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I am surviving the survival of breast cancer

1 year after a "clean" mamogram I learned I had 3 types of breast cancer. A double mastectomy, the cancer had spread. So, 7 months of chemo and 3 months radiation. The strength that I had seems surreal then and now. 6 surgeries since March 15, 2006 to today March 23, 2009. This disease has taken a toll on my financial pocket. All my medical bills paid in full... with the exception of the deductibles of my last surgery - November 17, 2008. I have asked for payment plans from everyone. I am the rock of support to my family and friends.

A mortgage officer, past 2 years business is thin. All financial resourses--exhausted. Always the one to lend money. So close to decent income ... But close will not cover my expenses next month.

It just doesn't seem fair, to survive with dignity the treatments of breast cancer... and halted... when you believe... it is all behind you. I do not yet have a "clean" bill of health. I feel though, It may be behind me. The radiation was too much .. and it continues to visit my body. I have several side effects from the chemo....

So... here I am wanting to pat myself on the back... and wondering if next month.. I will be able to keep the shirt on it!

Leslie Garber
Washington, DC

Breast cancer is a sisterhood

I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2005. I was taken totally by surprise because I had only 1 relative with breast cancer, I don't drink or smoke, and I breast-fed 3 babies. Luckily, I was referred to 3 outstanding doctors: my oncologist, surgeon, and plastic surgeon. I also had a wonderful support group who believe in the power of prayer. Not only did my Christian family and friends pray, but a Jewish friend prayed, and a mass was said in my name in Catherine, Italy. After having chemotherapy and a mastectomy, I am in remission. I take Evista every day and don't see my oncologist again until this summer.

Breast cancer is a sisterhood that you don't necessarily want to be a part of, but I'm happy to say that even though the membership is growing, our longivity is also growing thanks to good doctors, research, and the good Lord.

Beckie Taulbee
Las Cruces, NM

My winning battle

In December 1992, at the age of 55, my gynecologist discovered a lump in my right breast. I had had a mammography in August but it hadn't shown up. I went through the entire slash-poison-burn routine which certainly saved my life even if it was somewhat torturous. With the exception of 2 weeks after my lymph node disection, I continued to work through all my treatments.. I had extraordinary support from my son, my sister, my co workers and my friends and the most incredible doctors who were always available for my questions and for caring. I joined a SHARE support group where I met a woman who has become like a member of my family. Out of the darkest of days came something special.

Ethel Schwartz Bock
New York, NY

It's a Family Affair

When I was a little girl, we'd go to north Texas to visit our grandparents. Big Daddy and Big Mama shared their home with Grannie Dearmore, Big Mama's mother. I noticed that both Grannie and Big Mama had only one breast, so in my infinite 4-year-old wisdom I believed that at a certain age one of them fell off!

I shortly learned the truth, but wasn't prepared for the devastation that breast cancer would continue to bring my family. At age 36, my sister and only sibling had bilateral mastectomy--losing both breasts to cancer. My mother was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer, and died at age 74.

I have had genetic testing, which shows that I don't have a gene mutation.

However, breast cancer is definitely an ugly reality in our family. So, for the sake of my daughter and granddaughter, I work diligently with all available groups to develop prevention methods, increase early detection, and find better, quicker and less invasive treatments.

My biggest dream is to stomp out breast cancer in my lifetime!

Deann Owen Lewis
Crescent, OK

Be an Angel for someone

I was diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer in July of 1999. While I was going through treatment I was encouraged by words of hope and encouragement spoken to me by complete strangers who had walked the same path. Those "chance" meetings meant a lot to me and kept me focused on getting well. I always thought of these women as "angels" of hope.

Yesterday I met a woman at a motorcycle event for autism who had on a Breast Cancer pink ribbon dew-rag and also a Ford Motor Company Warriors in Pink (I think that's what it's called) scarf around her neck. So I asked her if she was a survivor.

She said, "No, but my mom and her sister are, well, her sister is, my mom passed away." Then she showed me a beautiful necklace that she had made with her mom's engagement diamond (marquis cut and large) set so that it was suspended from a pink ribbon charm.

She then went on to share that both ladies were 40 when they were diagnosed and that her aunt is a 17 yr. survivor. She said that she is scared and keeps checking herself daily practically and dreading when she turns 40 in a couple of years.

Later, when I was going over the encounter in my mind, I thought of all the things I could've said to her about advances in treatment etc. and was thinking that I hadn't "done" enough to make her feel better but then I realized that I had said the perfect thing for her to hear and that, in a way I was an angel for her.

What I said was, "That isn't neccessarily so, remember, you have your dad's genes as well."

Marathon, FL

The otherside of the coin

In May 1999 my wife & i were given thoese awful words. We then went through the hell of the treatment that we all know too well,the hair loss, which hert me very much as well as Carol. We got each other through it all as we had done the past 31 yrs of ups & downs, TOGETHER . On the 8th April 2000 @ 11.45am i lost the love of my life to breast cancer. I have now got used to life without Carol although we will never be apart and i talk with her every night. So come on all you men out there chin up your ladies need you! I will give the breast cancer site my full support for as long i am able too.

Yours in support

Brian Williams

Brian Williams
Havant, United Kingdom

Self Breast Exams Work!

