I am still myself
I have never been one to join a cause. When I was diagnosed a month ago, I insisted I would never be one of those women who feel some sort of grand sisterhood with other survivors, or wave a banner at a walk. I am not about to go to any meetings to talk about my boobs. Hell, it’s only been a week since the damn thing came out, and I am tired of discussing it already.
But what I have realized is that I can say, “Here I am, this is what I look like now, this is who I am, and I am still myself.” I had a survivor reach out a hand to help me face my fears, and now I can do the same with whoever follows behind me. I am not my boob,and I am not my cancer, and neither are you. You follow me, and I’ll follow her, and together we will get through this.
“No big deal, I am used to “living with cancer” as they like to call it.”
I’m a two-time BC survivor—15 and 7 years respectively (and a cancer widow.)
My story in brief is here: http://tangocherie.blogspot.com/2009/10/pink-ribbon-month.html
Now I dance and teach tango in Buenos Aires, since 2004.
Here’s my photo to add to the Gallery.
Thanks a lot.
These are the reasons, the VERY reasons we do what we do. We wish health and happiness and a continued “cancer free” life to Cherie and all the survivors. All the best! The Boobie-Thon Team
Proud to be a survivor, as you can tell. Also of the fact I have not had reconstructive surgery. My breasts do not define me; never have and never will. -Silk
“It takes courage to risk. It takes courage to choose to LIVE. And that courage is power!”
This is the story I wrote over 15 years ago - while undergoing chemotherapy for breast cancer:
As human beings, all of us know about dying. Mortality is a part of our existence. All of us have, at some point, dealt with watching someone; a friend, a relative, a public figure, deal with death. And it’s no surprise to any of us that we can’t live forever.
In August of 1994, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. At first, learning that I have a life-threatening illness was devistating. But then I realized that I need to look - not at how to deal with dying, but with how to deal with living.
Not the day-to-day existence we call life, but the fulfillment of that life. It occurred to me that cancer isn’t necessarily a death sentence…it can be a LIFE sentence… and a challenge to live! The question became, “What am I doing with TODAY?”
How many times a day do you let a kindness go undone because you’re busy and you don’t want to risk wasting time? There’s power in kindness!
How often do you not verbalize that loving and caring thought because you don’t know how it will be taken, and you don’t want to risk sounding corny? There’s power in loving!
How often to you abdicate your opportunity to enjoy and appreciate your own life sentence because you’re focusing your attention in the past or in the future… places that exist only in our minds? There’s power in the moment!
If I look at all the mistakes I made throughout my life, each one of them indicated a time I was willing to risk.
Things might not have worked out the way I wanted them to at the time, but I DID risk… and I learned, and the lessons added to the foundation of my life.
It takes courage to risk. It takes courage to choose to LIVE. And that courage is power!
Having cancer is an ironic way to get in touch with living. But it’s been effective for me. Everyday activities; time with my children and friends, my focus on my job, and my short-term goals have become more powerful for me.
The things I was going to do “someday” suddenly have a new meaning. If they’re really significant, how can I accomplish them now? And if they are not, why waste precious time thinking about them?
I reflect on my relationships with my children. I’m now willing to risk being more honest and open than ever… not because I might be dying… but because I am certainly LIVING! I want to share with them the reality of who I am today. Not their illusion of me, or who I wish I was.
I reflect on the other relationships in my life. What are the things I tend to overlook, to my own detriment, for the sake of relationships that aren’t healthy for me? What can I do NOW to change the way I relate to those individuals?
It’s not about making anyone wrong for being who they are, or for whatever happened in the past. It’s about looking at and choosing what I want to be happening in my present. And that is incredibly empowering!
I reflect on what I’m doing with my life; the things that make me feel valued and fulfilled. I’m very lucky. I have many enriching activities. Many people don’t have so much satisfaction in their lives. They’re the
ones who postpone their dreams until… And there may never be an “until…”
I reflect on my relationship with myself. Asking for help is a skill I never developed, yet I’ve learned to do just that. Getting in touch with my feelings and needs was a challenge.
Dramatic mood swings, depression and fatigue that came from the treatments were difficult for me.
I could go from elation to psychotic bitch from hell in 10 seconds… and as quickly dissolve into tears of anguish. And I learned to accept those responses to my life.
I reflect on the dramatic impact the disease had on my relationship with my own body; the anger, the frustration, the sadness…. I felt betrayed; that my body had let me down… and I thought that perhaps somehow, I’d let my body down.
These were things I was working on. And with “working on” things came risks. And with the risks comes power!
How many risks do you NOT take advantage of? How much of your power are you wasting?
Each and every one of us has a life-threatening condition. It’s called “Being Here”. Each and every one of us is dying - because that’s the only option at the end of our existence.
