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It Isn't Easy, but it is Worth It

I had mammograms faithfully for about 15 years, then every six months when an "unusual mass" appeared in one breast. Then I was given a clean slate and no worry in March 2004. But my surgeon had scheduled a checkup in October which I decided I could cancel. Phone calls were not returned when I tried to cancel the appointment, so I went ahead with it. Lo and behold, he found a lump and stage 2 breast cancer which resulted in immediate surgery, six chemo sessions and 30 radiations. It was a ten-month commitment for a 69 year old grandma. My advice -- don't depend on mammograms but do the checking and don't cancel appointments. It is too life-changing, even when you survive. Now I have lymphedema (from the second surgery, which removed 20 lymph nodes), a compromised immune system and daily doses of anti-depressants when days are tough. Sometimes tying a knot in the end of the rope helps. It is the hanging onto the knot that is difficult. But it is worth it when I see a flower, rainbow, sunset, mountains, seashore, or visit with a grandchild or snuggle with a great-grandchild. No one said it would be easy, but it is definitely worth it. Thanks to family, friends, support groups and other survivors or I wouldn't have made it this far.

Anonymous
St. George, UT

My Inspiration

What keeps me going everyday, is my inspirational grandmother. Though she lost her battle with cancer, she lost it with her head held high. When she received the news of her diagnosis, she was shocked, yet optimistic. I feel very fortunate to be alive; not because I am a survivor, but because I brought the cancer to her attention. I was about one year old when I accidentally kicked my grandmother in her breast. She felt a lump and had severe bruising. She had a mammogram and was dealt with the horrible blow. But, she was always thankful for my rowdiness, because I brought the cancer to her attention before it got to be unstoppable, and remission was out of the question. She has always been an inspiration to me and always will be. I miss her, but I now know how I can help and why helping is so important. It also reminds me of how optimism is helpful. I always remember that no matter the troubles or difficulties I face, if my grandmother can be optimistic even though her difficulty was far worse than mine, so can I.

Savannah
Talbott, TN

My Mom, My Hero

In Loving Memory Of Leacy Blossom!

My mom was a strong, resilient, dignified, tiny, courageous lady. When my father passed in 1998 at the age of 58, my mom became the "solid rock" for our family.

In 2005, my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. A very rare and rapid growing type of cancer.She had to have her right breast removed right away. Unfortunately, the cancer returned, this time in her chest wall. It was the size of a fist. In 2006, she immediately began chemotherapy. for a whole year three different types of chemo combinations were tried with no success.

In January 2007 she had her first seizure. The cancer had spread to her brain. They tried radiation but it was just too much for her to take.

On February 17, 2007 my mom passed away at the age of 64.

My brothers and sisters saw her slowly slipping away, but we still held out hope. We take for granted that mom will be with us always. Unfortunately that is not true. We all still miss her dearly but the life that she lived is a living legacy for us to follow. She will stay in our hearts forever!

debbie
hope mills, NC

Blessings

I am 52 years old and was diagnosed with Inflammatory Breast Cancer (IBC) in 2006. It was so strange the way I reacted. I never shed a tear. I immediately started radiation. I would go in the morning, go to work, then back for more radiation after work. That was for five weeks. Then the chemo, losing my hair, being so exhausted. I don't feel like a strong person. I have God in my life and know that he has a plan for all of us. I just did not react like I thought I should have. Even my drs. were surprised. I worked as long as I could. I also got a brain tumor, a blood clot in my lung, ad had pnemonia 6 times in 2008. I just got out of the hospital with double pnemonia. I have my problems like everyone else. I am not super woman like I thought. But I have such awesome support from my family and friends. I have been through alot, but so does anyone else with cancer.It has made me realize how precious every moment is and to appreciate it. My heart is filled with love from my family. I have my soul mate (husband), 3 children, 3 grandsons, 3 sisters, my brother,my mother (my father(my guardian angel) has been with the Lord for 21 years.

I have gained so much weight and my husband tells me daily how beautiful I am. I have learned to appreciate every day, enjoy my family and friends and thank God for what he has put in my life!

Terri
Gulfport, FL

The Hand of God

I am not yet a survivor but am and have been a supporter. I was told of my first cancer almost two years ago. Saying the "C" word out loud was the first hurdle. I turned to prayer, not everyone can.

As if the cancer wasn't enough, I got a bad infection in the hospital. My immune system became shot. I had to stay away from all germs and went on a diet to boost my immune system. During this time, my parents became ill, my father died and two weeks later my son-in-law had three strokes and a seizure. Our family became closer and we prayed together and separately and felt the prayers of family and friends. It was like a gentle hug.

During this time a few weeks after the stroke, I found a lump on my breast. I thought it was nothing, but went to the doctor and he whisked me off for mamogram and ultrasound. I was booked in two days to have a biopsy. How could I tell the family? Haven't they endured enough? How do I tell my daughter?

I turned to prayer. I am terrified of bridges and during my prayer I saw a vision of our Lord on a bridge with his hand out, beckoning me to come. Of course I argued, but His hand invited me to come and so I did. His hand carried me across the bridge and carried me through my masectomy. The entire family embraced me and we survived and will continue to do so.

Lynn L'Heureux
Calgary, AB, Canada

Even the eyebrows?

