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Fight like a Mother

I was a 33 year old single mom with a 5 and 8 year old. I was in the midst of rebuilding my life so I could truly enjoy life with my children. Busier than ever, I finally found myself on my obgyn’s exam table where I heard the words “You have a lump right here" and that’s when I knew my own battle with cancer was here whether I was ready or not.

I was diagnosed on December 8, 2014 with Triple Negative Breast Cancer. I realized how much I did not know about cancer. I learned that TNBC accounts for 10-15% of all types of Breast Cancer. My doctors suspected that I had a gene mutation due to my extensive family history with cancer and had me tested. I moved forward with a bilateral mastectomy. A few weeks later, my gene testing results confirmed I have the BRCA 1 gene mutation which means I have been at an significantly increased risk of Breast and Ovarian cancer… it also means my children may have inherited it.

I’ve endured 5 surgeries, my lung collapsed twice, 3 blood transfusions, a blood clot, 16 rounds of chemotherapy and 28 days of radiation. I’ve lost body hair, toenails, and skin, had mouth sores, neuropathy, chemopause and more. Next, I’ll have a prophylactic hysterectomy but as long as I’m alive, it’s all worth it.

It would have been impossible to come this far without love and support from my family and friends. I’ve been blessed with prayers, meals, clean laundry, rides to appointments, childcare and more. Words of encouragement continue to flood in from near and far.

I share all of this to remind you that fighting cancer isn’t pretty, it isn’t easy, and it cannot be done alone. We need a cure. We need to spread awareness & educate. We need to fundraise for research and to provide services to those battling. Let’s honor and remember those who have bravely fought for their lives and let’s fight for a cure for those who are in the fight of their life.

Diana Price
Hollister, CA

2nd opinion can lead to early detection!

My breast cancer story began in March 2015 with an abnormal finding on my routine annual mammogram. Three days later I was having an ultra sound. The radiologist could see something, but suggested I return in 3 months for a follow up ultra sound to see if this was a quick changer. My husband and I did not like those words and the next day my husband had arranged a 2nd opinion appointment at another larger facility in downtown Chicago. After an appointment with a surgeon, more mammograms, another ultra sound & numerous core needle biopsies I was told on 4/29 that I have Invasive Ductal Carcinoma. With all the ultra sounds and needle biopsies I’ve had the past 10 years, there was no doubt in my mind that my first course of treatment would be a double mastectomy. I want the cancer out of my body asap. I was schedule for skin & nipple sparing surgery on 5/26. My cancer is Stage 2A and is ER+, PR+ & HER2+ and no lymph node involvement. I began chemo therapy, Taxol & Herceptin on 7/27. Fast forward 12 weeks and I had my last chemo 10/14. I will continue with Herceptin treatments once every 3 weeks until July 2016 and will have my reconstruction surgery in Feb. 2016. The stress in the early weeks, waiting to hear the news is almost unbearable. I do not wish that stress on anyone! My husband has been amazing and I couldn’t have survived those weeks without him & his support. Also my family and friends have been a great support during recovery from surgery and my chemo treatments! No one should go through this alone! My recovery is still not over and my life is far from normal, but I am cancer free! I am a breast cancer survivor! I had been diagnosed and had my surgery before the "come back in 3 months" suggestion from the first facility. Early detection and a 2nd opinion is very important.

Gerie Meier
Spring Grove, IL

Winning!

"It's not whether you win or lose, it's how you play the game,"

I'm here to tell you, whatever life throws at you (and it my case, it has been breast cancer at age 41) be sure to take everything by the horns and do it your way. Be determined to live life your way, as much as it is possible. Misery will come, but suffering to a certain degree is optional. With God, my family and friends, I have more things to be blessed about than cancer could ever take from me.

Jennifer Claudy
Hudson, IN

Last day of chemo 10/5/2015

Early detection saved my life! I have never missed a mammogram since turning 40 and my April 1 mammogram was my first time using the 3D machine. On April 23 I was diagnosed with Stage 1 Invasive Ductal Carcinoma. June 18 I had a lumpectomy followed by four rounds of chemo. October 5 was my last chemo! I begin radiation in in mid-November and by January, cancer will be in my rear view mirror. My loving husband, Rob has been with me every step of the way. We've only been married a year and did not expect "in sickness..." to be tested so soon, but we are stronger than ever.

Hollie Coates-Seamster
Puyallup, WA

42 & HER2+

I had my first mammogram at age 40. I had no family history of cancer but I did what my Dr. Told me to do. On my 3rd mammogram at age 42 they thought they saw something. They did an ultra sound and determined it "probably wasn't cancer and I had dense breasts." I was asked to come back in 6 months. In 6 months what probably wasn't cancer was now 3.4cm. I didn't even know it was there. Yet there it was...you could easily feel it...if you were looking. But I wasn't bcs " it probably wasn't cancer" and I had no history. The day they found it I almost left and rescheduled bcs the Dr. was backed up and I was busy at work. I would be dead had I done that. I was diagnosed with Stage 2A invasive ductal carcinoma HER2+. I was told it was aggressive and I needed chemo and a mastectomy right away. The first Dr. I went to made me feel like I would die. Then I went to Duke. They gave me hope and told me I was a survivor. I just finished 6 chemos, had reconstructive surgery and will continue with Herceptin until April 2015. I will survive and thrive! My attitude is cancer only takes what you let it take. I have gained much more than I have lost. I'm stronger than I ever knew I could be. I proudly wear my bald head everywhere I go. If just one person looks at me and gets a mammogram it's enough. My fellow survivors ...they are looking TO us not at us. Give them the message...cancer doesn't care who you are. Fight on!

