Tuesday, December 8, 2009

"They are your boobs...feel them"


Your story about your young daughter reminds us to not only look at the risk factors for breast cancer, but listen to our own bodies. Breast cancer does not discriminate. Whatever the age, family history, etc. anyone can get this disease. Your daughter sounds like a fighter! What a wonderful example for your whole family.


I never dreamed, in my worst nightmares, that I nor my family would face breast cancer. Then, last summer (2008) my oldest daughter, then 25, told me she had found a lump in one of her breasts. She, of course, told her gynocologist, who said not to worry; she was young, no family history of breast cancer, and she was healthy, had weaned her 1 1/2 year old son recently, and had no risk-factors to be concerned about. Her Dr. told her to "just keep an eye on it" and not worry. Fortunately, my daughter, Ashley, changed doctors within the next month. Her new doctor didn't take the lump, tiny, smaller than a pea, lightly, and sent her directly to the breast center at a local hospital. Ashley called me, concerned, because they did a mammogram and wouldn't let her leave without a biopsy. We both thought they were just being overly precautious.

The breast center called her with the biopsy results when she was at home, alone with her son. She called me immediately, and, of course, the connection was breaking up. I prayed the tears I heard were tears of relief, but all I heard was "its cancer mom". I prayed for the 'not' in there, but it was true. Ashley is the strongest woman I know. She took the bull by the horns, researched, and came up with a game plan. I still couldn't breathe days later when we were walking with her husband and son one evening. She told me, "Mom, this is not a time to be sad. We have to play the hand we have been dealt and win all the chips on the table." I reminded her that, even at 25, she is my baby and I should be allowed to hurt for her. I still hurt for her; however, I revel in her strength.

Ashley's bilateral mastectomy was difficult for me and the rest of our family. When the surgeon told us that the cancer had spread to her sentinal lymph node, her husband and I were desparate to go talk with her; however, the hospital rules said we couldn't. As soon as we were allowed to see her, we ran into the recovery area, expecting to find her devistated. She was smiling, chewing on ice, and happy! Fortunately, the cancer had spread no farther, as we learned days later.

Chemo, shaving her hair (she was awesome, wouldn't even wear her wig or bandanas unless it was cold) then radiation have been very hard on her and me helping her through it. She was put into chemical menopause and will be there for another 4 years. It is so eerie to have your daughter having more menopausal symptoms than I do; I'm 50, she's 26...

Ashely has an awesome husband and even more fantastic son! He looks at a pink ribbon and says "Breast cancer....get out!!" Ashley developed lymphodemia and is dealing with that the way I've come to expect. I truly admire her and anyone else who is dealing with this disease.

As Ashley says.. "They are your boobs.. feel them" Monthly self-breast exams saved her life; but she knows how to fight like a girl!!


Helping other women...


How selfless of you to participate in a clinical trial to help other women, even though you did not need any treatments after your surgery! I applaud you! Together we can find a cure!


Good Morning, I am a 37 year old mother of 3, who was recently diagnosed with multi-focal breast cancer in March of 09. I had been having pain in both breast that was unusual for me, this started in Dec. of 08 and went for my annual in Feb. of 09. The nurse felt for lumps and found nothing but still sent me for a mammogram. I received a call a few days after the mammo with news that they had found a spot close to the chest wall and was to see a surgeon about a biopsy. When I went to see the surgeon she could not feel any lumps either and went ahead with the biopsy. The biopsy came back positive, and we proceeded with a lumpectomy. The lumpectomy came back with unclear margins and I was scheduled for a breast MRI. After the MRI, the surgeon told me that the opposite side would need to be biopsied as well because of a suspicious area. To avoid as much emotional stress as possible I went ahead and decided to have a bilateral mastectomy. This has been the biggest emotional roller coaster that I have ever been on. Just finding out that I had cancer was enough to cripple me emotionally, but I am at the point now that my oncologist is offering participation in a clinical trail. I have found out that I do not have to have chemo, but I have made to agonizing decision to take part in the trial because of my age and because I could help women in the future make these decisions. I have had one treatment and I am already wondering what I have got myself into, but I have to finish the course of treatment to help future generations of women. My heart goes out to any woman facing breast cancer, If we could only find a cure.


"You'll be fine...You are my sister..."


What a story of hope! Your answer to your prayers was such a blessing. Thank you for sharing how God has blessed you in leadership towards creating more awareness for breast cancer.

















My sister, my family...

So glad to hear that your sister is doing well! Knowing your family history for breast cancer is so important! Self exams and yearly mammograms are so critical. Early detection is the best prevention!

> My sister Linda was diagnosed June 15th, 2004, on her 36th wedding
> anniversary with breast cancer. Not exactly the anniversary present she
> expected. Her actual diagnose was "high risk infiltrating lobular
> carcinoma of the left breast". She underwent a modified radical mastectomy
> shortly after her diagnosis, the primary tumor was 4.5 cm and the lymph
> nodes were negative. She received 4 cycles of dose dense AC followed by 4
> cycles of dose dense Taxol which she completed in October of that year.
> She was placed of adjuvant Arimidex, but could not tolerate it, so was
> then placed on Aromasin.
> Linda chose to have an implant put in as soon as her body could tolerate
> it, in the fall of 2005 she underwent surgery for adhesion's on the
> reconstructed breast. Thus far she is doing great, she just celebrated her
> 5 year anniversary of being in remission. The fact that she was diagnosed
> was quite a shock, our maternal grandmother had breast cancer in her 70's
> and we thought that was the end of breast cancer in our family. Then our
> cousin Bev, also on the maternal side of the family was diagnosed with
> breast cancer. Sadly she passed away at the age of 46, it had spread too
> far. We were terrified of Linda's outcome , the odds did not look good.
> But thus far she is doing great and I have my mammogram every year always
> praying that I won't receive the same dreaded news.

Keep a good attitude and don't be afraid...


Congratulations on your survivorship! Thank you for sharing your story with us. Attitude does play a big part on how we handle the cancer experience. I hope also that someday people will ask..."What is cancer?"


Hello, my name is Joyce and in October of this year I was a 5 year survivor.

On October 20, 2004 (my birthday) I was in the hospital biopsy room with the test from hell. (pardon the language, pls).I had had my mammo earlier. If anyone has never seen the table you lay on, when I walked in I said "thanks for the complement guys!!" The hole in that table was a 100 Double D After it was done, nosey me wanted to see what he took. After being called nosey by the sweetest guy, I saw these things that I told him looked like spaghetti with zits. Also asked him, any hints you want to give me - he said no, but we'll call you soon.

The next day, while at work, my phone rang. It was my sweet biopsy guy...he said "I hate to tell you this", and I interrupted (which I normally do) and said "well say goodby and hang up.) He said he was sorry but I had breast cancer. Heck of a b'day present, huh? ( I had just had a "touch and feel" by my work NP and nothing was found). I was floored, but it was behind my nipple - called a shadow. He said he was going to call my OBGYN doctor who's a wonderful guy. It seemed just as I hung up the phone, the Doctor called . He said, "Joyce, I'm really sorry; what can i do for you?" I told him 2 things. 1) to find someone as kind as you- 2) someone who knew what he was doing. He said," I can do that - I'll get back with you."

Well, I called my boss and when I heard his voice, you guessed it - TEARS. Told him I was going home. His knowing what I had been waited for, he wanted me to go to medical. Medical? I wasn't sick, I wanted to go home. He said can you drive? I wonder why people think when ones cries they can't drive. You drive in the rain, right? He said go, but be careful. I called my husband who was on his way to my sister-in-laws to get some dishes for my daughter. He said to go home, that he would come home. I said no, I want to see Anne. She was in stage 4 of ovarian cancer and she was my rock. I learned a lot about chemo, radiation, being sick, all that wonderful stuff from her. I told him to act natural and we would tell her later, I just wanted to sit beside her. A fighter from the get go, she was something else. When we arrived, she was shocked to see me in the middle of a work day. "What are you doing here?" she asks. I said "I'm off for half a day and thought I'd come with Billy and visit with you." So we chatted for a while, I kissed her and said "see ya later." The following Monday I told her and she said not to worry we will fight this together. I said "I know, that's why I came to see you -to pull a little strength from you - hope not to much." She said "you didn't." We said our love ya's and hung up.

I think at that time, the hardest thing to do was to tell my girls. We were scheduled to go to Charlottesville, VA that weekend to see my youngest. Told Billy we would still go - I wasn't dead yet and treat is as any other visit and tell her at some point in time. When I arrived home, there was a call from my GYN guy. I had been scheduled to see my surgeon on Nov. 4th. Well, while visiting her, she was talking about Thanksgiving, etc. and I said that we needed to talk. I said to let's drink a glass of wine before we go to dinner. She looked at her dad and said, uh oh, she's gone crazy. We laughed and then told her. My heart broke for her, but I told her, don't worry, I'm going to do just fine - now let's go eat!! She's a very caring person and I knew she would be ok. We had a good weekend and left the next morning to go to Richmond to tell my oldest daughter. She listened, but didn't know what to say. I told her she wasn't going to get rid of me that easily.

