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!