It's strange isn't it that once you've had the cancer removed and you're told that chemotherapy's next, all you're concerned about is, "will I lose my hair?" rather than, "thank God I'm going to live!" Well, maybe it's not like that for everyone but, post-operation, that's what it was like for me.

I was assured countless times that I would lose my hair, but I still thought my strength of will, my pure force of personality would make those hair follicles shape up and hold on. They didn't of course, and I lost every hair on my body, yes even the eyebrows then, for good measure my finger and toenails did a disappearing act too. I never saw that one coming.

Through it all though I kept working. Yes, I needed the money, but working made me focus on other things: not cancer, not all the side effects of chemo, not mouth ulcers, not weight gain, not chronic insomnia. I focused on communications strategies, news business programmes, the shopping and ironing, all the mundane things associated with normality. And it helped. Not just me, but my three children who were 8, 10 and 14 at the time. I knew they had been frightened by the diagnosis of my breast cancer, and their world was close to falling apart, so bringing everything back to as near normal as humanly possible was my key objective - day in, day out.

It's not always easy to be positive when you feel attacked on so many fronts, but I found the sheer act of being positive was really infectious; we all became more positive as a result. I called it my virtuous circle. It could so easily been a downward spiralling one, and what would that have achieved?

Sharon Morrison
Essex, United Kingdom

Stay strong

I have survived breast cancer twice. I was 47 years old in 2001 when I had a lumpectomy and 33 radiation treatments, and 50 years old in 2003 when I had a double mastectomy. When my doctor finished the mastectomy, the plastic surgeon stepped in and put extendors in for the reconstructive surgery. My skin would not stretch because of the radiation, so months later, I had the extendors taken out and told my doctor to sew me up. I would love to have had breasts, but now I am really glad that I can go home, take them off, and lay them down! Some mornings, I have to actually look for them because I take them off just wherever!! I had never known anyone who had been through this, so I went in blind. We all have a purpose in life, and I think my purpose for going through cancer twice is so that I can help others know what to expect and what is going to be happening to them. I thank God every day for letting it be me instead of my mom, my sisters, or any other woman that I have ever met or known. It has made me a much stronger person, and I am so thankful for that. Just stay strong, have faith, and fight with all you have inside you.

Janet Roberts
Winston-Salem, NC

My Hero

My mother was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2003. She was devastated and so was I. My mom was, in my eyes, untouchable. She was a great mom, wonderful grandmother and the best friend I could ever ask for. My son was only 4 when she passed away in August of 2004 and to this day we don't know if it was the cancer that took her or if it was a heart attack, but I know she is looking out for us in Heaven and awaiting the day she can hold us in her arms again. This is for Agnes Fullerton February 3, 1941 - August 28, 2004. Mom - may you rest in peace until we see each other again. Love, Barbie

Barbara Dellinger
Hickory, NC

Renee' s Story - Give Cancer the Boot

I found a lump on my right breast in August 2002. My GYN scheduled for an appointment the day after Labor Day to have the lump checked out. My doctor scheduled me for 3 tests on September 3, 2002. I went for my very first mammogram and Ultrasound of my right breast. The next day I went for my fine needle biopsy. On 9/9/02, I was scheduled for a right side lumpectomy. On 10/8/02, I had my 1st chemotherapy treatment. On 3/26/03 was my last Radiation treatment. Then on 4/24/04 I was having difficulty breathing so, I went to the hospital and that when I found out my cancer had spread to my lungs. On 5/25/04, I was told I have Bone Cancer. By 11/24/04 I already had 9 quarts of fluid removed from my lungs by a chest tube, more chemo. When I had my 2nd chest tube, an additional 4 quarts of fluid was removed. I have also had radiation on by back. On 8/15/06 they found active cancer to my clavicle, sternum, spine L2, L3 area, pelvic area, hips, knees, and feet. I go through bone scans, CT scans, pet scans, and blood work every 3 months. All of this started when I was 32 years old. I am the only person in my family that has had cancer. So far I've had: 331 Chemotherapy treatments, 50 Radiation treatments, 1 lumpectomy, 2 ports, 2 chest tubes, way too many bones scans, pet scans, ct scans, and blood work. I see my oncologist every 3 weeks, and I have blood work done weekly. So, I am at his office 52 weeks a year since I started seeing him in March of 2006. I now live in Ohio, before that I lived in Tennessee.

Renee Gasho
Jamestown, OH

My Mother

Hello there, I am a 23 year old single mother of a 2 and a half year old son. My mother battled breast cancer for four years and the on top of that she was diagnosed with lung cancer in August of 2008. My Mother passed away November 13, 2008, at the age of 58. My mother was a caring and very compassionate Mother. She told me when I was pregnant that she was holding on long enough for me to "Have a Grandbaby for her to see." That was hard, and it's even harder when you have to see a parent go through this kind of pain and suffering. My mom was 54 years old when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She had to go through Radiation and Chemo Therapy numerous times. I wear my pink to support my mother Carolyn. I'm so down knowing that my son will not know his grandmother Carolyn, for he was young when she passed away, but I will always tell him about her. I want everyone to wear the PINK for my mother as well as other survivors... Pink is the best Color to wear! I Love You Mom, and I Miss you..

Beth Gray
Spencer, WV
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