Kelly Bergenstock
Kill Devil Hills, NC

The Diary of A 22 Year Old

In February of 2015, I was diagnosed with stage IV metastatic breast cancer. I had just turned 22 years old. Attending college, working, and engaged to my high school sweetheart. The cancer spread to my lymph nodes, chest bones, and hip bone.

Losing my hair was one of the hardest things for me. Just like any other young woman, my hair has become my identity. I hid behind my hair. How my hair was that day, was how I felt that day. I felt like I completely lost myself when I lost my hair.

I had to learn that I am not my hair.. I am not all my scars.. I am beautiful, with or without these things!

June 10th was my last session. My hair began growing. I went back to college and work. I felt my life pulling back together.

September 8th I had a lumpectomy and several lymph nodes removed. A week after the surgery, I was told that the cancer was not gone, and that I had to go back onto chemotherapy. I felt like all that I worked so hard for, was gone..

October 1st will be my first day back on chemotherapy. Go figure, for breast cancer awareness month! I've come to realize struggles make us stronger. I have to stick through the fight. When life knocks me down, I have to get back up and fight back. I may have cancer, but cancer doesn't have me.

Elizabeth Buck
Plano, IL

My Mum's Battle

I would just like to show you how far my mum has come in 2 years! She was diagnosed with stage 3 invasive ductal carcinoma in 2013. She underwent months of grueling chemotherapy, a lumpectomy, lymph node removal, a double mastectomy and recently a breast reconstruction.

She has done us all so proud at how she has dealt with her battle and she remained so positive throughout. Thankfully, she kicked cancers bum and she looks absolutely fantastic. She gives hope for other people suffering this horrible disease that we can beat it!

Not only is she the bravest, most amazing woman ever but she's also pretty talented too! She wrote a poem that I would like to share about chemotherapy which I'm sure lots of people can relate to...

Well done Mum, you really are one in a million.....

My Chemo Friend

Protected from light

A bag, plastic and red

Hanging there menacingly

Above my head

A cannula gently

Introduced in my vein

Overwhelming anticipation

But I was in no pain

The clock was set

I started my fight

With a determined heart

With all my might

I watched the first drops

I dreaded what would come

Your reputation

Was fearsome

You made me sick

You took my hair

You sapped my strength

Till I was barely there

My brain was fogged

Confused and slow

Incapable of thought

Of why or how

I struggled with all

You did to me

It was a long, hard road

To be cancer-free

It was worth it though

I got there in the end

Thanks for everything

My chemo friend

Written by Elaine Tracey

steph arrand
Doncaster, United Kingdom

Chemo Day One

First Chemo done and dusted (11th Sept '15)...I'm doing ok so far.....Found the lump in my right breast 05-05-15..Got told it was Cancer 16th June.. Grade 2 60mm invasive ductal & lobular...Oestrogen & Progesterone positive and HER2 negative...Had a lumpectomy 29th June but didn't get clear margins and 2 nodes involved..So on 3rd August had right mastectomy and full clearance of nodes ..all clear....So now I have 6 months of chemo and 5 weeks of radiation ahead of me...I'm staying positive.. :)

Sandy Matthews
Maryborough, Australia

In Loving Memory of Betty Lynn Malone

In Sept of 2000, my sister, Betty Lynn Malone went to the ER on three different occasions each time complaining about shoulder pain. Each time no tests were run and she was released with the dr saying that she had pulled a muscle due to playing softball. On the fourth visit to the ER my mother went with, this time demanding that they admit her. They did and one week later she was diagnosed with breast cancer. I remember that day so vividly because I was the one crying not her. She said to me, "don't cry I am going to be ok. I am going to fight it." One week later on September 16, 2000 she passed away. She was only 40 years old , a mother of two young boys. I just want all women to know if you have any kind of pain please get it checked out asap. And for those who are fighting this ugly disease I am praying for you. Today my Sister has been gone 15 years. She was our heart and soul and she continues to be. I love you Lindy...

kelly paulsen
Niles, IL

Nothing to worry about...

I was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer in April of this year, after being told by both my gyno and primary doctor that the lump I felt was nothing to worry about, "just hormonal changes probably". Thankfully God was taking care of me and I pushed for a mammogram. As shocking it was to hear the words, "you have invasive ductal carcinoma", it was even scarier to think it could have gone untreated for who knows how long. A great reminder that we must take control of our own health and not leave it in the hands of someone else, doctors are human too and they make mistakes.

On September 9, 2015 I finished my last round of chemo with my amazing hubby and sweet babies by my side!! I have a bilateral mastectomy in the next month and 6 weeks of radiation ahead of me, but with a support system that has been beyond wonderful and my heavenly father in control, I will keep fighting and eventually show this stupid cancer not to mess with me anymore! I may have cancer, but it doesn't have me!!

Carli Stockton
Woodstock, GA
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