How do You Stay Empowered during Treatment?

by Vicki on August 17, 2014

After receiving my breast cancer diagnosis in 2004, I immersed myself in gaining knowledge about my treatment. I joined many different kinds of support groups and slowly became my own best advocate. We received 5 beautiful Breast Milagro necklaces as the prize for the Pink-Link June/July contest. To determine the winners, I asked the following question in our monthly newsletter, “How do you stay empowered during your treatment?” I received a number of responses, some of which I’ve posted here.

“I stayed empowered during breast cancer treatment (8 years ago) by staying active – physically, mentally and emotionally!   Of course it is hard to stay active but when I could, I would go to the gym and work out as often as possible.   I loved how I felt stronger by lifting weights or walking on the track, all with a scarf covering my bald head.   Of course I got stares, but who cares.   I had a woman come up to me once and tell me how great it was to see me working out because it made her realize that there are no excuses – if I could work out, she could definitely work out.   I also worked as much as I could during treatment  -  staying mentally sharp was a good way to keep me from dwelling on my breast cancer, and my employer was so supportive.   And finally, I stayed emotionally connected through a loving support network of family and friends.    I think all of those things came together to empower me – give me the strength to fight and win!” Bernice V., Pink-Link member [click to continue…]

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How Did You Find Your Breast Cancer?

by Vicki on June 7, 2014

For the Pink-Link April/May contest, we asked the question, “How did you find your breast cancer?” We received numerous responses, all of which were very interesting. The following, however, stood out to me as inspirational and educational.

“How I found my breast cancer 26 years ago…of course I can never forget.  I was 31 years old & no family history of breast cancer.  I remember how tired I felt all the time & the terrible pain I felt in my right breast.  I thought I would feel a lump but then it would disappear.  The pain & the tiredness did not.  So I guess from a self exam.  I went to my family doctor then I was sent for a mammmogram, then on to a needle biopsy.   I will always remember I recieved the phone call at work & was told it was milignant.  Wow did my world change.” Georgia S., Pink-Link member

“I found my tumor myself on a Sunday afternoon while watching a movie.  Above my left breast I was, for some reason, scratching the area of the tumor.  I felt the lump & tried to see if it would rotate & of course it did not.  I was hurting in my back & took some pain reliever.  The lump was stable & hard.  I knew what the possibility could be…Breast Cancer.  And I was correct.  That was 8 years ago.” Beverly R., Pink-Link member

“My journey is quite different from most. My year (2013) began with me feeling like something was wrong with me.  I went from doctor to doctor having them check hormones, thyroid, blood, etc.  All came back with normal readings.  I couldn’t get past the feelings I was having.  I was so tired, my hair was brittle and falling out, my skin was so dry.  I felt hopeless and helpless.  I had my mammogram in December (2012) and my results were clear.  Nothing found.  Around the latter part of February and early March, my left breast began to hurt.  I was constantly self-examining my breasts because of the risk factor.  My aunt died from breast cancer and my cousin had just been diagnosed and was in the throes of battle herself.  So I was a fanatic about it.  But didn’t feel anything.  Another month went on and the pain increased.  I continued with self-examination and found a small lump. There was so much pain and fever in my breast.  I went to my OBGYN and they examined the breast and didn’t find a thing.  They said it was probably hormones.  I was 44 at the time, so that was possible.  The pain persisted.  Unrelenting….I was exhausted from the pain and already so fatigued all the time.  I went back just 2 ½ weeks later and had another exam.  I was treated for mastitis.  I went through 3 rounds of antibiotics and then referred to a breast surgeon. The lump had doubled in size by then.

I was examined once again and treated with 2 more rounds of antibiotics and sent for another mammogram. I had the mammogram and once again, I had a clean report.  I couldn’t believe it.  What was wrong with me?  After the report from the mammogram, my breast surgeon decided to biopsy the breast tissue.  Then on July 3, 2013, my world changed forever with a stage 3 invasive ductal carcinoma diagnosis.  I began treatment right away since  we had already lost a lot of time.  I went through 4 treatments of The Red Devil and then 4 treatments of Taxol.  November 7, 2013, I had my bilateral mastectomy.  And the pathology report came back clean. No cancer in the tissue or in the lymph nodes.  Following surgery I had 28 treatments of radiation which I finished in October and now I am in the middle of reconstruction.