Going on with the daily things in life, my sister-in-law had to go to the hospital. We had talked over the weekend and she was going to have a little surgery. She told me good luck seeing my doctor on the 4th. I told her, I will, if you can do it, so can I. Anne died on the 3rd and visitation was the 4th - the day of my surgeon's appt. Oh well, I said to myself, I'll do this with her in my heart. At the appointment, the first person I met was his NP. One of the most caring, professional person I had ever met. She said,"Joyce we will take care of you, don't give up." Being the way I am, I told her let's get this over. 1st - I'm not in denial - they told me I already have cancer. 2nd - I'm not angry - the cancer will win if I get mad. 3rd - I've already had my pity party of crying for 15mins. 4th - let's meet my Dr. and get going. I guess she thought I was going to be one of her crazy patients!! During November, I was scheduled for a lumpectomy .He found cancer in 2 lymph nodes and wanted to do another to see if there were more of those goobers in there. I said cut the darn thing off, it's so little, i won't miss it!! I'll just lean to the right more !! He was really shocked as I think that's what he wanted to do anyway. Surgery was scheduled for January 2nd 2005. It's a 24 hour stay time - insurance ya know. Of all places to put me, i was on the newborn floor. My youngest daughter called and when we told her what floor i was on, she said "are you going to try to nurse?" What a funny family I have. Here is my schedule for the year:

1. Dr. Desch at the Virginia Cancer Institute in Richmond, VA. - my onocologist. Upon arriving there on my appointment day, I met him (a good looking guy - phew) and his nurses. They showed me around and my 1st chemo treatment was scheduled for Feb. 14th -Valentines Day. (do you see a pattern here? b'day, valentines day - brother, i couldn't wait to see what was going to happen at Easter-!!) I elected to go into the Clinical trials to see if maybe i could help someone. I would do chemo one day, wait 2 wks and go back again. I took 2 different kinds...the 1st 4 treatments were one kind...the last 4 treatments were a different
one. They were trying to see if these two would work together. The nurses were angels...and as I looked around the room, I realized that even with my cancer I was one blessed person. I wanted to take some of these people in my arms and just hold them, to make them not to give up, to keep trying.

2. The hair loss....oh yes.....it happens...my hair was my best asset. Thick, could do anything i wanted to with it...BUT, in the shower, those darn little strands would wrap themselves around my fingers and just laugh. Personally, I didn't think it was funny. (i do have a good imagination!!) Told my husband my hair had to go. He thought I would probably have a breakdown, so here he comes in with a big pot of yellow daises, a NEW SET OF CLIPPERS and the cape. I said you've been waiting for this haven't you? He would clip, stop - are you ok? yes dear - clip - stop - are you ok? I said if you don't finish what you're doing, i'm going to clip you:) Then the little hair pieces that were left, stuck in my pillow, so the next thing to do was shave.
One of my friends told me that I was the only person she knew who could make cancer a shopping experience...so many hats - so much fun to wear..one makes the best out of anything, right ladies?

3. The cardboard taste. YUK, who wanted to eat when it tasted like cardboard? I had a list of tv commercials of food that i wanted to eat after i could taste again. (we hit red lobster about 4 times!)

Let me tell you here, I was not sick at all. I don't know if it was the medicine they gave me(which i'm sure was the biggest part of it) or if I was being blessed for something i didn't know about.

On my last visit with Dr. Desch, he told me I was being scheduled for radiation. I told him no way, that he said I might have to take it, not would....He said, "I want to keep you living for a long time". He was such a doll I couldn't say no. I was wearing a big red hat and took a picture of him with it on. I put it in a frame and gave it to his nurse when I went for a follow-up and met my new onocologist. Dr. Desch had left VCI to go into more clinical and testing stages, and was killed in a plane while he was flying to Albermarle airport near Charlottesville. God took a special person from us that day and I'm glad that he was my doctor. I can still see that smile and that red hat!!

Radiation came next. I was able to do that closer to home in Petersburg. Those nurses were a hoot - one was a Braves groupie (Richmond and Atlanta) and the other would play baseball or soccer (broke her ankle). It took me longer to get there than the treatment took. That lasted for 35 days. The doctor there was a good guy. We still have a bet going on - he said 1 out of 3 women with breast removal usually end up with lymphodema. I told him "I not going to be the 1". Guess what, I'm winning!!!!

To make the end of my treatments special - I was given a really big gift by my youngest daughter - I was told I was going to be a grandma !!!!! Now what else did I need? Was I kept around for that or is something else in my future? Who knows, but I'll roll with it no matter what.

So you see? My life with cancer so far has been easy. People who cared, doctors who knew what they were doing with kindness, meds that worked (I still hope), a God that has protected me (even though I'm not as strong a Christian as I should be), a family that suprised me with more love that I knew existed and most of all- a good attitude. I refuse to let it win.

I see and talk to people who are not as lucky as I, and the guilt comes in. Why me so blessed and not them? But I try now to pay it forward. I heard a lady at VCI tell the receptionist a few months back that she was scared to death - this was her first treatment. I was really unsure what to do-would she get mad if i said something? But, with me, being me - after she sat down, I walked over to her and asked her did I hear her say that she was afraid? She said yes she was. I said as I pointed at my head - it's all in here....keep a good attitude and don't be afraid - they will take care of you. She said thank you so much. Told her I'd try to come back there after my appointment and see how she was doing. I went looking for her and her fella was with her - she pointed to me and said there's that lady I was telling you about. A total stranger made me feel special and not to be afraid - it made my day. I said, "No mam'm, you made mine. Never give up". We talk now on occasion and she's doing fine.

So, that's my story. I know it's too long, but it made me feel good to tell you about it - that i was still around to tell you about it. I've done a Relay for Life in Petersburg once and the Komen for the Cure in Richmond. So many people and that's just around our area. I like to type in little letters and my spelling stinks, but that's a little thing to care about.

I hope someday, people will ask "What's Cancer?". Maybe not in my lifetime, but one day.................

To those who are dealing with cancer - i will place you in my heart, even thought we've not met in real life, but know what it's all about.

To the survivors - remember that you are blessed and never take anything for granted - enjoy the good, deal with what ever happens with a smile

and most of all - it's the attitude ! bless all of you


Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Proud Granddaughter


Your grandmother sounds like a fighter. She's a wonderful example for you and your family. Cancer does seem to change lives and bring us closer together.

God bless,

My Name is Kendra, I am 22 years old.. Im writing this to you to tell you about my grandmother.. a couple of years ago I was told by my grandmother that she had Breast Cancer, at the time the doctors thought the best thing to do was Remove the breast, Thinking that it would be the last we would hear of the cancer we went on with life. Little did we know a couple of months later I got another phone call from my grandmother saying the cancer was back and had spread more. This time the doctors took the other breast and my grandmother did Chemo. After doing all this we thought everything was going to be back to normal. My grandmother went threw alot with the second round and I am so proud of her. Then last year I was ready for the call i got. My Mother and grandmother told me that my Grandma had Cancer yet again, This time in her Lung area. I didnt think I could take anymore. But till this day she is fighting and Im SO PROUD of her. I wouldnt trade anything in the world for what my family has been threw it has bought us together in so many ways. Anyway this is my story

My mastectomies saved my life

This story speaks for itself.

My name is Jeri and I am a 2-time breast cancer survivor. My experience with DCIS starts with having to tell all my friends and family about it. I asked so many questions of my doctors and investigated as much as I could so that when the time came to share with everyone, I would have all the answers. Of course, you never have all the answers. With my friends and family at my side, I had 2 lumpectomys only to still not have a clear margin. My questions not answered. Then after my bilateral MRI, all my questions were still not answered. With a 5% chance of there still being more cancer, I decided to have the masectomy, which in my case may have saved my life. After the surgery, my doctor told me that I did the right thing because they found more cancer. I took it in stride and was out of the hospital after only 2 days. I wanted to get home and get on with my life. My friends and family were there for me to make it through this rough time. Then, 2 years later, another diagnosis of breast cancer in the other breast. No questions asked this time. I had another masectomy because I didn't want to ask any more questions. I wanted to control of my destiny and I would not let this cancer take the best of me. Now, 2 years later, I have helped so many of my friends and their firiends with my knowledge and experience and have showed them that we cannot be afraid. we must take control and beat this thing and not let it get the best of us. Knowledge is power and I pass it on in the hopes that it will help someone make the decision that is best for them.
Sincerly, Jeri

We're allowed to have pity parties!!!

Writing is therapeutic in the journey with cancer. We all have good days and bad days. Pity parties are allowed. This is not an easy disease to fight. We appreciate your authenticity in your story to us.


