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Breast Cancer Survivor Stories

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Metastasis is a FOUR-LETTER Word

by Patricia Ohanian Lundstrom

You’re a survivor? How long? This question continues to confuse me. I have no idea how to answer it. I usually say something like, “Well, I woke up this morning, so about five hours now.” People think this is a witty thing I say, but, in fact, it’s the closest to the truth I can get.

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Take a Hike

by Patti McCarthy

In September 2012, I was on top of life. My husband and I cel­ebrated 25 years of marriage. Our three kids were in college, all doing well. I was awarded a top honor at my job. I couldn’t have been happier, more successful, or healthier. Then on October 4, I got the call: “Patti, you have invasive breast cancer.”

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My Cancer Transformation

by Jaime Andrews

I was 33 years old when I learned I had breast cancer. Not only did I have cancer – I had aggressive, advanced cancer. This unrelenting dis­ease is diagnosed in the later stages and is referred to as metastatic, a word with Greek origins meaning change. It’s when the tumor spreads to other parts of the body. For me, it spread to my skull, spine, pelvis, and abdomen. It even fractured my ribs.

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A Buddy System for Courage

by Pamela Davis, EdD

When my oncologist suggested chemotherapy, I panicked. My perceived future played like a movie in my mind, fast-forwarding then stopping on scenes of frailty, vomiting, total loss of appetite, and incapacitation. As I began treatments, I still had visions of potential pain even though doctors and breast cancer survivors assured me that the chemo I was being prescribed wasn’t the monster I had imagined. Side effects, they explained, were often minimal, and co-therapies alleviated even severe reactions in most people.

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Embracing the Positive Side of Cancer

by Susan M. Krauss

Four years ago, I was diagnosed with triple-negative breast cancer. How vividly I remember the nega­tives: the interminable delays in getting in to see a doctor, the waiting for test results, the waiting in doctors’ offices, the waiting to feel better. Then there were the side effects from chemo: mouth sores, fatigue, diarrhea, constipation, allergic reactions. And the post-treatment period brought worries about my future: What will my life look like now? Will my can­cer recur? Where might it metastasize?

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Putting Together the Pieces

by Cynthia Cox

The waiting room in the radiation center is quite stellar, and I should know. With my chemotherapy, surgery, and hormonal treatment, I’ve been in many different waiting rooms this year. How­ever, this one is a little different from the rest.

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Lessons Learned

by Mary Dunnewold

In general, I don’t think about cancer in terms of lessons learned, because I believe cancer is just stupid and unlucky, not a golden opportunity to improve your life. Whether we’ve been diagnosed with cancer or not, all of us should live every moment to its fullest because life is, in fact, short. I believed that before I had cancer, and I think I did a good job putting it into practice.

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Something Old, Something New

by Holly J. Bertone

Over the course of 48 hours, eight words changed my life forever. The first four came during a phone call from my doctor. The latter came two days later when my boyfriend, Carter, proposed marriage. Those eight words, “You have breast cancer,” and “Will you marry me?” were just too much to process together.

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