Below are true stories from real breast cancer survivors in Cleveland Ohio. These stories remind us that Making Strides Against Breast Cancer is more than just the name of a walk it's the hope that each year will bring us more breast cancer survivors and that the future holds a day when no one will have to hear the words "You have breast cancer."
"My cell phone rang as my sister, Kristen, and I were driving down the highway early November 2006. I saw that it was my doctor's office, and my heart began to race. First the doctor asked me if I was the one driving. I wasn't. That lead-off question told me the rest of the story before she even spoke the words. "All of your biopsies came back positive for cancer", she said. "I'm sorry."
I was a 39-year old wife & mother to 3 kids (ages 11, 7, and 4), with no family history of breast cancer, just going about my hectic life like everyone else. Ironically, I worked with a local non-profit organization called the JD Breast Cancer Foundation. One day I was working at a health fair event spreading the important message of early detection and distributing information on breast self-exams. Also there that day was the Mammovan, a large RV driven in and set up to provide mammograms on the spot to attendees. Near the end of the day, the event coordinator mentioned to us that the Mammovan hadn't had many visitors, a very unusual situation. Feeling badly and realizing that I would soon be 40 years old and would need to get my baseline mammogram done eventually anyway, I volunteered to go out to the Mammovan and get one done.
Subsequent events remain hazy to me, but just 40 days after that mammogram I found myself sitting in a chemotherapy chair fighting for my life with Stage 3 Invasive Ductal Carcinoma. My treatment plan was a tough battle...18 weeks of chemotherapy, followed by a modified radical mastectomy, followed by many weeks of daily radiation. And for the next 5 years, I will have to take a daily drug designed to help fight recurrence. The good news is that my recent scans are showing that my fight has paid off and today my body is cancer-free. I was at that health fair to help save others, yet I myself was saved.
Many people have surfaced since my diagnosis who have done incredible things for my family and me. What continues to amaze me is the outpouring of support from total strangers. During my treatment a woman and her 2 children knocked on my door. I had never met her but she said she was the mother of a schoolmate of my kids. With her she brought a tray of lasagna, a salad, rolls, and even brownies for dessert. She said that her mother had cancer when she was little and she saw how that brought out the best in those around her. She vowed to pay it forward if she was ever given the opportunity. And now, so will I.
I have so much for which to be grateful. Many people say that but I think few actually really know that what they've got is a gift. I hope to have the opportunity to see my children someday grow into responsible adults who will understand the importance of giving back to their community so that we can find a cure for this Mommy-killing disease.....I really feel in my heart that breast cancer will be eradicated in my lifetime. I have a daughter - so it just has to be."
"It was the beginning of August 2005 and I felt a little lump in my right breast and I thought it was nothing since it was time for my period. At the end of August I felt that same lump and called my doctor's office to make an appt. He was out of town so his stand in, as I called him, decided to see me. He gave me hope because he said "if you feel it and it is sore it could just be a fibroid. Nothing to worry about." I made an appointment for a mammogram on Sept. 14, 2005. On Labor Day weekend of September 2005 and I was playing volleyball at a friends house and I jumped up to spike the ball. When I came down I had a pain in my right breast. I blew it off because I thought that I just came down hard, and my doctor's replacement told me it was nothing to worry about.
Well I had my mammogram, which led to an ultrasound, then a biopsy. The Doctor called my work and told me to come see her. I knew it was bad, because if it was nothing she would have said so. I just told her to tell me and she said "I am so sorry, it is breast cancer". After hearing those words I did not listen to anything else she had to say. I was devastated. All I kept thinking was I was going to die, how am I going to tell my husband and family? I went to the bathroom and cried like heck. It was the worst day of my life. The next day I woke up and told my husband that I had the worst dream. He told me that I wasn't dreaming and that I had cancer and "WE" will get through it.
The support of my husband, family, friends, doctors and nurses is the reason I am here today. Research and technology are so advanced today Thank God. I love every day of my life now and I want to give back to others. This foundation is a great way for me to do that. THANKS!!!"
"I have to admit for such a terrifying and scary thing to go through I was quite fortunate and positive. I was diagnosed with Type I Breast Cancer in April of 2006. I had my lumpectomy on May 3rd. I went through surgery with no complications and recovered quite well. Unbeknownst to me, while consulting with my medical oncologist, I found out I had to have Chemo as well as Radiation. I wasn’t sure if he was talking to the right patient, but with my age, it was necessary. Although the nausea, weakness, tiredness and unfortunate side effects of going through treatments was bad, I was lucky. I have a husband whos support was unbelievable, and my friends and family were such a great support system. I knew I was going to come out ok and everything would be fine, I guess that is why it was so surreal of an experience. Almost 2 years later and I still can’t believe I actually went through it.
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If you would like to share the story of your fight against breast cancer please complete the form below. Submitted stories will be posted on our Web site throughout the year to remind us all why we're Making Strides Against Breast Cancer.