I was recently diagnosed with breast cancer & had a double mastectomy on September 1st. The pain of reconstruction is above anything I have imagined. I am going through the weekly injections or as I refer to it as my "fill ur up" injections and will be starting my Chemo on Wednesday and then Radiation treatments. Each day I wake up thinking this was just a horrible dream that went on and on.
Acceptance? Denial? Yep, that is my daily battle. Face this full boar, or cry all day. Yep, that has been happening also. Happy one minute that this has been diagnosed early yet, why why why me?? The different feelings are amazing...the other day I wanted to pick up everything in my house and throw it...and I mean throw it through every and all windows in my house.
In the last 18 months I have had a series of bad luck. First of all, I had 3 back surgeries within a year, during that time, our house was burglarized (my brand new car stolen & totaled) and all the priceless family jewelry gone! Then I lost my job & medical insurance. No cobra because in Arizona if you have less than 25 employees you are not required to have it. Seeking private insurance with back problems is disastrous to say the least. I now have insurance with the monthly payment of $1,486.00 and as of November 1st it kicks up to over $1,700. And during all this, I quit smoking. My surgeon instructed me to do so ~ it was hindering my back fusing back together. I feel like a saint here on earth..no smoking and don't drink...okay I do, Coke-a-holic. Now the day the doctors tell me I cannot have my can of Coke every day is when I will go postal!
And then the icing on cake breast cancer. Surely I must be living under the black cloud.
Oh yes, I have all the support, love, understanding and patience from all my family and friends. This is the time in ones life that you know who you can count on and who really is a friend. I have had people call, write, come to the house, send me cards & gifts, bringing me home made soups, ladies walking for me at the cancer walks, offerings of assistance to take me to doctor appointments or just to get out of the house. I am just blown away. With all the support that has been offered to me, why oh why do I feel so completely alone!! The feeling of dispare (did I spell that correctly??) overwhelms me at times...like late at night..when all you have is your thoughts. The silence of it all!
I am sitting here at my very own Pity Party. Saw your ad encouraging women to write to you with their story. My story sucks and frankly I think I need a violin and a box of Kleenex to make this story even more depressing. But I know, that there are other stories that are worse than mine and in fact my story is more like a "big deal" or a "so" type of tale, but nevertheless, I do feel better writing to you. Ooops, did I go over the amount of words that you had asked for?? Sorry if I did, but I have a lot to say and obviously I am not shy about sharing it. I like to write, people seem to think I have a way of saying things even though bad, seem comical.
I do appreciate you taking the time to read this; but I hope it did not bore you. It has been very therapeutic for me. Thank you for letting me vent....it does make me feel better.
You are doing a wonderful job ~ please continue to do so.
B. A.

A Unique Perspective


It is so interesting to hear a cancer diagnosis from your perspective being in the medical field. It is so good to hear that you are doing so well. May you have many years as a survivor ahead of you.


I am a 9 year breast cancer survivor. I was diagnosed at the age of 42, from a routine mammogram. For some reason, I had skipped a year and missed having my mammogram at age 41. I now wonder what that missed mammogram would have shown. I had a non-palpable mass, located way back near the chest wall. Subsequent biopsy showed that it was an early Stage II. I underwent a lumpectomy and had to have all my left axillary lymph nodes removed, as my sentinel node showed 4 positive nodes.

I work as a Radiologic technologist, seeing and helping treat patients with breast, and other cancers, every day. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think that I would be one of those patients, having a port-a-cath inserted for chemo, having a bone scan and muga scan done in Nuclear Medicine to see if my cancer had spread anywhere else. I teach Radiologic technology students and imagine their surprise, when doing their clinical rotations through Radiation Oncology, I insisted that they observe and participate in my care and treatments. Class time became a time for them to learn more about what a cancer patient goes through, from the fatigue to the very itchy “cranial prosthesis” (wig) that I would end up taking off by the end of the day!

I continued to work throughout my treatments, knowing that keeping busy was one of the best medicines I could have. Having a husband and 2 children at home who needed me also was a determining factor to keep on keepin’ on. I would talk with my patients while I was going through my own treatments, sometimes comparing stories with them, encouraging them and sometimes giving them a shoulder to cry on. My current job duties as a breast patient navigator have allowed me to take what could have been an extremely devastating time in my life and turn the experience into a positive.

Would I wish what I went through on anyone else? No! But it was not as bad as it could have been. I worked with a radiologist who was a breast cancer survivor who ended up needing a bone marrow transplant. Another co-worker was not as fortunate with her cancer diagnosis, and after a re-occurrence, suffered from bone metastases and lost her battle. I look at these strong individuals and others and say thank you, I am here and I am doing fine.


Certified BreastPatient Navigator/

Clinical Instructor/Quality/Education

Department of Radiology

Armed for the fight


Debbie sounds like an amazing woman. She is still caring for you because of the impact she had on your life to stress the importance of breast health. Thank you for being so transparent in your story.


This is not a story about a survivor of breast cancer, but more one about a women who endured the disease. Debbie was like a mother to me. I knew her since I was 7 years old when she married my neighbor, a dear friend of our family. Debbie took me in like a daughter and loved me like one. She was diagnosed with breast cancer a few years ago during a routine breast exam. After further tests it was confirmed, she had cancer. Debbie was the mother of 9 and 13 year old children at the time of her diagnosis. An energetic, hard headed, fun-loving, vibrant, hard-working, positive only begins to describe this woman. Her family (which included me) were her life! Like I said, she was like a mother to me-shortly after her diagnosis, she sat me down and asked me about what I was doing to ensure my health, had I had a breast and annual exam? When I told her no, she was upset with me especially since I was in my mid twenties. She insisted that I waste no time at all in making my appointment with my doctor and get checked out. See the thing is she knew about me past and the sexual abuse that I endured for years as a child. She knew the struggles and the fears that I was facing and offered to take me for my exam, she would hold my hand the whole time if I needed her to. She shared with me the importance of getting checked yearly and made me promise to do so. I have to say that it is because of her that I have faced my fears and am now faithful in getting checked annually to fight the fight against breast cancer! Though Debbie’s battle with breast cancer ended a little over a year ago now, she passed on to me the weapons of how to fight for if ever I need to battle, I am prepared and armed for the fight! Thank you, Debbie, You are a life saver! Love, Susie

Dumbfounded and caught off guard


Thank you for sharing your story with us. You remind us the importance of self breast exams. Some tumors grow very quickly. You are courageous to undergo surgery for a bi-lateral mastectomy. You are a survivor!!!


"I have breast cancer!?!."

The words were hard to say for the first time and though some time has passed it's still hard for me to belive that I do, infact have breast cancer. I am a healthy 48 YO woman in Duvall Washington raising my 18 year old son and 16 year old step daughter to be. My eating habits are very healthy, my weight is stable between a size 10-12 all of my life and I have no history of breast cancer in my large family of 50+ aunts, uncles, cousins etc., But somehow, and for some reason unknown to me, I have breast cancer! Why? How? Now what?

All the smiles disappeard one by one, face after face after I told them my not-so-great news. It was shocking. My family, my friends, my co-workers; could not believe the words I had just said to them. They looked at me in disbelief at first; like I was speaking a foreign language they didn't understand. They went into shock next and then fear teared up in their eyes after it finally sunk in. I have breast cancer. They all had the same response and I do, why!?! It's not fair! Is this a bad dream?

Since that day on September 21, 2009 I have accepted my relationship with breast cancer and join many others as we walk forward together in peace to recovery.

I have been diagnosed with Triple Negative Infiltrating Ductile Carcinoma stage 2. I found the tumor on my right breast one day not too long ago; it was just smaller than a ping pong ball. The strange thing about my story is the tumor appeared overnight, one day I didn't have it and the next day it was there, a tumor. After many tests, the radiologist reported the tumor was not visible on the 7 different mamograms they took because my breast tissue was very dense; however it looked as obvious as the moon in the sky in the middle of the screen during an ultrasound. Last week on October 20th I had bi-lateral mastectomy surgery downtown Seattle. Though my left breast did not have cancer, it was my choice to have to have them both removed and reconstructed.

My choice is to live.
To live longer to be with my family.
To live longer to marry my fiance' one day.
To live longer to see my kids graduate from college, have successful careers and one day find the love of their life and get married.
My choice is to live longer so I can give longer.

I am recovering from surgery this week and will take the next steps to recovery and reconstruction over the next several months. I am loved and supported and will recover to help join my sisters to find a cure.

Peace be with you, Shelly

Watching a fighter become a survivor

This story is written so well by Chandra. I know that survivors like this encourge us to be better.

My name is Chandra and I work at Curves in North Carolina. This past Feb. I met a lovely women in our club that had recently been diagnosed with Breast Cancer. Her name is Verna, and she had a sad demeanor when she first disclosed the news with me. I instantly grew a bound with Verna, wanting her to get all the support she needed. I found her to be a strong willed, spiritual and beautiful women. She took cancer by storm! I watched the process of her treatments. When she started to loose her hair, she wore a wig...until one day I said "Verna you do know that you are prettier with that wig off then on" Ever since then she came into our club with high spirits and wig free. She always had a smile on her face, even when the radiation was sucking the life out of her. She was loosing all her fair from her face and her nails were wilting down. BUT Verna NEVER gave up, she came into our club and worked out hard. We were so proud of her. She never gave up on herself. Over the summer Verna had a mastectomy and it was a success. The doctor told her never in his years of practicing has he seen so much cancer in one breast and it NOT be everywhere on her body. Although not deemed "cancer free" officially- the cancer had been removed! She came into her club weeks after the surgery with so much grace and freedom- it made me cry. I have never met a stronger women. She looked cancer right in the face and said " No you will not beat me". She put her faith in God 100% and he never left her side. When Verna was going through her treatments, I would look at her and forget about all my petty problems. She made me want to be a better, stronger and more faithful person. I saw the transformation of cancer inside a strong women, and I will forever be a Breast Cancer Awareness promoter.

Take care & God Bless!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Relay for Life...a way to give back!


Congratulations on being a 6 year survivor! Relay for Life is a wonderful way to give back. As a survivor myself, I also feel the need to give back and create awareness for all kinds of cancer. I hope that your team had a great time at the relay. You are blessed to have so much support from your co-workers. What a blessing that your brother was able to receive a kidney afterall. I wish you many years ahead as a survivor.


