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My Cancer Survivor Story : )

I found a tiny lump on my left breast, after two mammograms, a sonogram with an awesome surgeon, and a lumpectomy, I was diagnosed with Stage III Breast Cancer on March 5, 2007. I chose to have a double mastectomy although the cancer was only in the left breast. I had three types of cancer and an over 5 cm tumor very close to the chest wall. Two of ten lymphnodes were matastisized.

I had four rounds of Adriamycin/Cytoxin chemotherapy, 12 rounds of Taxol chemotherapy, then 33 radiation treatments. I am taking Tamoxifen and will be until 2013.

I finished my treatment November 30, 2007. I have had two follow up appointments and my tumor marker has lowered each time. I go again in June, 2009.

I am very blessed with an amazing supportive family who took excellent care of me during my treatment. My faith in God and belief that his will be done also kept me quite strong.

I met some absolutely incredible people during my journey and though it sucked, I know I have grown into a better, stronger, more loving individual because of it.

Years ago people did not survive breast cancer. How awesome to have this disease in a time when medical advances can save your life.

Wow, I feel blessed.

May God bless all of you.

Lori Madden
Wichita Falls, TX

Self Exam Pays Off

About 2 yrs ago, I did a self exam, and discovered a discharge from my rt nipplle. I went to the Dr, and he opted to check it out in surgery. He corrected the discharge problem, and did a biopsy, The path report came back showing Ductile Carcinoma Insitu (a pre cancer condidion) However, the margins of the specimen were not clear. He went back in, and that report also came back with unclear margins. Rather than face repeated biopsies, I opted to have a mastectomy. The reeport came back on that and the pathologist said that was the only way we could have got it all. I just thank the Lord for the early discovery, and continue to have regular mamograms to make sure that the left breast is healthy.

Merideth L Berkovich
The Dalles, OR

Base Line Mamogram Saved me

I had my baseline mammogram the end of May in 1991, right before Memorial Day. I received a call from my doctor a couple of days later to have a biopsy, my mammogram looked suspicious on my left breast, I had my biopsy and was diagnosed with breast cancer on June 7th, 1991 right after my 40th birthday. I had a mastectomy on June 21st. and went through 8 rounds of chemotherapy, as of today I have been cancer free for close to 18 years. Do not put off your Mammogram it is probably the easiest life saving test you'll ever have take.

Paula Bibbs
Glendale Hts., IL

My Hiccup in Life

Not everything you preceive is bad turns out that way. I found my lump on October 1, 2007. It was the size of a pea. There is no breast cancer in my family, but I had it checked. I had a biopsy (which was awful). It was cancer. I had a mastectomy a week later and the tumor had gone from a size 3 to a 9 and all but 2 nodes. It was a fraction of an inch from my chest wall. So I did 8 rounds of chemo and 33 radiations. I only missed 3 days of work. The day of my mastectomy, 1/2 day the day after my surgery and one Saturday that my husband insisted I stay home.

The reason I was able to go through all this was because of ALL the support from my wonerful family and loving friends. I am now cancer free! It was a year of fears, tears, and many cheers.

Kerrie - age 49

Kerrie
Anaconda, MT

My Daughter-In-Law

Cancer is cancer whether it is breast cancer or some other form of cancer any one can be inflicted with the disease.

What hit home for me is my daughter-in-law who is now a cancer survivor. A divorced mother with a small daughter has proven to me what a real fighter is. I'm not sure of what form of cancer she had because I never asked but cancer is cancer and without cancer centers to assist what would happen to so many who are afflicted with the disease. It didn't hit home with her until she lost her hair (while undergoing chemo) when she realize my hair is going down the drain. That took a real toll on her but only for a brief time because she realized she was not alone and not the first person this had happened too. Being a strong person she held on to her faith grabbed herself by the ankle and kept it moving.

My daughter-in-law has a remarkable faith in God and it has truly help to deal with cancer. For chemo treatments she would drive back and forth from Dallas to Ft. Worth because Dallas did not have a chemo treatment center sometimes alone and sometime with a friend, but she keep the faith and moved forward every day. To me she is an extraordinary woman who never who never lost sight of today and the tomorrows to come.

We stay in very close contact and for her I am a believer in cancer survivors. To assist the drive I am launching a penny drive with all my email buddies for the "Susan G. Coleman" drive this year.

I encourage anyone who reads this to do whatever they can to raise funds and donate in honor of a loved one or friend.

Rosa Harrison
Washington, DC

self exams work

I was diagnosed in July of 2005 less than 90 days after a clean mammogram. I found my lump on the eve of the 4th of July. After 2 lumpectomy surgeries, 8 chemo treatments and 7 weeks of radiation I am closing in on being a 4 year survivor. It was one of the most trying times of my life but it really showed me that I am much tougher than I thought. I could not have done any of it however, without the love and support of my husband, children, parents, extended family and oodles and oodles of dear friends and neighbors. It took a village and I still feel so blessed.

Trisha Hallstrom
Salt Lake City, UT

The Importance of Physical, Loving Support

In spite of regular mammograms (the last had been in May, 2007) in November of 2007 I was shocked to be given a diagnosis of Stage-3 breast cancer. Adding to the trauma, my husband of fifty-four years had died little more than a year prior to my cancer diagnosis. At age seventy five I was still trying to find equilibrium and make sense out of my new role, living life alone.