I'm a TEN YEAR Breast Cancer Survivor because I found my tumor myself. I was having Mammograms every 6 mo. on the advice of my Dr. & had a clean one in JUNE, 1998. At the time of our only daughter's wedding in Sept. I discovered a lump in my right breast. After the great weekend of celebration I went to my Dr. She said she hadn't felt it in June & that the Mammogram hadn't shown one. So,I had another Mammogram THAT DAY & it was CLEAR/FINE/POSITIVE!! But the lump was there & felt quite big!! SO I had an Ultra Sound & IT WAS SEEN, of course! From there I was sent

to a Surgeon who biopsied it & a week later I was told I had stage II Breast Cancer. My husband & I were then VERY QUICKLY meeting with an Oncologist, Radiologist, & Surgeons to consider different treatment options. I was advised to have a Lumpectomy with the "NEW" Sentinel Node Biopsy that was then being used @ Moffit Cancer Center in Tampa, FL. That is what I chose to do. The results of the node biopsy came back that the nodes had been invaded, so I had to return for the removal of ALL nodes under my right arm. I firmly believe that my Oncologist saved my life with the 8 Hellish Chemo treatments I took losing "EVERY" hair on my body. Following that I had 32 Radiation treatments, which seemed like a "Cake Walk" after Chemo!!

I have great faith & believe in the power of prayer & a positive attitude!! I always believed from the moment of hearing my diagnosis that "I WOULD

LIVE" & was not going to die! Praise God!! By the way, My New Grown-in White Hair is now RED!

Judy Eggerling
Odessa, FL

My Story

I found the lump during a self-exam in June, 2007, right before my 40th birthday. After a mammogram, ultra sound and lumpectomy, it was confirmed in July that I had Stage I invasive ductal carcinoma. Luckily it did not spread to lymph nodes or other organs. I had a partial mastectomy with chemo, radiation and Herception treatments to follow. I have been very blessed with the support of my family. My 14 year old daughter made me homemade chicken soup to make sure I was eating during my chemo treatments and gave me friendly reminders about taking my meds prior to treatments. She was my nurse maid. My brother, who had hair longer than mine (down to his waist), shaved my head when my hair started falling out and then had me shave his!! He said we were in this together all the way! My mom and sister-in-law went to every treatment with me. My son and daughter-in-law were always giving me moral support and encouragement. I am now on Tamoxifen for the next 5 years and have been cancer free for almost 2 years!

My message for everyone: do regular self-exams and get mammograms. I wasn't supposed to start mammograms for almost another year. It would have been too late for me had I not done a self-exam.

Wellington, OH

Guess I'm one of the lucky ones

July 18th 2006, while in the shower, I felt a large (about the size of a walnut) lump in my left breast. I often wonder how I could have NOT felt it beforehand, but I didn't. (I had, had my mammogram in 2004, but skipped it in 2005...)

A week later I had a needle biopsy. Everyone, including the surgeon, said that I didn't have cancer; that it was just a cyst. I believed them in the end. Then the fateful day came; August 8th when the doctor told me I had "Mucinous Carcinoma". The lump was so large; I had the choice of "waiting it out with treatments", or a mastectomy. I opted for the latter out of fear. I asked everyone I knew and those I didn't know to pray for me. I was terrified; not knowing if I was living or dying.

It wasn't until I came to, after the surgery, did I find out that "they got it all". It wasn't in my lymph nodes or elsewhere. I closed my eyes and thanked all the angels here on earth and up above.

This type of breast cancer they say, accounts for no more than 3% of all breast cancer diagnoses, and occurs more frequently in women in their 60's. I was 47 at the time.

If I had to ask God for cancer; this was the best one to ask for...(The doctor told me this the day of my diagnosis).

Guess I'm one of the lucky ones. And yes, I am blessed!!!

San Diego, CA

I'm So Blessed!!

In September 2003, I had my routine mammogram. When I received my letter telling me the results, it was suggested that I have a diagnostic mammogram, ultrasound, and possibly a biopsy done on my left breast. While the technician was doing the ultrasound, a radiologist entered the room to do the biopsy. Before prepping me for the biopsy, he introduced himself and then said to me, "We are looking at cancer here". I was completely shocked. He then did a core biopsy and told me he would send the report to my doctor in order to get a referral for surgery. I thought that surely he was wrong, afterall, he had only seen the mammogram and the ultrasound. I just thought how unprofessional he was to tell me that before getting a pathology report and sending it to my doctor to tell me the results. I guess he had seen enough to know, because it was cancer.

I came home after seeing my doctor and having him tell me that it was indeed cancer. The night before my surgery, I went out on our deck after my husband went to bed and cried and prayed. I finally came inside and crept into bed. My husband hugged me and started praying aloud. I knew the moment he started praying that I would be ok. I had surgery in late September that year. I was very lucky. I had a lumpectomy and all the lymph nodes taken from under my left arm. The cancer was a stage 2-hormone receptive cancer. I had 35 radiation treatments, 3 years of Tamoxofin and still take Femara. I did a stereotactic byopsy 2 years ago due to some microcalifications, but all was fine. God has blessed me so, yet the fear of recurrence is always there.

Nancy Cumbee
Salem, SC
Blown-Glass Plant Watering Globe
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