In 2003, my brother was dying from a kidney disease and needed a transplant. I tested for him and was found to be a complete match! With much hope in our hearts, we were scheduled for surgery on a Tuesday morning in January. That Wednesday before, the transplant team called me and said I had not had a mammogram that year and would have to have one before surgery. So I rushed up to the hospital, had it and went home to prepare for the transplant. That Friday I received yet another call……they had found cancer. So, I did indeed have surgery, but not what I had planned. I had a partial mastectomy, then six weeks later, radiation treatments for more eight weeks, and finally, SIX YEARS later, I am still cancer free! Even tho I summed this up in a short paragraph, it in no way explains the pain, the heart-break, the worry, and the feelings that one goes thru when you hear that terrible word “cancer”. I am a strong Christian, tho, and I know God has a plan for my life, so I am trying to give back to those who have not been as lucky as I have been. That’s why Relay for Life means so much and I will be walking this year on October 17th in Belton, Texas! I also have 41 of my fellow employees who will be walking with me! Oh, by the way, my brother? Well, that August at 4AM in the morning, we received a call that they had a donor for him and he received his kidney afterall! GOD IS GOOD!!

Friends and Survivors!


Sharing stories of these strong women is an inspiration to us all. We never know what kind of struggles that we might have to deal with in our lives. Cancer makes us dig deep and find out our true character. Your wife was fortunate to have you by her side.


It's always a pleasure reading about survivors. My story is of two close friends that have battled and won. I lost my wife Paulette to this horrid disease, which she fought for 3-1/2 years. Paulette and my two friends, Sue and Rose Marie, are my heroes.

Rose Marie has fought breast and vaginal cancer for many years. Untold number of surgeries and she has not lost the strength to fight. Chemo and radiation are the toughest fights anyone has to endure. She also has other health issues but is there for others at the drop of a hat, always putting them ahead of her problems. Rose Marie is a great friend and widow of my late cousin Jerry.

Sue, a close friend of mine and my late wife has endured additional stress. The day my wife died, October 22, 1998, was Sue's 50th birthday. Not only dealing with the loss of her friend, she also was diagnosed with MS. Sue always joked about what she would get on her 60th. Well, breast cancer is what she got. Sue just finished nearly a year of chemo and radiation and got a clean bill of health. I hope Rose & Sue live long happy lives.

Unfortunately, I have too many friends and relatives that have struggled with cancer. These two women are outstanding examples of people that are always looking to do for others and quietly fight their fight. They truly are heroes.



Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Kindness and love are good medicine!


As a fellow breast cancer survivor myself, I completely agree with you that medicine is not the only important part of treating cancer. The acts of kindness,love, and support that are shown to us also provide healing to our souls. You are blessed to have such a supportive and caring husband walking beside you on this journey. We will be praying for your healing!


April 2009 I was diagnosed with stage three breast cancer. Shock set in immediately after my doctor told me what it was, and what my options were and what he suggested. I am lucky to have a very passionate husband even at our age of 63 and he was with me 100% of the time while we decided what was to be done. I had my right breast removed and several lymph nodes removed with the results of no cancer in the nodes. My doctor was told by my husband that he was to do what ever it took to remove all the cancer and if it meant me loosing my breast, well, he could only play with one at a time and he would rather have me sitting in my chair next to him complaining about it than not there at all. He has cared for me everyday with changing my bandages, bathing me, cooking , cleaning, all of it. I feel my recovery from surgery was faster due to his loving care.
Now the chemo has started and that’s a whole new recovery. The first one was really rough on me but I made it through with my husband making me eat when I didn't want to and making sure I ate what was needed. The second one went a lot easier and the recovery from it was much faster. Being petrified of needles my husband is right there with me when I have to go each week for the blood, for my chemo, for the shot the next day, and making sure that any questions that need to be asked gets an answer. I have four more treatments to go and knowing that he is there with me every step of the way has made it so much easier that the stories I have heard from other people that are there with me.
I was told they have all the cancer, but being that it is Invasive Lobular Carcinoma, they have to give you chemo as it will surly return with it. With the help and love of my husband , being a survivor has been a smoother transition than most I am sure and I am proud to tell anyone. I think sometime that not only the medicine is what helps you survive.

Devoted Sister and Survivor!!!


Thank you so much for sharing your surivor story as well as your sister's. It's hard sometimes to think that cancer is a blessing, but you are right...it teaches us so many things...especially how to live. You are a living legacy of your sister. It sounds like you had a great support system, just like your sister did. May God bless you on your journey with cancer. You are a survivor and an inspiration to us all!!!


My story starts with on a road trip to Calgary with my older sister, it was Oct, 1996. She was twelve years older then me, at the time she was 48, and she was my mom, my sister and my best friend all rolled into one. We had the best time together, we could laugh untill we cried and we always managed to get lost on the road somewhere and have to phone someone to find us. We had a wonderful weekend and on the way home she casually said, I have to go to the hospital tomorrow, I have a syst that the doctors need to remove from my breast...you know that feeling you get in the pit of your stomach when something really bad is going to happen? Thats how I felt. Two years before she had found a lump and the drs said it was just a syst. I think I knew the moment she told me, she was going to die. I cried all night in my husbands arms and he kept saying Breast Cancer is the most cureable cancer there is, she is going to be fine. I went to the hosptial at 6:30 am the next day and I sat with my sister untill she went for her surgery, and I was waiting for her at 9pm that evening when she came out of surgery. The Doctors removed her left Breast, he came into her room and told her that he removed twenty lymphnoids and in his opinion she would have at least a stage III cancer. That day my sister started a courageous battle. We were a team against cancer, but nothing we did changed the outcome. Chemo was so hard on her, from the minute they hooked the IV into her arm she started throwing up and I was right beside her holding the pail and gaging with her, sometimes we could laugh about it most times we just got threw it. Within the year she had two more surgeries on the same side and her cancer matisized to her bones and she died early in 1998. I was her caregiver, I moved into her house and took care of her and yes we both had families but we needed each other. Her death left me angery, and in some ways bitter, extremely lonely and so sad. I started working two jobs and I did that for seven years, untill I was so physically exhausted and sick I had to slow down. I almost removed myself from my own families life. And I have to say I lived with alot of guilt because she was so sick and I couldn't help her. There were many times I used to think I wish I could die because I missed her so much. I was so angery after she died I removed myself from all contact with my other siblings. I had very few friends, not because I'm unlikeable but because I just didn't want to be around anyone. If someone did something I didn't like, I just cut them out of my life and I could do that with no remorse, if you can imagine.

Then on the Labour Day weekend 2008, I was doing my monthly breast exam and I found a lump in my left breast...that same sick feeling, I knew just touching it, it was going to be cancer. Sept 02nd my 48th birthday! I went to my Doctors office and said I think I might have found a lump. And he verified it, and reached under my arm and then said get dressed and come to my office. He told me I would need an emergency mamogram, and he contacted a surgeon for me. It was like walking under water the next day waiting for the mamogram place to call for an appointment. I told the ladies I coffeed with and the amazing thing was, I had coffee with seven women I was the baby of the group, the oldest one being 55, and Everyone of those women had found a lump at one time or another and they all told me their stories and I actually thought maybe it might not be cancer. I got called for my mamogram, the appointment was Sept 04th! I though holy someone must think this is bad. I went for my mamogram at 11am on Sept 04th they never asked me to stay for a biopsy so I took that as a good sign. I went back to work and was in meetings for the rest of the day. At 4pm I went back to my office and there were messages on both my cell and work phone. My Dr's office called and said we are waiting her for you please come right after work, so I called my husband and we went in. The Dr said there is no easy way to say this so I'm just going to tell you. The mass is coming back cancer. I said how can they tell without a biopsy? He said because of the shape, it consistant with a cancer because it has tenticles. My husband was crying, I said ok we need to get this breast off fast! my sister died within fourteen months of being diagnosed, this cancer is going to move fast! I took my husbands hand I couldn't say that it was going to be ok because in my mind if they could spot this on the mamogram and it had tenticles it was huge! And I thought I'm going to die, and in that split second I thought what in hell! I don't want to die! I want to live. That was my first change!
I have to say there must have been an angel on my shoulder, because Sept 04th I was diagnosed, Sept 09th I met my surgeon, and was told it would be up to 3 month wait to get the next tests I need to have done before surgery. I was back in my Surgeon's office by Sept 15th all tests complete! My surgery was scheduled for Oct 09th and I had a full mastecomy of my left breast. It all happened so very fast! I have three daughters, and I was so scared but I couldn't let them know how scared I was, I needed them to know that I was really ok with everything. My youngest daughter came to me with forms for the CIBC Run for a Cure and asked me to walk with her for this fundraiser. Of course I agreed right away and then we planned a fundraiser for Oct 03rd the night before the run. We had a Bye Bye Boobie Party, and I invited seventy ladies to a little hall had appetizers and we sang songs, read poems and told dirty jokes. We wore fake boobies and had a boobie tree. We had a wonderful lunch and lots of drinks. I was amazed they were all there for me! The owner of that restaurant said to me after the evening was over, that she had never felt so much love in a room. It was wonderful, those ladies laughed and cried with me. They roasted me and wrote songs about me and they toasted my courage in the face of this storm, and I was amazed. Because I didn't see the courage they saw I only seen the war I had to fight, and that night gave me the strength to do it. And without a doubt I knew I wanted to Live!

The days passed very quickly and it was the day before my surgery, I had been putting one thing off long enough. That afternoon I called siblings. My oldest sister and I cried together she told me she loved me and she wasn't angry with me at all. She was just glad I had called. My brother was the same he just wanted to be part of my life and was so releaved that I wanted him to be. I had made my amends with all the people I truely loved but was too afraid to get close to, because I don't think I could stand to loose anyone else.

