treatments. She has a PET scan every 6 mo. now. She's 35 years old, and has been in remission for 3 years. By the Grace of God my daughter is still with us today.

Lewisport, KY

I Thank God and His Angels Every Day

In June 2002 I started a diet to lose weight for my daughter's wedding and my son's graduation. I started to take fat blockers to lose weight fast, but thanks to the pills a lump popped up on my right breast. On September 11, 2002 I had a lump removed and was diagnosed with breast cancer, what a blow, but through my faith in God I got through, just the taught with no hair, we are so vain. I started chemotherapy on December 16, 2002 on our 30th Wedding Anniversary, at lease my husband and I were together, and radiation started in June 2003. I didn't lose the weight, but that didn't matter anymore, I lost my hair, but I was still able to attend my son Marc's graduation that year and Monique's wedding on June 28, what a busy year. I just felt bad as I couldn't be there for them, in helping them out as I should, but only when I could.

Thanks to God and all the friends (angels) in my life, they made it a lot easier to face treatment, and all the new friends I made in Moncton, hospitals and L'Auberge Mgr-Henri-Cormier, it was like a home away from home. I think that through the years my faith has become stronger. I am a survivor, as on Feburary 25, 2009, and on March 22, 2009 I became a grandmother to two boys. We have to be thankful for all we have in our lives , because there are a lot others, worse off than we are.

Miramichi, NB, Canada
Floral Delight Solar Light
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