By the Grace of God...
My Name is Mary, I found a lump in my right breast in 2009, I was 61, l did not go right away to the doctor, my husband had lost his job no money for this. Now that being said, DON'T let that stop you from going, there are people that
will help you with funding!
When they did the biopsy it was confirmed, cancer, I went right away for prayer. I knew right away I was going to be okay, God walked me through every step even when I did not think I could go on. All the Glory goes to Him.
I had my port put in in February, started chemo right away to shrink the tumor which was considered larger than 6 cm. I had four rounds, then surgery to remove (infiltrating ductal carcinoma.ER/PR+), it had invaded the lymp nodes under my arm so they removed 19 nodes. My oncology doctor was not happy with the fact that the cancer did not shrink and so many nodes were invaded. Oh yea I lost all my hair, so back for three more rounds of chemo. Just when my hair was growing back. I lost it again. Then 37 rounds of radiation. I received 2nd and 3rd degree burns on my breast, had to rest for a week then back at it.
I was given less than a 10% chance to survive, but that was five years ago, and through the grace of God I am still here! I am doing my best to help others to deal with this. I have made lots of friends and lost a lot also. I send prayer pillows to those that would like one. I pray that this will help others to keep fighting, NEVER give up....God Bless You All! - Mary W., Texas
In His Mercy...
I cannot write a testimony about breast cancer without honoring the Lord, because He is the reason I am alive.
I had been very healthy my whole life, with no major health issues (including no broken bones). When I turned 40, I decided to give myself an annual “birthday” present: A general and GYN physical, with all relevant blood work and tests, including biannual screening mammograms. Those exams always resulted in the same news: “Everything’s great! See you next year!” My latest physical (July 2010) was no exception. I also practiced “regular” (though not monthly) breast self-exams. My latest self-check was November 2010; then, I got busy with holidays and retirement plans and travel plans…
In February 2011, my healthy “track record” came to a screeching halt. I was lying in bed one night, reading before I went to sleep, when I “heard” (in my spirit) the Lord “say” to me: “Check your left breast.” I put my fingers right on a tumor whose size was alarming, given the fact that it had not been there just three months earlier. Something that could grow from nothing to such a large size in so short a time had to be “aggressive”… and benign tumors don’t tend to be aggressive.
As it turned out, it was “extremely aggressive” cancer (a 9, on a scale of 1-9). “Healthy” me… with no family history of breast cancer?! I was told I had to get to a surgeon “as soon as possible.” The miracles I experienced as the Lord led me into and through the Valley of the Shadow are far too numerous to recount here! But He did lead me – through major surgery (double mastectomy), extremely aggressive chemo and breast reconstruction. And He continues to lead me now as I am cancer-free and embracing the precious Gift of Life He has given me!
I know the Lord saved my life… and I know one of His reasons is so that I could write this testimony here and encourage other women to do your monthly self-exams! In His mercy, He showed me in a very personal way that self-exams save lives! So I ask you: When was your last self-exam? Don’t wait! It may save your life! - Diana F., Florida
A Strong Warrior
I was 40 years old and 12 weeks pregnant when it was confirmed that I had stage 1 IDC. I had two lumps. I was initially told only one was malignant. But the pathology report revealed that both were. I had a masectomy 14 weeks pregnant and started chemo at 26 weeks after debating with my Oncologist who wanted me to start at 19 weeks. My treatment spanned over nine months due getting single agent chemo due to pregnancy. After my hair fell out and my nails, hands, and toes turned completely black, the severe neuropathy chemo was stopped. Then I started taking Tamoxifen and three weeks in developed a DVT in my arm and was switched to Arimidex. Now I am dealing with the chemo induced neuropathy and severe hot flashes for which I was prescribed a patch to control bp and flashes. And also severe bone aches. I am a one year survivor and warrior. - Tatsey F., Michigan
A Second Opinion...
I was just a kid back then and didn't think much about a knot because I had been to see (get this irony) a FEMALE gynecologist and she said it was nothing to worry about! My grandmother had just undergone a mastectomy so my mother was worried and not satisfied with my gyno's opinion. I got a second opinion and within 24 hours, the MALE doctor had me in surgery for removal and biopsy. By the grace of God, it came back as benign but he still wasn't satisfied with the fibroid tumor diagnosis I had been given previously and he encouraged yearly mammograms. I wasn't crazy about it but I agreed.
I am now 36 and have had two more "questionable" tumors removed, both of which I found myself, in between mammograms that I have had yearly ever since the first incident in 1999. They too have come back as benign but puzzling to my doctor.