The surgery was successful, however I had a fall the night of the surgery and a large blood clot formed under the insision. The surgeon had to open the insision and rinse the clott out, that left a gapping hole that was 11.5 centimeters across my chest, and 4 cm deep! It took 7 months to heal that insision. Everytime I had chemo it broke open, I had to go and get it packed everyday. Finally when the chemo was over I went back to the surgeon had another operation and she closed it up for good. My chemo was ok I had 4 rounds and although I wouldn't wish that on my enemies, it wasn't as bad as what my sister went through. I was diagnosed with Invisive Ductal Carsinoma, it was a stage one cancer, but it was a grade three cancer, and I am HER2 positive, which means I continue treatments for a year after the chemo is over. I go every three weeks to the cancer clinic and I get a drug called Herceptin that works agains the cloning cell HER2. Unfortunately I am alergic to this drug! So it is harder on me then the chemo was. What is supposed to be a walk in the park has turned out to be a bit of a crawl. But the good news is I only have 11 more treatments!

So after this lengthy story, I have come full circle. Cancer started off taking away someone so important to me, changing my personailty and my outlook on life. It filled me with fear and loss, in my mind it took my family away from me. I became lonely and angry and in ways I had stopped living. Cancer ended up giving me back my life. Once I was diagnosed I realized how important life is. How much I wanted live, how much I loved my imediate family as well as how much my extended family means to me. It made me realize that harboring anger and remorse gets you no where. You get back what we put out in life. I now am greatful for everyday that is given to me. I take the present I open it each day and I enjoy it to the fullest. I'm so Thankful that I found my cancer early and I'm so amazed at how much people care for me, and how supportive they have all been. Most importantly, the guilt I felt about my sister is gone. I have now walked in her shoes, I know that its just the grace of god if you get to stay a little longer or go home a little sooner. Now don't get me wrong! I'm not glad I had cancer or anything like that, I've just learned from the experience I've had.

Thank you


ps please forgive my spelling I can't get spell check to work!

Early detection does save lives!!!


Thank you so much for sharing your story with us. You have so much courage! The message that this sends to us all is that early detection does save lives! Praise God that your cancer was caught at an early stage. Congratulations on your upcoming 50th birthday! Birthdays are so special to everyone, but especially to the cancer survivor community!


My journey started while recovering from back and shoulder surgery. I had already been on the table 5 times,which included 3 lumber epidurals. remembering I still needed to see my annual ob/gyn,eye,dentist, and of course my
favorite, mammogram. Getting everything done, I saved the best for last. To my surprise they found a mass. After the biopsy,tests doctors, MRI's I had a lumpectomy and waited for the best. My surgeon tried to get it all, and
found a larger mass the MRI didn't see.With my heart in my throat, the words bilateral mastectomy. I couldn't see going through this again, and had both breast removed. Bless with unbelievable doctors, and the best plastic surgeon, and two more surgeries,(removal of both breast, with expander's put
in and the third permanent silicone implants) I was healed. I am a two yea
r survivor! Getting checked and find the cancer early saved my life. I was
stage 1, and didn't need radiation or chemo. Next year I'll be 50,
take care of you, Carolyn

Even after reconstruction...get your mammograms


Thank you so much for sharing this information with the other survivors out there that might be thinking they no long need a mammogram. No matter your age or what type of reconstruction you've had, yearly mammograms and visits to your doctor are so important. I hope and pray that your mother is feeling better. I'm sure that this has been very difficult for her and your family. We'll be keeping you all in our prayers.


My mother had a double mastectomy 30 years ago. She never really thought about herself, she was always taking care of everyone else. So she hasn't had a mammogram in 8 years. Well, she has been feeling sick for a while. She aches and has no energy, it's just hard to get up and go. She thought since she's going to be sixty this year it was her age. Last week she went to the Doctor and found out that both implants have busted open (who knows when) and now she has polyps all over her insides and will have to go through at least one surgery to remove the implants (which will not be replaced) and clean the mess in side of her. So everyone please keep your appointments for your mammogram's.

For the love of my grandmother


It is so touching to hear you talk about your grandmother. The best news of all is that she is doing so well. It is also so encouraging that at your age you are bringing awareness to the fight against breast cancer. I hope and pray that there is a cure in our lifetime.

May your grandmother continue to have many healthy, happy years ahead of her.


My grandmother, Elizabeth, had breast cancer and was a breast cancer suvivor.

When she first got it, it was shocking. It's one of them moments where you don't expect something that drastic to happen to you or to someone you love. But it did, she had breast cancer on both sides. She had to go through chemotherapy and radiation. It was scary at first. We weren't sure that the treatments were working, it was already bad enough that we caught it at a bad stage. But all of our prayers went through and my grandmother survived. My grandmother is now 72 years old and very healthy..

My name is Stevey and I am 17 years old. I wanted to post this blog to let anyone with breast cancer know there is hope. And for females who don't have breast cancer, get interested about the situation it's serious. Go to the doctor for regular check-ups and even if you can't get to a doctor do regular self check ups. Be IN THE KNOW.

-Thank You For Letting Me Share.

Looking up to mom


It is so great to hear that your mother is doing so well. I can't help but think about my own story. It's also been three years for me as well. My girls were 2 and 4 at the time of my diagnosis, so there wasn't a true understanding of the big picture. It's good to hear the perspective of a daughter, especially one that looks up to her mother. She is so blessed to have you in her life. May she have many more years ahead as a survivor!!!


My name is Kate. My Mother, Ann, was diagnoised with Breast Cancer about 3 years ago. It all started with a regular visit to the Dr. where She had a mamogram done. We were all shocked when The Dr. told m Mom that She had Breast Cancer. After that came surgery to remove the mass from Her breast, and to remove Her Lympth nods that may cause the cancer to come back. After She had recovered from Her surgery, there were many months of Radiation to ensure that the cancer was completley rid of Her body. I cant not even begin to describe the fear of possibly loosing your mom, which I had felt from the day I found out that She had cancer, all the way through Her radiation treatments, and until She was told that the cancer was in remission.
She has been cancer free for 3 years now and We coulldnt be more thrilled. She goes in for regular mamograms and has been doing great ever since. This experience has made Her such a stronger person, and has made me really appreciate my mom more and cherish the time I get to spend with Her. My mother is a Breast Cancer Survivor, and If I happen to get Breast Cancer someday, I hope to have the inner strengh and courage that my Mother had while facing such a difficult challenge. If You or someone You know has Breast Cancer, Please dont give up hope. You can beat this!
Thank You

Sister-in-law and friend


Thank you so much for sharing your story about your sister-in-law. I also had my right breast removed and I remember what it was like trying to do all of the things that I used to do. She will get her strength back. She sounds like such a strong woman. You are fortunate to have each other to support and lift up. Keep having your mammograms each year. Early detection saves lives!


I have a sister inlaw who was diagnosed with breast cancer in the year 1999 and recently she had to have her right breast removed about a year ago.and is now doing chemo and so far she is doing real well. She had lost her hair but it is growing back real well.She can't really do anyrhing like lifting up heavy things so I try to help her when she needs it. She is a real fighter. She is the only sister inlaw I have and hope to stay for awhile.She has a brother who I am married to. Both of their parents both passed away and most of her relatives.Her brother is the only one she has left. She is strong and is fighting to beat this cancer and I hope that oneday they can find a cure for breast cancer and for other cancers as well.It is so sad to see people who are stricken with cancer and die from it is heartbreaking. I get my mamograms every year and count my blessings that I don't have it. So far they have been normal. She is my best friend and sister inlaw. Kimberly A.

Glad to be here...

Thank you Kim for inviting me to be a guest writer on your blog. My name is Amy. I am 34 years old and a 3 year breast cancer survivor. I have been married for 11 years and have two little girls, 5 and 7. I work part time here at the Pink Ribbon Shop and do a little bit of everything. I started working at here December 13, 2006. Why do I know the exact date? It was the day before I found out that I too was about to be a breast cancer survivor.

I had an appointment scheduled after my first day of work. I had found a lump over the weekend in my right breast and wanted to get it checked out by my doctor. I remember asking Kim to share her survivor story with me and then told her that I would be seeing the doctor that afternoon. She was very concerned. I was really not that worried. I thought it was just a cyst. I had no family history. At my appointment, my doctor was not very concerned but thought that we should schedule a mammogram for the next morning. So, I went by myself that morning for the mammogram and waited to get dressed and go home. The nurse called me back and said that the radiologist wanted to talk to me. I walked in and looked at the films on the wall and saw a golf ball size lump on the film. He held my hand and told me that I needed to meet with a surgeon as soon as possible and get this taken out of my body. I went upstairs to my OBGYN's office to get a referral to a surgeon. I walked into her office and she was crying. The radiologist had called her and told her my news. I asked her if he thought it was cancer. She said, "Unfortunately, he is almost never wrong." I had her call my husband and I met him at the surgeon's office. A mastectomy was recommended because of the size of the tumor. December 22, 2006 I had my mastectomy. I had DCIS and invasive cancer in my right breast. I was Stage2B. Praise God that I did not have lymph node involvement. I did have 4 rounds of chemo and did reconstructive surgery about a year after that. I am doing well now and I am on Tamoxifen Therapy. I have 2 1/2 more years of that.

