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At the age of 49, I was performing in a local production of "Nunsense" as Mother Superior - lots of singing and dancing. One day following a performance I felt very sore at my right upper chest wall - closer to the shoulder than breast, I thought. There was a small knot. I thought I had just pulled something, but after a couple of days of soreness I called my doctor who arranged for a mammogram and sonogram. Two days later I was in for a core biopsy of two tumors in the same breast - the one at the upper chest wall and another one deep under the nipple that I would have never found with self-examination.

Two completely separate cancers were diagnosed and I was told I needed to have immediate surgery. My only option was a mastectomy because of the size of the tumors. The sentinel node procedure was relatively new, and my surgeon had done many, but the cancer was so aggressive they felt it had already progressed past the lymph nodes and I would require further surgery.

I remember crying on my way home, not sure how I would tell my husband. But then I said to myself, "Why not me?" It was the last time I would cry about anything for the next five years. I was determined I would get through it with strength and grace, and although it was the most difficult time in my life, I never once entertained the thought that the cancer had progressed. Following surgery, my doctors were amazed and thrilled to tell me that the cancer had not spread. I had both chemo and radiation and it's been almost 10 years now. I am still cancer free.

Marilyn Kittelson
Dallas, TX

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