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That which does not kill you......

I am a 43, widowed with 3 boys.. I've always gone in for regular check ups, but twice now I have had cancer, and twice they have failed me. I have read some of the stories on here and it is amazing what the doctors miss! I had st 3 cervical cancer 3 yrs ago, went through radiation and chemo. I am still fighting side effects from that. Last Aug I had a mammogram and ultrasound done on a lump I had found in my left breast 6 years ago. It was cancer, even though for years they had said it was fibrocystic breast disease and breast cancer didn't hurt! This time, I had the surgery, chemo and am getting reconstruction lined up. I have vowed to be a voice in all of this. You can't go by what the doctor tells you. You know your body better than anyone. You have the right, and the obligation to your family and yourself, to speak up until you are heard. Don't take no for an answer. If you don't like what you hear, there are plenty of doctors out there willing to listen. No one will stand up for you if you don't stand yourself. Life is too precious to throw away on someone elses opinion. Things like needle biopsies, MRI, PET scans, all of these are fantastic diagnostic tools that are out there. Don't ever just sit back and say, oh, the doc says its ok when they only do a pap or a mammogram or ultrasound. Insist, loudly if you have to, that more testing be done!

I will beat this again. I am strong. I have my faith. I have my family. And I will never sit silently in a doctors office again!

Jackson, MI

Mammograms aren't always enough!

I don't mean to put a damper on the whole mammogram thing, but I want women to be aware that mammograms are not always enough. I had a "clean" mammogram May 31, 2007. On June 9,(9 days later), I ran the Casper, Wyoming marathon. The next day I am sitting in my office, feeling myself up, thinking "Everything hurts, even the boobs."....which they didn't actually, but the pectoralis muscle did. I felt a tiny lump the size of a green pea. We "watched" it for several months, and it did not go away, thankfully, as it turned out. When Huntsman Cancer Institute did their own computer enhanced mammogram, they couldn't see "anything"...NOT as in "no cancer", but as in "diddly squat" because I have such dense breasts. I got an ultrasound and MRI which revealed that THAT lump was nothing, but beneath it was a mass that had been growing for 5 or 6 years and had already spread to 10 lymph nodes! Stage 3C cancer...even WITH a mammogram every year for the past 20 years. If your breasts are dense, you need MRIs, NOT mammograms, especially if there is a history of breast cancer in your family. Mammograms are not the holy grail in breast cancer diagnosis. I'm sure not impressed with them! So far, I've had 5 surgeries, 16 weeks of chemo, 7.5 weeks of radiation, and I still have less than a 13% chance of surviving another 10 years. No thanks to mammograms. Ask, no cross-examine, your doctor to make sure you are getting the diagnostic tests you really need!

Sandy Mitchell
Rock Springs, WY

I have survived stage 4 Breast Cancer

I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer at 41. A year later I found out my

doctor never read the report from the frozen specimen taken during

surgery. By then I was stage 4. I had a bone marrow transplant which has kept the cancer away for 15 years now.

Thanks to all the doctors, nurses, and staff at Duke University Medical Center I am living a happy, healthy, cancer free life.

Yes, sometimes even the worst cancer can be cured. Lois W.

Lois White
Hernando, FL


Hi my name is Chasity Medo. I'm 29 yrs old, been married for 8yrs and a mother of three beautiful boys. In October of 2008 was told I had stage 2 breast cancer...after just giving birth to my 3rd son in July of's been a rough road for me and my family. Me trying to juggle having a new born and trying to deal with my illness has been a real challenge. I had lumpectomy in Nov, 08 then was told 2 of my lymph nodes were infected, and I'd have to do chemo and radiation. Hearing the word "chemo" scared me more then anything, having three children. I thought, "Oh my God, my babies, I can't be sick, they need me - especially my newest one!" It was so hard to accept I'm too young my life is just beginning and all the sudden it felt like it was ending. I knew if I wanted to be there for my boys I needed to do what I had to so I could see them grow into men. I started my first chemo in Jan,09. It was the scariest day of my life. The hardest part for my boys was losing my hair - my middle son loved to sit with me on the couch and play with my hair. I continue to work while am fighting cancer, it hasn't been easy, but I just had my last chemo on April 23rd and what a relief! Now it's off to start my radiation, almost there. I continue to look to God and my family to give the strength to keep my head up and keep going - its a long battle to fight but I will not let this cancer fight me, I will fight it.


Another Speed Bump

I had cancer in my tonsils at age 22. My kidneys quit working when I was 36. Now, at the age of 50, I'm in the process of beating breast cancer. What in the world could give one ordinary woman so much to deal with? My theory is that the toxins in my surroundings while I was a kid growing up in the Lake Erie water shed were way too much for my body to handle. It does me no good to be angry about it now. But it does make me want to reach out and tell the world that we can not keep polluting our environment and expect that there will be no consequences. I and the thousands of women facing frightening treatments and uncertain outcomes are the consequences.

Protect your sisters, your daughters, yourselves. Be conscious of your own actions and the practices of the businesses you work at and patronize. Look at the ways they play a part in improving or destroying the world around us and make your voice heard if they are endangering our children's future. We have to take care of each other.