I truly believe that I was meant to meet Kim. She was so supportive of me and was a blessing to me during my treatment. She provided me with so much hope. God had this all in his plans. Kim and I began a local support group for women with cancer a few years ago. We meet once a month and want people to know that they are not alone in their journey with cancer.

I would have never imagined that cancer would be a blessing in my life, but it has been. It has taught me how to live and appreciate everyday that I have with my family and friends. I look forward to hearing all of your stories. I believe that is hope we cope, heal and have hope!

Sunday, November 15, 2009


Hello all! Can't believe it's been almost 2 weeks since my last post.

The 5K "Walk by Faith" benefiting Addi's Faith Foundation went really well. Christa (my 12-year-old daughter) and I finished it together and it was a lot of fun. I felt good and my knee has been fine.

BUT I have a new problem now! My left hip is hurting me, intermittently. Only when I walk ... but not every time I walk. Sometimes it's bad enough that I limp, sometimes it's really fine and I don't feel anything at all. It's weird. I'm trying to figure it out. Wish someone could tell me exactly what is happening. Even though I fulfilled my commitment to myself to do my during-the-week training runs, because of this new issue, I had to miss my long Saturday run this week. I think I'm going to take a week off from running and see what happens, which I HATE to do ... it's not looking good, at this point in my training, that I will be able to resume training and be ready for a half-marathon in January if I take off for too long. It's really depressing! As I said before, I'm trying to figure it out. What could it be (besides the cancer returning!)? What have I done differently lately? Well I got a treadmill ($50 at a garage sale -- woohoo!) and used it once. That went fine. I did do one different workout while watching tv the other night. Laid on my back and simultaneously lifted my left leg and right arm, keeping both straight, until they touched. It didn't seem too hard. I felt nothing pop and it wasn't too painful. Hmm. It's interesting. Hope it goes away soon!

OK ya know I'm getting old when I have two totally different ailments to discuss in the same blog post! Going back to my previously discussed "problem." Let me say that the mystery treatment that I found online and was too embarrassed to share on this blog did not work in the least bit, which I thought was a last-ditch effort anyway. Soooo, finally went to see a new gyn this past week. Last year's new gyn was the one who prescribed a hormone cream for decreased libido ... which my oncologist gave a quick thumbs-down to. At that time, I also complained of painful sexual intercourse, but it was somewhat tolerable then -- nothing like it has been of late -- and she basically told me that it was due to the lack of estrogen and there was really nothing that could be done, and to more or less just do it to make my husband happy and deal with it ... hence the beginning of my feelings of hopelessness about the situation. This year's new doctor was very caring and professional, and she actually had a LOT to offer in the way of thoroughly explaining my problem and ways to help: Prescription, over-the-counter and some internet-only products. She gave me HOPE when I was feeling hopeLESS! Can't wait to start using these items and maybe get my marriage back to some semblance of normalcy. I miss it!

Skipped my dance class this week (on purpose) to attend my "Cancer Caring Group" that Amy and I started a couple of years ago but that I've not attended regularly in over a year since I started my dance class that meets on the same night. It (the cancer group) has really grown, and I felt like I didn't want to completely lose touch with these ladies. One gal in our group (33 yr old sweetie with triple negative bc) was recently diagnosed with a stage IV recurrence to brain, lungs, bones, and liver. Horribly sad, but Wow is she ever positive and encouraging! It's amazing. What an inspiration to us all! I vowed that night that I would try to attend at least every other month.

As I vow to do even more, I want to take this opportunity to officially "throw in the towel" or "wave the white flag" on handling all of the survivor stories that are being submitted to my blog. I simply can't do it, and my inability to keep up is just not nice to all the ladies who have taken the time to put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) to tell their story. It's wrong. So although I'd love to personally respond to everyone, I must admit defeat and ask for help! Fellow breast cancer survivor and good friend Amy has offered to field the survivor stories and "guest blog" for a while. I'll continue to blog, but I won't always be the one who's posting the new stories and responding to them. I am sure everyone will be understanding about this. Look for Amy's first post to appear in the next week or so. I'll ask that she introduce herself and post her own story. I trust that her perspective and comments will be informative and valuable to our blog's readers.

Well, that's it for now. Thanks for reading!


Monday, November 2, 2009

Long time no blog!

Hello all!

Although October is a time that our blog should be kickin' with activity, as you can see I have not made a single entry since mid September! Cearly I do not have time to blog during breast cancer awareness month, The Pink Ribbon Shop's busiest time of year. (I've also accepted the fact that neither do I have the time to decorate the house for Halloween, but that's another matter!) We've been working day and night to get the orders out in a timely manner, and whew, things are finally slowing down a bit!

Another aspect of my life that has suffered during this crazy busy time is my half-marathon training. I am hanging on to my endurance by a mere thread, only running ONE day a week, and that's just my weekend long run. Not cutting it! Consequently my knee has been bothering me. Really pushing myself on Saturday mornings (9 miles this past Saturday) without adequate training during the week is not good on the body. Must ... run ... more ... during the week! I can do it, I will, I will!! Running a 5K this weekend: Addi's Walk by Faith, benefitting Addi's Faith Foundation. It's for a great cause, check it out and donate.

On Saturday's run, I got acquainted with another half-marathon trainee and we got on the subject of breast cancer ... I always wear my New Balance pink ribbon items, including my pink running shoes, so the subject tends to comes up a lot. She asked "How do you know when you have it?" Great question! I am always more than willing to tell my story to whoever will listen! Sadly, I was NOT a regular checker of my breasts. In fact I hardly EVER did breast self-exams. Thankfully God made my "lump" hurt so that I would feel for it. My advice is to KNOW YOUR BREASTS! The more you know what your breasts normally feel like, the more likely you are to recognize when something is not right. Plain and simple. So here I am, living with stage IV breast cancer at age 40-something. One can only wonder where I would be now if I had regularly checked myself and had found the lump earlier, before it had spread to the lymph nodes ... it's something to think about!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Busy-ness, Facebook, and Other Stuff

Hello all! I am really feeling the pinch of breast cancer awareness month being just around the corner. Seems that everyone is getting ready by shopping! Activity at The Pink Ribbon Shop is really ramping up, and any free time (ha-ha) I may have had before is officially gone now. Our online shop is a small, family-run business for me and my husband, but it's a full time job for both of us. October to us is like Christmas to other retailers. It's a crazy time! For me, it's a balancing act to keep our best-selling items in stock while staying on top of the new product game. And everything is magnified: phone calls & customer service inquiries, donation requests, vendor issues, bill paying, employee issues, etc.

Last week, we launched The Pink Ribbon Shop's very own Facebook page! It's been so exciting, but also a lot of work. With the blog, survivor stories, and the Facebook page, on top of our regular website operations, well let's just say we are spread pretty thin! Oh and let's not forget our kids and all of their activities ... but I digress.

Our Facebook page seems to have taken on a life of its own! It started with just a few posts from our customers. It was great receiving such positive feedback about our site and products. Then fans started posting what I call "shout outs" about their survivorship -- how many years, how they're doing now, etc. It's simply amazing! This breast cancer survivor network is really passionate! I just LOVE it. So keep it coming, we love to hear from you.

On a different note, with all that being said, I am STILL working very hard to get caught up on posting survivor stories to this blog. If you've sent in your story and it hasn't yet been posted, please be patient!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Leah's Mom - Deeply Loved & Admired


Thanks for sharing your mom's story. It is my hope that when my children are grown, they admire and respect me as much as you do your mom!


Below is a survivor story about my mom, Claire B., who survived Stage 3 breast cancer.

Leah V.


I had just brought in groceries when my mother called with the news. Her results were in and the word benign was not part of them. The words floated around and I tried to grab a hold of them, unscramble what I was hearing and have it say something else. But there was no way to make the words malignant and mastectomy into anything but total emotional chaos. At the time I had no way of knowing that the mastectomy was going to be the easy part and that my mother, who had never even driven a car, was about to become a warrior in the biggest fight of her life—a fight for her life.

A few weeks later I had just come back from the beach when my sister called with the news. My mother, our mother, had Stage III breast cancer which had also invaded her lymph nodes. I was numb; I was scared; I was 39 years old and didn’t even know what a node did, let alone what happened when they were gone. I had a lot to learn.

What I soon learned was that my mother, the same woman who buttered my waffles when I was a kid and made meatloaf every Monday, may have lost a breast and a bunch of nodes, but she’d gained a huge set of…pardon the expression…cojones. She braved the chemo, the nausea and fatigue; she held her head high as she came to terms with the altered state of her body and knew radiation might give her the likes of a bad sunburn...without a day at the beach. Her breast was gone and her hair soon followed. As it clumped on her clothes and pillows she made the call—shave it off. We were nervous; it was surreal; for all the times I’d wanted revenge for the bad bang trims she’d given me, I’d never imagined shaving my mother’s head. With the first pass of the razor, we were giggling and rubbing her peachy soft head as if it were a magic lamp and a genie might pop out of her ear. There was no doubt what our three wishes might be and her laughter and courage to walk out of the bathroom bald left me in awe. My mom had yet again managed to be there for me, when it should have been the other way around.

Chemo and radiation not only sought out any remaining cancer cells but it infused her with a strength I’d never known she had. She didn’t shrink from life; she donned her wig and was right where she always was…front and center as part of the foundation that supported and held our family together. Watching my mom fight bravely and selflessly through chemo and radiation showed me something else as well. It gave me a real life glimpse of unconditional love and marriage. My father and mother went through the cancer together; without hesitation; without reservation, they faced it—together. Bald head, one breast and green from nausea, my mother was still the most beautiful woman I’d ever known and I could see the reflection of that in my father. Every time he drove her to and sat through an appointment; when he told her to leave the wig off at home and when he ate soup for dinner because it was all she could stomach, I saw love in its most important form…selfless support and acceptance.