My story is not like anyone else. My cancer hurt and my screenings were clear.  Self-examination is crucial.  I’m glad I didn’t give up.” Lisa W., Pink-Link member

“I found my tumor myself while doing a self breast exam in the shower just days before I went to see my gynecologist. I pointed it out to her and she was alarmed. She scheduled an immediate ultrasound and mammogram for the next day. My insurance at the time attempted to deny the tests as unnecessary because of my age. I was just 29 years of age. My doctor demanded that the tests be performed. That was the day I found out I had a tumor. By the next week, I had an emergency appointment made with a surgical oncologist, who confirmed through a biopsy that it was indeed cancer.” Melissa C., Pink-Link member

“I found my breast cancer lump while I was taking a bath.  I went to my doctor and he said it was nothing.  Well, 8 months later when I became pregnant, I went to a new doctor who said to get the lump checked out by a surgeon.  Guess what?  It was cancer.  So I had to go through surgery and chemo while I was pregnant.  That was 17 years ago and my beautiful, healthy daughter is thriving!” Heidi S., Pink-Link member

“On Mother’s Day night 2008 ..i found a lump , but i wanted to wait because i wanted to see if it was going to change and see if it was just one of my usual water cysts that i normally had before . It stayed the same and over the next couple of weeks it got more solid. It was about the size of a pea, but deep in the breast. I told my husband at that point that i needed to make an appointment with my regular doctor (one that i used to work for as a medical assistant..so i trusted her and had become now a patient since i no longer worked from persitant other health problems) I made the appointment within a week still in May and she came in and did a clinical breast exam. She then told me that all the felt was “fibrocystic changes” in the breast and not to worry. She went out of the room and was going to get my check out form. I told my husband that i still had a gut feeling that the lump i felt was solid and that she just didn’t feel it..or couldn’t..it was deep and that maybe only i could. My husband told me to go with that gut feeling. She came back in and i asked for a mammogram anyway. She was surprised that i didn’t trust her ..but gave me the slip for the mammogram anyway. 2 weeks later….i had the mammogram….they took lots of views and i was concerned. Then i was asked to go right to ultrasound. I got even more concerned..my fears may be getting validated now. In the ultrasound all of a sudden the tech went to get the radiologist….they talked softly to each other..but not to me. After that..a nurse came in and said i needed a biopsy for the right breast. They usually cannot do them same day, but they had a cancellation and could be fit in . They went and got my husband. They suspected cancer. Biopsy was done and i would be let known 24 hours later. The next day..my regular doctor called (the one that dismissed the lump)and said the biopsy showed DCIS and that she was so sorry and that she had made a mistake in not trusting me. I was to see a surgeon the next day and she would see to it i got the best. They scheduled my surgery for June 10th 2008. The surgeon went in to get the DCIS initially, but while there saw that there was also tissue that he did not like in another spot that biopsy and mammogram did not pick up..so..i had invasive also. I had DCIS AND stage 1 but the invasive was grade 3 ..i was also triple negative. So in all of this…i was the one that found my breast cancer.” Amber T., Pink-Link member

How did you find your breast cancer? Please comment below to share with others.

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Did your doctor explain everything you needed to know about your breast surgery? If not, what did he/she miss?

April 4, 2014

For our March contest, I asked the question, “Did your doctor explain everything you needed to know about your breast surgery? If not, what did he/she miss?”  Boy, did I receive comments from a lot of unsatisfied survivors! This just shows me that the medical community needs to do a MUCH better job explaining the [...]

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Integrative Care – The Winning Survivorship Recipe

April 3, 2014

This is a guest post by Elizabeth Fine, LAc In between treating patients at my Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine practice in Los Angeles, I really enjoy cooking for my family.  Recently, I wanted to make a great chicken soup, which I love for all of its health benefits, and when I had finally gathered all [...]

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2014 New Year’s Resolutions

March 3, 2014

Every year, we receive 10 copies of Beyond Boobs Survivor Calendar, A Calendar to Live By. So, for our December contest, I asked for the top 3 New Year’s resolutions our members have been thinking about. Here are the top 10 responses we received. What are your top 3 New Year’s resolutions? 1.  Get Better [...]

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The Most Important Type of Support

February 5, 2014

For our October contest, I asked the Pink-Link members to describe their most important type of support. Here are some of their responses. My most important support before,  during & after treatment has always been my husband.  He never made me feel like I was fighting alone.  I wish I could do more to show [...]

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Combating Cancer While Consuming A Culinary Champion

February 5, 2014

This is a guest blog post by Sylvia and David Burnett Life can often times be pressure-filled and stressful with sickness becoming all too common in our society, although, these may be present, hope is also present too! Hope in the middle of our personal struggles and storms can be the cog which empowers us [...]

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The “New” Normal after Breast Cancer Treatment

January 7, 2014

For our August/September contest, I asked the Pink-Link members to describe their “new” normal. Before you were diagnosed, your “normal” life consisted of work, kids, husband, play, etc. But, AFTER your diagnosis, you experienced a “new normal.” Here are some of the responses we received describing a new normal.

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Feeling Sexy after Cancer Treatment

January 7, 2014

Breast Cancer treatment can take away your feelings of femininity and sexiness. For our July contest, I asked our members to describe what makes them feel sexy. Here are some of the responses. You can also check out Barbara Musser’s website for more information about regaining your sexiness after treatment.

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Handling Stress during treatment

December 6, 2013

Going through breast cancer treatment is hard and stressful! I’m so thankful that my husband was with me every step of the way! But, it was still very stressful dealing with kids, schools, grocery shopping, dinners, exercising, etc. For our July contest, Jude Callirgos donated 10 copies of her book, “Breast Left Unsaid.” She is [...]

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