I don't have to tell you how uncomfortable these tiny little surgeries are. But because these tumors were solid…when they would try to do a simple needle biopsy, they were not able to retrieve any tissue to test for cancer. So every one of my tumors was surgically removed and then tested. I have been blessed with no malignant cancer, as of now. However, I shudder to think if I'd simply accepted the first opinion when I was younger…where I'd be now. I've been encouraged to go ahead with a double mastectomy and reconstruction as a preventative action, but I respectfully declined.
I have been a Pink Ribbon advocate since 1999! I help "paint the town pink" every October. I share the startling statistics with any and everyone who will listen...most men are apprehensive to wear a pink ribbon until I tell the story about my Daddy's MALE cousin who died as a result of breast cancer. I even have a tattooed pink ribbon in honor of my grandmother who is still cancer free due to early detection and her quick thinking physician!
Some people ask me why I didn't opt for the preventative surgery and I simply tell them that IF or when someday I am diagnosed with cancer, then I will have my story to tell. I will be a tool to help others learn what or what not to do if they are ever in my position.
I also want to mention that I have very small breast too...as in 32-34A and was told I have VERY dense tissue which is why at least half of the mammograms I've had resulted in an ultrasound immediately following just to be SURE they aren't missing anything. Doctors are brilliant and are trained in what they do. But they are trained with statistics in mind. Sometimes it's safer to step outside the box and take a look.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read my story and thank you to Knotty Girl and her team for all you do for this cause! You are literally helping to save lives! - Jennifer H., Mississippi
In Sickness and in Health A Caregiving Story of Love
My mother had been seriously ill since she was 32 years old. My father was her caregiver in her later years. We should all be so blessed to have a caregiver as awesome as he was.
Things people do not always speak of: when someone can not take care of their basic hygiene needs, to have someone to clean under their fingernails, also, when someone voids-being sure all is cleaned up thoroughly to prevent any infections, if a lady has a tummy or breasts that ‘hang’ to clean and dry those areas well to prevent yeast growing in those nice dark warm areas and to do all this lovingly. However, that was the least of my father’s care of my mother. Upon bathing my mom one day before Christmas Eve, my father noticed a hard lump that had never been there previously, under my mother’s left arm in the breast area. No family history of breast cancer, mammograms done regularly. Before Christmas dawned, my mother was wisked off to the hospital by her doctor’s orders to begin the process of treatment-upon examination, it was cancerous. Most likely, God’s direction for my father’s awareness saved my mother’s life.
Knotty Girl speaks the truth, do your self exam or if unable to, pray for someone close to you to assist. - Gail B., Florida
A Courageous Battle
I am Cindy, a five year metastasized breast cancer survivor. I had been doing self exams and had mammograms and ultrasounds regularly for seven years. I started at age 45 in 2003 with the mammogram as I felt a lump in my left breast. I have dense breast tissue, so ultrasounds were ordered after each mammogram. You must go with your gut feeling of something being wrong and go for a second opinion before I did. By 2009, the 'knot' I was feeling had metastasized to the point where it was finally felt by the professionals, seen, and biopsied as positive for cancer.
I was diagnosed on March 27, 2009 with ductal cell carcinoma that had been there a long time. My tumor was 5 cm in size. Time was of the essence. I needed neoadjuvant chemo first to decrease the size of the tumor. After having a chest medi-port put in place, these four rounds of treatments made me tired and caused my hair to fall out, but I was determined to fight this battle courageously as most people were like, "Get it cut out all ready."
But, I had a wonderful oncologist and put my trust in him to take care of me the best way he knew how. This was a way of verifying the tumor was in fact responding to the medication.
Then came a complete mastectomy and eleven lymph nodes removed. All were positive for cancer. the cancer was still active after surgery, so began four more rounds of chemo with a new three medication cocktail of meds. My hair fell out once again after just starting to grow back, but I persevered on.
Thirty-five rounds of radiation came next. I got through that fairly easily until about half way through and I started getting burns. I don't think everyone burns, but I was getting three areas of my chest zapped each time. So, we stopped treatments for a week to allow some healing time. We finally finished those.
Then, the daunting task of trying Tamoxifen. I really hurt and felt terrible taking this medication. I switched to Arimidex after I had four more surgeries over a two year period. The Tamoxifen caused growths that required either D&C's or a hysterectomy. I had two D&C's before finally agreeing to a complete hysterectomy, ovaries and all.
We weren't finished as within the year, I had to have my gallbladder out as it was full of gallstones and causing me great pains.
The Arimidex made parts of my body swell. So I switched back to Tamoxifen which I'm still on today. I would choose not to take it, but due to my high risk of recurrence, it is imperative. So, I march on with my courageous battle. And, I believe you or your loved one can march on, too! Keep believing there is hope and never give up or give in. You can do it and get through it! - Cindy M., Florida
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