It’s been almost two years since my mother was given the beautiful title of “Survivor in Remission.” It was a title I’d never even heard of nor would ever have wanted to, but when it came to my mother’s brave battle against breast cancer, it was like a Purple Heart, Oscar, Emmy, Golden Globe and being crowned the Queen of England all rolled into one. It was life being allowed to go on with her in it; it was more time for my kids to be with their Me-Mom; my Dad to be with his wife and more time for all of us to spend with this amazing woman whose hard yet elegantly fought battle with breast cancer left us in awe of her strength and resilience. Along with being a wife, mother, grandmother and friend, she is now a “Survivor in Remission.” With her battle scars fading across her chest, her arm wrapped tight against the lymphedema, and her beautiful salt and pepper hair back on her head…my mom is not only a survivor, she is also the greatest heroine of any story, real or imagined, that I’ve ever heard.

Kathy, Doing Well After Double Mastectomy


Thanks for sharing. So glad to hear that are doing well after your double mastectomy. I have a good friend who also chose that, even though the cancer was unilateral and no lymph nodes were involved. She was 31. I always say that that's my one regret with my cancer treatments ... If I had to do it all over again, I would have had a double mastectomy. Although, when my cancer did return, it was on the same side as I had my mastectomy. Go figure!

Glad to hear that you are doing well.


My breast cancer survivor story

I had my annual mammogram on July 20th, was called back to have a more intensive mammogram done. I was told that I needed to have a needle biopsy done and on August 4, 2008, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Fortunately, it was caught early enough that it didn't get into my lymph nodes and it was only on one side, but due to the fact that my mother died from breast cancer and the chances of the cancer returning in the other breast were high, I chose to have a double mastecomy. I am doing well and I praise God for that.

Kathy S.

Terri, 10-Yr. Survivor, Learns God is in Always in Control


Thank you so much for sharing your informative, interesting and inspirational story. Very well written! It's always good to hear from sisters in the faith.

My cancer, too, did not show up on mammogram. The lump was palpable, but very near the chest wall, so it wasn't visualized on the mammogram. Plus, I was 32 so my breasts were dense which also contributed to the mammogram not detecting anything. Ultrasound did show it, and well, the rest is history ... see my previous blog posts for the latest on my cancer journey.


10 year cancer survivor story

Cancer unfortunately will touch many of us at some point in our life. It may not be you or an immediate family member but chances are good that you will know someone that will have cancer. You may already know someone or you may be like me…a Cancer Survivor. I have found that cancer survivors have an instant bond and friendship. I use Cancer to spread awareness. Because of God giving the wisdom to physicians and prayer, will celebrate my 10 year Breast Cancer anniversary July 19, 2009. It’s funny how our minds work. I can’t remember sometimes the details from 2 days ago but I can remember every minute from July - November in 1999. Maybe that’s God’s way of keeping me grounded and keeping everything in perspective. Genesis 21:22 God is with you in all that you do. On July 1st 1999, I found a small lump in my left breast. I kept thinking why should I even worry, breast cancer doesn’t run in my family, I wasn’t over 40 - I was only 37, none of the risk factors of breast cancer applied to me. Little did I know that 80% of women diagnosed with breast Cancer have no prior family history of cancer. All I knew at that moment was that I had two sons, Jeff - 11 ½ and Justin - 10 years old that needed their Mom, and honestly…..I was worried. I had a mammogram at age 35 as a baseline and I felt healthy so when I went to my gynecologist on Wednesday July 7th, I felt the appointment was just for peace of mind. My gynecologist confirmed that there was a cyst and sent me for another mammogram (18 months since the baseline) the next day Thursday July 8th. The mammogram showed nothing…so the radiologist conducted an Ultrasound. So ladies, if you feel you need to be checked further if a mammogram doesn’t show something but you feel in your heart there is something there, insist on an ultrasound. Mammography works well for women that are post menopausal in their 60s - their breast are less dense. Mammograms are great for screenings, but they aren’t foolproof and ultrasounds work well for women in 30-60 age group. Most important, your best defense is monthly self-breast exams and yearly checkups. The statistics show 1 in 8 women will get breast cancer. Race is not considered a factor that might increase a woman’s chance of getting breast cancer. White women have a higher rate of developing breast cancer than any other racial or ethnic group. However, among women under age 40, African Americans have a higher incidence of breast cancer than white women. Breast cancer in men is rare, but it does happen. Roughly 1,900 men will be diagnosed, and about 450 will die of the disease this year. Many men do not even realize they can develop this disease. Unfortunately, this can delay diagnosis and as a result, some cancers are not found until the disease has progressed to a later stage. However, when cancer is found at the same stage among men and women, the survival rates are similar. Because the male breast is much smaller than the female breast, it is more likely the disease will spread to the chest wall. Now that I have probably unnerved you with those statistics let me give you the good news. If you are diagnosed with breast cancer, the 5-year survival rate for all women diagnosed with breast cancer is 89 percent. This means that 89 out of every 100 women with breast cancer will survive for at least five years. Most will live a full life and never have a recurrence. Your chances of surviving are better if the cancer is detected early, before it spreads to other parts of your body. In fact, when breast cancer is found early and confined to the breast, the 5-year survival rate is 98 percent. I like to believe that I am in 98% since I found the tumor and the cancer had only spread to 2 out of 10 lymph nodes. Enough stats…the Ultrasound did confirm something was there and I went to the surgeon the next day, Friday July 9th for a biopsy. That weekend was hard – just not knowing I found was worse than knowing. I have a controlling personality which made the waiting terrible but I felt God was letting me know I wasn’t in control and just trust him. Proverbs 3:5,6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct your paths. Less than 2 weeks from the time I discovered the cyst, I was diagnosed with breast cancer, and on Monday July 19th, 1999, I had a mastectomy and reconstructive surgery. After surgery and the complete biopsy, I was told my treatment was going to be 4 aggressive Chemo treatments every 3 weeks over a 3 month time period that would begin in August. Now let me share that you can always see that God is there and you can take instances that are perceived as bad but actually can turn out to be well worth the pain and anguish. I truly believe everything good or bad happens for a reason. So my illness brought more to light concerning my children that I don’t know if I would have known if I hadn’t gotten sick. We went to church. My sons were involved in RAs and Sunday school but little did I know that my oldest was really struggling with his beliefs. At the time I was diagnosed I remember thinking - thank goodness my youngest, Justin was too young to understand but I didn’t realize he was just keeping things to himself and he understood more than I realized. I was wrong as well that I thought my oldest, Jeff was in better spiritual shape after all he had even been baptized. But, Jeff shared with me after my surgery that he really didn’t know if there was a God. “How could God let his Mom get sick?” He was struggling with his faith. As a parent, how do you fix this situation again I am a control freak – thinking I can fix everything. But, I prayed to God that I didn’t know how to deal with this issue or how to correct it. My prayer was that my sons know him no matter what happened to me that I really believed he was in charge and I would accept the outcome as God’s Will. When my hair was falling out from the chemo, my husband and youngest son had gone to football practice. I was on the deck on Labor Day trying to shave my head….my oldest son, the non-believer, came out to help me….he said “I can do this Mom, I will shave your head and we aren’t going to cry because this is the last bad thing we are going to have to deal with…you only have 3 more treatments to go”. Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. I believe the Lord was working that day with the both of us. Jeff grew up a lot that day and I learned it’s just hair, something that first came to mind when I was diagnosed didn’t seem so important anymore…Ladies, I really know what a “bad hair day” really is. After breast cancer, Jeff’s faith grew and he now completely devotes his life to God and is “on fire” for the Lord. He is active in his church and a senior in college and very active with the “Fellowship of Christian Athletes”. Justin got saved after my battle with breast cancer of which Jeff decided to get baptized again since he felt this time he wasn’t just going through the motions any more. Something all parents live to see is their children’s baptism and I had both of mine at the same time. Justin kept his head shaved the whole time I was bald. He actually had a teacher whose sister had Breast Cancer that in his year book stated she couldn’t have gotten through the ordeal without their talks. That was his way of dealing with me having cancer by going through the illness again with his teacher. Justin, a junior in college now is involved in many activities such as community service. His freshman year, he shared with me an Essay he wrote called “The Cancer’s Toll” of which he got an “A”. It was very enlightening for me to read his recollection of our Breast Cancer Family Experience. He writes “many people go through life encountering many unexpected events that will impact them the rest of their life. I believe the greatest impact on my life was when my mother had cancer. Although cancer is always looked upon as an awful situation, it changed many of my family members including myself for the better”. He recaps the events that I have shared with you today and closes with this paragraph “There is a greater appreciation for every moment we have here and he has a totally a different perspective on life. He values the time with each other and thinks everyone should enjoy life with a lot more playing than working (which playing he certainly does more than I wish sometimes at college). He also said “he loves that his Mom doesn’t dread birthdays like most women because that’s just one more year Breast Cancer free”. I wonder if my sons, now men, would have been different if there hadn’t been Breast Cancer and I chose to believe they are better men because of Breast Cancer. I like to believe my husband and I are also better because of Breast Cancer. We don’t sweat the small stuff. With the economy situation, we try to focus on we have our health and each other. Everything else will work itself out. We celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary last year and I plan on celebrating our 50th anniversary as well cancer free! Breast Cancer or any cancer for that matter isn’t a “death sentence” provided it is detected early. Keep your Faith – know that God is there every step of the way. Don’t wait until you have this type of experience to tell the people around you how much they mean to you and how much you love them. If you find that are going through illness or bad times in their life, it’s ok if you have a pity party even if no one attends the party but you and God, just have that good cry, pray fervently to help you focus on the good and remember my favorite verse. Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.