A modified mastectomy was done mid-November. Nine lymph nodes were removed, all testing positive for cancer. I remained in a daze through surgery, scans, preparation for chemo, then some chemo which I was unable to tolerate. Then later I was given thirty- two computer assisted radiation treatments. My medical team of mostly compassionate and caring individuals made the experiences doable.

These several months later,I am thought to be cancer-free. In reprospect, I could not have survived any of the past year without the physical and prayerful support of my family and friends. My church made arrangements for transportation to all the radiation treatments and many of my medical appointments.

Living alone with life-threatening illness is difficult and sometimes terrifying. My husband dealt with pancreatic cancer for one year before it took his life. He remained at home under hospice care. However, it was my daily ministrations, food preparation and support that helped him cope and get through those months and weeks with for the most part, a satisfactory quality of life. Individuals going through serious illness are so fortunate and blessed when they have the support and care of a loving spouse.

Nelia Greer
Fountain Hills, AZ

Pati's journey

My story started in September 2007. One day I noticed that my left breast was not the same as my right one. The right one was a typical, 51 year old, nursed 3 kids, a little saggy, breast. The left one was starting to become firm again! I had just had 2 mammograms and a well visit to my GYN, so I really didn't think it was breast cancer. Perhaps a clogged duct, something like that. Well... I waited till the end of Sept., the 25th to be exact, when I had a physical already scheduled. By then it was even more firm in the area down near the areola. I showed my Dr. and said, "do you think I need an ultrasound?" He said,"Yes." and that is when my nightmare began.

I went for my ultrasound, which was deemed "suspicious", so I then had to have a breast MRI, which ultimately led to me going to see a surgeon for a biopsis. It was determined that I had stage 2 or 3 (couldn't tell) invasive breast cancer and an agressive treament was needed. I went thru chemotherapy first, because of the size, then I opted for a bilateral mastectomy (28 nodes removed, only first 3 effected) and finally radiation. I then had a Lattisimus dorsi flap surgery performed for reconstruction purposes and soon I will have the final surgery where my expanders are removed and gel implants are put in.

I want to say my surgeon said that "knowing what he knew now, he went back and looked at all my past mammos and saw the cancer as far back as 2 years ago."

I am doing fine now, cancer free, still trying to correct some of chemo's side effects but feeling very good! Breast self-exams are so important.

Pati Schembari
Montrose, NY

My Breast Cancer's Influence on My Daughter

My story began in July 2000, a few short months after the first photo ("Then") was taken of my daughter and me. She was only 10 years old when I was diagnosed with Stage 2 breast cancer involving one of my lymph nodes. I picked up a pamphlet about how to tell your children you have cancer. The pamphlet, intended to encourage me, reported that children are very resilient to the news -- that is, except for adolescent girls. This was good news where my 4 year old son was concerned; not good news for my daughter. Knowing this was the case, I paid much closer attention to how I presented updates to her. We were not allowed to use the "C" word, until the day she insisted on going with me to help pick out my wig and the lady at the shop asked me what kind of cancer I had. It was harsh, but made me realize I could not shelter my daughter. Her personal make-up is so shaped by that period of her childhood, and shaped in a good way. In high school she helped organize and participated in cancer fund-raising events, graduated with honors, and received academic scholarships. "Then" was nearly 9 years ago and "now" my daughter is a freshman in college, majoring in psychology with hopes of one day working with children who are affected by serious illness or disorders that could affect them later in life. While we both worry about the possibility of breast cancer in her future, I try to focus on the positive and know that there are children out there who will one day benefit from the help of someone who had a very life-changing experience in her own childhood.

Bonnie Sohngen
Cincinnati, OH

Survivor 2+ months and counting

My annual exam was Jan.7th, 2009 with a Mammogram on the 8th. With-in 12 days I was back for a higher tech mammo, ultra sound and to my surprise, a biopsy. In one more week, we were meeting with my surgeon for results and a consult. 80% of the lumps are just lumps. Mine showed a malignancy. Our HMO does not mess around. Surgery was scheduled, "just in case." They encouraged me to seek a second opinion if there were any doubts.

For my age, (63) the two recommendations were lumpectomy with 5 weeks of radiation or mastectomy. My right breast was already considerably smaller than the left. Lumpectomy would have made the size difference worse. Mastectomy with a possible reconstruction down the road was the right choice for me. Arimidex, a hormone blocker, is recommended too.

The mastectomy was done on Feb.10th. For pain control, my surgeon used a pump device called ON-Q. It is a drip system that numbs the incision. My recovery was easy and pretty much pain free. Not having to work really helped. How in the world do young women with children do it?

If you are lucky like me and have the support of family and friends, breast cancer can be reduced to just one more bump in the road. Early detection is very important! If I had skipped my annual mammogram, my fight would be much more difficult. The lump was "hiding" under my nipple. It was difficult to feel even when shown where it was. My stage one cancer with negative nodes is so much easier to fight than it could have been. Thank heaven for Mammograms. My Doctor expects me to be around to watch our Grand kids grow up. Life is good!

Sheila
Fontana, CA
Flurry of Savings
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