Warrior Stories

STORIES FROM SURVIVORS: VOLUME I

The following story was told in a letter to us by Denise, a lovely woman in Alabama. Denise received Wink as a gift from the Breast Cancer Charities of America, one of the three partners we work with to help connect the donations from October sales to survivors.
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In February of this year, I was suffering from a literal pain in my butt.  
It had been going on since November when my brother had died.  I thought I had pulled a muscle in my hip.
I was finally sent for an MRI, and the same week I went to my OB/GYN for my annual exam and mammogram.  On Friday, I got a call saying I had to see a neurosurgeon for my back immediately and was scheduled for the following Monday. He said I needed immediate back surgery: I had a large mass on my spinal cord. I scheduled surgery for the following day.
I got back from that appointment and the phone rang; It was my OB/GYN. 
They had seen something on my mammogram and needed me to come in as soon as possible. After I explained I was scheduled for surgery for the following day, they told me this could not wait and to come right in.  
On the following Tuesday, I had my back surgery. It was a four hour surgery and by mistake I was sent home the same night.  

Wednesday, I got a call from my OB/GYN and was told I needed a biopsy on both breasts. I scheduled it for March 18th–my birthday.  

A few days after my biopsy, I got the preliminary results. They informed me [that] the initial results showed no cancer, but I still had to wait for the rest of the results. I immediately burst into tears. Deep in my heart, I knew that I had breast cancer. I was so relieved that they had found it this early.
 
On Monday afternoon, my phone rang.  It was my surgeon. He let me know that I did have breast cancer, and I would need immediate surgery.
I had a partial mastectomy and removal of one lymph node which was negative for cancer. I was stage one and very lucky it was caught so early!
I went through 32 treatments of radiation. I was then scheduled to have my ovaries removed in July. I ended up having four different surgeries in less than five months.
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I am still trying to recover from the back surgery. My life is   filled with pain every day. I am going through physical    therapy, trying to recover.  
  I just went to the OB/GYN for my six month follow up. On   my mammogram, they discovered a lump. They think it is   a cyst, but I am waiting to see my surgeon to see what he   wants to do about it. It is located in the breast that did not   have breast cancer.
I was told with medication for the next ten years, I have little chance of my breast cancer returning. 
I had the BRCCA test done which was negative.  I have no family history of breast cancer in my family.  I have been a supporter of  breast cancer research for many, many years. My former mother-in-law, who I loved with all my heart, had breast cancer as did her sister who passed away from it. I taught medical assisting for over eight years, and I always made a point of creating a team at the college I worked at to participate in the Breast Cancer walk to raise money for charity. I made sure my students knew how important self breast exams and annual mammograms were for breast cancer detection.
I, myself, if I hadn’t had the mammogram would never have found it. My breast cancer did not present as a lump and could not be felt since it was so deep. I never thought I would have breast cancer! 
Thank you for your support of the breast cancer charities! It is my hope and prayer that in my lifetime, there will be a cure! Thank you again, from the bottom of my heart!
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Denise’s story shows us that breast cancer can happen to anyone, at any time, regardless of family history.
Annual mammograms are extremely important, as a mammogram can detect breast cancer early–even when self-checking cannot. The 5-year survival rate for women who found their breast cancer in stage 1 or 0 is 90%.
Take this story as a reminder to schedule your annual appointment today. You can schedule a mammogram with your primary care provider, or through one of these a free or low-cost facilities. Proactivity is key – don’t take a chance on your health.
Be well,
xoxo,
Megan

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