Ruth’s Story On November 9, 1985, at age 64, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Yes, it was a great shock to me as well as to my family. First, I pushed the panic button—What should I do? After discussing the situation with our doctor, we decided on a mastectomy.

The surgery went well and I was assured that all of the growth had been removed. I did not have chemo or radiation at any time. Within six weeks, I was able to resume my work as a beautician.

A bra with a prosthesis on one side helps me look and feel very natural; a good sense of humor helps me cope. My friends and family are wonderful, laughing with me about the “funny side” of the “Big C.”
Marcia’s Story It’s been five years since I first felt the lump; it’s been four since I had my mastectomy and the removal of five lymph nodes. I have been with the Survivors’ Sisterhood almost since the day of my diagnosis. They helped me get through those days of chemo and questions; they still encourage me. I look around the table at our meetings and see those who have survived far longer than I.

The “we” that joins us, breast cancer, has affected each of us in different ways. We have each chosen our own ways of coping with it and its aftermath. One of my choices was reconstruction. It’s been two years since I’ve had that. Would I recommend it? Not at my age or weight. But those are things I didn’t know until after I’d had it done. I hoped everything would be like it was. Reality, however, tells me that it was far too much to expect. It’s not the fault of the doctor—it’s the fault of the calendar and the scale!

Meanwhile, I am grateful to be healthy and able to care for myself and my family, able to take trips, enjoy life and encourage others.
Karen's Story My name is Karen. I was a forty-year-old wife and mother in 1998 when I had a lumpectomy. I was told, "It's breast cancer." Then I had a partial mastectomy, followed by chemo, radiation, and a five-year prescription for tamoxifin. I am now into my third year of tamoxifin and looking forward to the day when I can stop taking it. It has caused me enough problems that I had to have a hysterectomy about a year ago.

As of now I see my oncologist every three months and I am doing very well. The fear of cancer is still never very far from my thoughts, but that is getting better with time. Starting the support group and being involved in Reach to Recovery also helps.
Roberta's Story My name is Roberta and I have cancer diagnosed in June,2000. Extensive testing, biopsies, and port insertion were done at the U of M Cancer Center. Diagnosis was 9 cm malignant breast tumor had metasticised into lymph glands and bone. Had had this for 5 years undetected. Tumor was too large to remove, so treatment was started with oral medication to shrink tumor. Infusion treatments to treat and strengthen the bone were also started every 4 weeks. Prognosis was two years to live. In February, 2001 my blood count indicated I was in remission.In May,2001 bone scan showed there was no longer any cancer in the skull or pelvis. Cancer concentrated in the sacro-iliac. Breast tumor could not be found.

It is now September, 2002. Bone scans and blood counts have not changed. I remain on oral medication for breast tumor and infusions every four weeks for the bone.

I have great support from my family and many friends. Most of all, I have great faith in God and continue my life normally each day thinking only POSITIVE thoughts.

Have a great day.
Diane's Story My life and spirit were greatly changed in 1982 when I was diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer. I had a bi-lateral, semi-radical mastectomy, followed by a year of chemotherapy. While it was a very difficult year, both physically and emotionally, there were also many positive aspects of having the disease.

I learned to go deeper within myself and I found strength and courage I didn’t know was there. After much struggle on my part, I realized God was with me in all my needs, both big and small. I learned many, many more things about life and myself that year. These things are an important part of who I am today, twenty years later.

Most of all, I want people to know breast cancer is not an automatic death sentence. Many people, including myself, did not believe I would recover from it. But I have gone twenty years without reoccurrence. Why I have survived and others haven’t, I don’t know. I feel I had very good medical help, as well as a strong belief in God and myself.

Life has choices. No matter how dark my circumstances were at the time, I learned that God and I were--and are-- in charge of my life.

May God bring you all wellness in body, mind, spirit and emotion.
Ginger's Story In June 1992, when I was 51 years old, I discovered a lump in my left breast. I had a clear mammogram in September of 1991. After a lumpectomy on July 2, which revealed the lump was cancerous, many other tests and mammograms followed. It was recommended that I have a radical mastectomy. This was done the end of July. I felt very lucky to learn that all the lymph nodes that had been removed were clear of cancer.

Because of the size of the tumor, the speed of its growth, and its location (close to a blood disfusation area) it was recommended that I receive six chemotherapy treatments, three weeks apart. The chemo was delivered by way of a portocath which had been placed in my chest. While the treatments weren’t easy, they were not as bad as I had feared and I had no big problems at all. Hair loss was a consequence, of course, but it came back in pretty much as it had been before. I had hoped it might be thicker and curly, however!

The chemo was followed by checkups every three months, gradually reduced to once a year. I continue my annual mammogram and practice monthly self-checks. I have been cancer free for ten years and I am planning on remaining that way.
Helen's Story In June of 2002 I found a lump in my right breast. I called the doctor immediately and was told to come to his office at 5 PM that day. He checked my breast and told me to come back at noon the following day; he was going to do a biopsy. He removed the lump and rolled it around in his hand. As he was showing it to me, he said he thought it was a fatty tumor, but he was going to send it in and have it tested.

Four days later I was called and asked to bring my husband to the office with me. At the age of 81, I received the news that I had cancer, that my breast had to come off because the tumor was located just below the nipple. That was the reason they had not found it on my mammogram which I'd had done less than year before.

In July of 2002, my breast and five lymph nodes, two of which were cancerous, were removed. Three weeks later I was put on Taxmoxifin, which I am still taking and I'm doing fine.

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