In closing, always trust God to be in control. I will be the first to admit sometimes I still forget that I cannot control or fix everything. There is a Higher power – just let things be and never take life, my family, friends, health and so forth - all these blessing for granted!

Terri S.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

My Health Update

At the request of a few readers, here's an update on how I'm doing. In a word, Great! I continue on my monthly Zolodex injections, which are now administered by my husband, Danny. (And by the way he is absolutely the best person at doing that. Better than any nurse I've received it from!) Doing this allows us to only have to travel to MD Anderson quarterly instead of monthly, as I've done for the past 3 years. When I say "travel," I mean drive 45-60 minutes. We are fortunate to be that close to the best cancer treatment center in the world, so I can't very well complain. It's just that it's an all-day affair when we do go for my treatments, and I would rather NOT go if I don't have to.

My scans have been spaced to every 6 months now, because all of my results have been consistently good since being put on this current medication regimen of Femara (by mouth daily,) Zolodex, and Zometa. Where there once was a "moderate pleural effusion" surrounding my left lung is now only a small amount of scar tissue. I saw that chest CT scan -- it looked much more than "moderate" to me ... the doggone lung was being squeezed to less than half its normal size due to the fluid around it ... but I digress. The radiologist's reports describe the bone metastasis on my left femur, sternum, and lower spine as "healing" and "stable." Where once my chest's lymph nodes were enlarged, "grape-like clusters," they are now of normal size and barely visible. It's nothing short of miraculous, really! Really!

I've started my 2nd year of training to run a half-marathon. I completed my first one on New Year's Day of this year and plan to do the same as I ring in 2010. It's funny, but I'm in the best physical condition I've ever been in in my adult life -- And I'm a 41 year-old, stage IV breast cancer survivor!

My only real issue these days is something I don't think I've discussed here before. [WARNING: If you're my mom, dad, mother-in-law, father-in-law, or someone who isn't comfortable discussing private matters, please stop here ... Please.] The issue is sex. Since my cancer is estrogen-receptor positive, part of my treatment is to rid my body of all estrogen. My ovaries have been permanently shut down with the medication I am taking. I've been put into menopause and haven't had a menstrual period since Summer 2006, the month before beginning treatment for my stage IV recurrence. Consequently, my sex drive has taken a big hit. And on top of that, sexual intercourse is now painful. Unbearably painful.

My husband has been incredibly understanding during all of this and has been more than willing to participate in some alternative "fun." But it still saddens me! We had what I considered a great sex life before my #2 cancer diagnosis, and now it's ... not. I know that he has physical needs, and lately he has trouble accepting that my issues aren't related to feelings for him. I feel like my body has turned against me and has seriously marred this part of our marriage!

My gyn doc prescribed a small amount of testosterone cream, topically to the wrist, to help with the libido issue(My oncologist quickly nixed that idea because testosterone cream may be converted to estrogen in the body. She didn't want to take any chances, and neither did I and neither did Danny!) Gyn doc found nothing that could be causing the discomfort. I did some reading, um, Googling, and many "treatments" were hormone-based, which I cannot take because of my ER+ cancer. Currently I am trying out a definitely "alternative" treatment which I'm a little embarrassed to disclose at present. :) If it works, I'll disclose, I promise!

So there you have it! A complete and thorough update on ME. If any of you have had similar issues, I would love to hear from you. Any suggestions? (because sexual issues really suck!)

Thanks for reading,

Carla, Helps Mom then is Diagnosed Herself

I really feel for Carla who, having been through her mom's cancer ordeal and subsequent failing health, was then diagnosed herself! They say God doesn't give you more than you can handle ... she must be a very strong woman!

Interesting that her cancer came back on her implants. Implants are a subject that I've been wanting to discuss on the blog for a while now. Not implants put in after breast cancer, but implants that women get merely for aesthetic purposes. I'll blog on that at a later date.


In 1998, my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. She had to get a lumpectomy, in which they remove part of the breast. Then, she was told she would undergo chemotherapy and radiation treatments. When she did the chemotherapy treatment, it caused her to get sick a lot. The doctors told us that she “would have down days.” I asked the doctor, “What do you mean by that?” In addition, he said, that she has to stay away from everyone because her immune system would break down. In addition, she could get sick easily. Then, my mom’s hair started to fall out. This was caused by the chemotherapy treatments. So, being the daughter that I am, I decided to cut my hair to support her, in her time of need. That seemed like it helped her a little, but you know how mothers are, that was not enough. Therefore, I got my sisters and aunts together and we bought different kinds of wigs for her. That put a smile on her face and she soon realized that her hair would grow back.

Once the chemotherapy treatments were over, she had to go through radiation treatments. The radiation treatments made her feel tired a lot. Therefore, there was not much we could do to get her energy up, again.

Unfortunately, we found out that the chemotherapy treatments caused her kidneys to fail. This is known as “RENAL FAILURE.” She was put on dialysis for one and a half years. My sisters and I got together to see who would match. Fortunately, for my mother, two of us matched, and the others had medical problems. The two that matched were my oldest sister and I. We had to undergo a series of treatments. Once the tests were over with, my mother and I found out that, my oldest sister chickened out, because her husband did not want her to do the surgery. I think that she was very scared, because she did not know what life would be without a kidney…all she had to do was ask the kidney doctors, what it would be like to live with one kidney. At this point, all I was worried about was giving my mom a kidney. Therefore, when all was said and done, I was the one who gave her a kidney.

I told my sisters that I would do it with no hesitation. My mother gave me life, so why not give her one of my kidneys to prolong her life a little more? I was a little mad, no I am lying I was mad as heck. For the simple reason, I just started my apprenticeship. In addition, my oldest sister was not working at the time, which made me have to take off from work for one and a half months. I really did not care, as long as my mother was getting kidney.

Now, the kidney only lasted for five years., due to not having her medication. She was just too proud to ask me for the money, because I gave her the kidney. Therefore, she had to go back on dialysis. Once she was back on dialysis, she began to see things. I found out about this from one of my younger sisters. That she is not doing well. She had shortness of breathe and hallucinated a lot…Once again, I tried to do whatever it took to help my mom. It has been one rollercoaster ride after another. My mother’s health started going down, and she had been in and out the hospital constantly. In and out of consciousness, we had to admit her in the hospital. After being in the hospital for so long, she said, she thought she would never go home. When she finally came home, it was only for two weeks, before she went back to the hospital. The reason for that was shortness of breathe…The last time my mom was admitted to the hospital, we received a call telling us that she would not make it through the night. We went to the hospital, to see her and she relapsed into a coma.

When they said that they were going to remove the breathing tube and not put it back, I got scared. Because, I had never gotten to tell her that I had BREAST CANCER, too. So, I ran in the intensive care room, looked at my mom and said, “MOM THERE’S SOMETHING I NEED TO TELL YOU, I HAVE BREAST CANCER AND I NEED YOU HERE TO GO THROUGH IT WITH ME, LIKE I DID WITH YOU, SO DON’T GO!!!” Once I said that, she moved her right arm and leg to let us know that she is not going anywhere. She was still with us…Unfortunately, on May 23, 2007, she passed away from heart failure, as they say. I talked to my mom three days before she had passed and she remembered that I had breast cancer because she asked me how the surgery went. I said fine. I was so happy to hear her voice, not knowing that would be the last time I would hear her voice.

My experience with breast cancer is weird because I have gone through it all. I had a double mastectomy. I was told that I was a good candidate for implants. I received the implants, and to my surprise, they felt like I was being ripped apart. Therefore, I decided to have the tram-flap, which is a tummy tuck, not to flatten your tummy, but to get rid of your little pouch. They took my pouch area and reattached it to my existing breast area, to make new breasts. It was a good thing that I did the reconstructive surgery, because they found cancer cells growing on my implants. After the surgery, I had to do radiation treatments. Now, I am just waiting to get my right breast lifted to be even with my left breast. Then, I will be all right.

Celeste, Breast Cancer and New Primary Site

Celeste had the misfortune of being diagnosed with bone cancer (chondrosarcoma) shortly after her breast cancer treatment.

Once upon a time...When I was 45 years old I had a mammogram
and they found a lump, so I had a biopsy. It was cancer, 1.5 cm
no nodes involved. I did 6 rounds of chemo,(CMF). When I had pre-op
to my surgery they did a bone scan and they found an 8 cm tumor in
my femur. I had an MRI and they said it was not cancer. When I was 48
I had pain in my femur, took an x-ray and the bone was ready to break!!
I went to Mass General they did a bone biopsy and it was also cancer.
It had not spread to bone but a new primary. This cancer is called chrondrosarcoma.
The surgery for the cancer is a bone transplant with a cadaver bone. So they replace
most of my femur. I had 2 years of physical therapy. Last week I went back to Boston
for a follow-up and they found a spot on lung. The words I never wanted to hear.
I had a ct scan just this weekend so I am waiting for results.

My results of the spot found on lungs was NOT cancer it was a granuloma.