Like Terri Garr observes in her book "Speedbumps: Flooring It Through Hollywood," when we hit a speedbump - when things get difficult - it forces us to slow down, be careful - mindful of our needs and of what is happening to our selves and those we love. And then we get over the speedbump, we keep on going, hopefully smarter, happier, and in a way that contributes to easing the suffering.

Slow down, be curious, make your needs known, and take good care of the Earth and those around you and they will take good care of you.

San Clemente, CA

Young Survivor

I was diagnosed with invasive ductal carcinoma in December 2007 at age 34. I found a lump in my right breast during a monthly self breast exam. The surgeon told me that it was "probably nothing", but that we should remove it anyway so that when I had my first mammogram (at 40), everyone wouldn't "freak out."

I will never forget hearing the words, "you have breast cancer." The first thing I thought was, "I'm going to die and leave my kids without a mother." I was never so scared in my life.

Everything happened very quickly after my diagnoses. An MRI and follow up biopsy showed a seperate and different cancer in my left breast. within a few months, I had 8 rounds of chemo, a double mastectomy, reconstructive surgery, and a total hysterectomy. My family and friends were amazingly supportive. They arranged to bring dinners to my house, watch my kids, and keep me company during my chemo treatments. My daughter was too young to know what was going on, but my 4 year old son was not. I remember one particular time, after chemo, I was throwing up. He asked if I was ok, and I said, "Mommy's fine- I'm sorry, I don't want you to be upset." He proceeded to rub my back and tell me that I had nothing to be sorry for. I was in shock that such a young child could show so much compassion.

Life is full of learning experiences, and I've learned so much during my journey. I've learned not to sweat the small stuff (it doesn't matter), make memories every day (don't wait for an occasion), and never take the promise of time for granted.

Rachel Slosberg
Limerick, PA

I was the girl with the blue hair

When I got diagnosed with breastcancer i August 2007 I decided that I would buy a blue wig to wear when I lost my hair.

I thought that I could at least get a few laughs out of it.

I got one and it got very popular around my neighbourhood.

All the people here knew I got cancer and that I wore a wig, and the ones that did not gave me sweet and kind compliments for my hair..

Now my own hair have grown back, but sometimes people still ask about my blue hair.

Aalborg, Denmark

Incredible doesn't take a break

When I was in fifth grade (I'm in ninth now), my mom sat my 12 year old brother, my 3 year old sister, and 10 year old me down to talk. That's when she told us she had been diagnosed with breastcancer in her right breast. Right then, my world stopped. How could my amazing, spunky, and only 41 year old mom get cancer? I guess she had been wondering the same thing. She and my stepdad assured us through our tears that nothing, absolutely nothing would change. Even now I don't know the specifics about what my mom went through, but she underwent a series of radiation and was put on one medication after the next. Even still, we had a blast together. If she hadn't told us about the cancer, my guess is that we wouldn't have known. We still had parties, still rode bikes, and never even thought about cancelling our family vacation. So many people pulled my brother and me aside and told us to tell our mom we didn't want to go on our vacation so we could let her rest. What we did instead? Ran crying to our mom telling her what they had said. She cried too. Who are they to decide how she should spend her time? "no matter what," she said, "we are going on that trip!"

I guess what I'm saying is that my mom didn't let cancer change who she is. There were rough spots (when she was on tomoxafin), but we got through it because we didn't listen to other people's ideas on how to run our family. I love her so much. Excuse the cliche, but I don't know what I would do without her.

Farmington hills, MI

The Journey

My Mom came by for a visit so she could see her pride and joys, her grandkids. While were sitting on the couch she starts to talk to me about a doctors visit so I said "Mom, are you trying to tell me that you have breast cancer?"... She said yes. She had a lumpectomy on her right breast and they removed the tumor, while doing that they tested her lympnodes. Many tested positive. My mom went through chemo and raditation like a trooper. She worked throught the whole thing and never ever let her spirits get low. After 1 year she was cancer free and we celebrated big. I gave her her second grandchild. Our happiness would be challenged when she was told that her cancer had spread to her bones and was treatable but not curable. She was the most incrediblely upbeat, never let it get you down person I knew. Her attitude was everything and I really believe that is what helped her stay strong for so long.

I lost my Mom on Monday, April 20, 2009 after a 4 year battle. The purpose of this story is let you know how important it is to fight every step of the way.. do not lie down and take it. It is the attitude that will keep you and the ones you love strong through all you go through.... It will make it easier to cope with and will put some control back in your hands that you so desprately thought you lost when you hear the words "you have cancer"..

The picture you see is my Mom and I at the Making Strides breast cancer walk in Boston, MA. I will miss her dearly

Wendy Gagnon
Tewksbury, MA

Someone up there is looking after me!!

In December 2008 I found a lump in my right breast and, always telling people to see their doctor straight away, I thought I'd better take my own advice and so went to see my General Practitioner the next day. She thought it was suspicious and five days later I was seen at my local hospital. A mammogram revealed nothing in my case but an ultrasound examination showed up a very early cancer which couldn't be felt on examination and in January I had it removed by wide local excision and also underwent sentinel node biopsy. This was followed by eighteen sessions of radiotherapy and I'm now back to normal and feeling great.

The irony is that the 'lump' I'd found at first turned out to be nothing suspicious but, if I hadn't gone to the doctor about that, the cancer wouldn't have been found for who knows how much longer and the outcome could have been so different!!

Amersham, United Kingdom
Mystic Rose Tunic
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