Since my diagnosis, I’m more open, spontaneous and alive than I ever was before. Yes, I’ve discovered new levels of anger, frustration and depression, but that’s the other side of the same coin. And the bottom line is this:
My diagnosis made me realize that I can choose how I want to spend that coin. I can choose what I want, and how I want to spend my LIFE sentence! And that realization holds risk, and excitement, and satisfaction beyond anything I’ve experienced before.
You have the opportunity to make those choices, with or without such a diagnosis. For some, the most frightening risk of all is the risk of being happy and successful. Are you willing to risk it? What are YOU doing with today?
Sharing My Story: Serena Reagan
Am I a Cancer Survivor? Yes, I Am.
Am I a Cancer survivor? Yes. I Am.
Diagnosed with stage 2 invasive lobular breast cancer at the age of 30. I still, to this day, sit in my oncologist office, waiting to be seen. I often talk amongst other patients, listening to their struggles. Thinking of how I felt to sit in the same chair. The chemo chair. Thinking of how it felt to have the needle forced into the port on my chest. Thinking if how it felt for Beth, my chemo nurse (angel), to push the Adriamycin into my young frail body. To sit and keep my spirits up, knowing I would be in bed, detached from the world, for at least another five days. To be useless to my children, and myself.
To think back on how I felt.. All the journals, and blogs…all about me. So self-absorbed.. but at the time, that is how I felt, and damn it…I was entitled. From now on though, I realize that this is more than survivorship. It is about engagement, activism, involvement, and advocacy. I will fight until no more lives are lost. Until no more “Mommies” have to worry about seeing their daughters grow up. Until no more “Mommies” have to watch their daughters fight for their lives, as my “Mommy” did, and until no more daughters have to watch their “Mommies” suffer the way my daughter did.
To have had some time to put this all into perspective has given me a new outlook. Now, when I converse with a newly diagnosed survivor, I feel distinctly separate from them. I see them sitting, waiting for their first chemo treatment, not knowing what to expect. Hair still intact, no clue as to what is about to happen. I do not pity them, but I can reassure them. I can relate, but yet I feel no comfort in the fact that I am no longer one of them. I can give my own personal advice, and only hope that they will listen. I have, so far, won my battle, and feel like I was left here for a reason. If I can help just one woman in her fight, I have served my purpose.
My ultimate mission, and goal, is…By the time my daughter would have to be worried about this horrific disease…It will be non-existant. It will be something of the past. I can only hope, that you, my friends, will join me in this fight. PLEASE, spread the awareness, do not be afraid to tell your best friend, your sister, or your mom, to check their boobies. Cancer does NOT discriminate!!! I was diagnosed with Stage 2 Invasive Lobular Breast Cancer at age 30 , and my baby sister at age 27, with Hodgkins Lymphoma. We are both SURVIVORS.
You may need to be your own advocate. I was told “you are young, it is probably nothing, follow up in 6 months.” That was bull. YOU know your body. YOU will know if something is not right!! Do not be afraid to go with your gut. I had to fight for EVERY test I had, and I thank God every day that I did!!!
PLEASE help me in the fight against Breast Cancer! Together we can make a difference. Let’s make this something we tell our great grand children about! Something that will make them ask…What was that?...And hopefully we can answer… Nothing that you will ever have to worry about!!! Thanks for reading!!!!xoxo
Tie a Knot and HANG ON!
When you come to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on. ~Franklin D. Roosevelt
The HOPE of being a SURVIVOR wasn’t an option given to me when I
found out I had Stage IV Breast Cancer! I was told Lauren , you have
Terminal Cancer .The average life span is 1-5 years with stage IV Breast
Cancer . I was mis-diagnosed when I first found my lump. By the time I
finally was diagnosed, I had breast cancer in most of my bones at the age of
37. I have bone metastasis to my spine, collarbones, hips, neck, sternum,
ribs , pelvis and skull. My doctor believed my “lump ” was a cyst and
insisted I was TOO YOUNG for Breast Cancer. I had 2 mammograms and 1 ultra
sound , they both came back clear. My last Mammogram came back suspicious.
Knowing how bad I felt , I insisted on a BIOPSY.They found a 6 cm sized
tumor and I woke up to the words “its cancer” ! One would ask how can this
be ?Why didnt the mammogram pick up the tumor ? I have what doctors call
“DENSE “Breast Tissue..That means it’s hard to see Cancer through the
“thick” tissue. Breast MRI’s are now being used more often and will
eventually prevent this mis-diagnosis in women. Most insurance companines
are not covering Breast MRI’s for screening purposes . Hopefully this will
change soon !!!!!!
I wouldn’t accept that I couldn’t survive. I sought out several opinions
and chose to be placed in a Research study and HOPED for the best . The
Avastin chemotherapy trial is now approved for Stage IV Breast Cancer. I was
the first arm at my Cancer Center for the Avastin / Taxotere study that is
now shrinking many breast tumors in women . I still don’t have any
activity in my breast where my 6 cm tumor was. I went through 15 months of
chemotherapy. I lost my hair, my fingernails & toe nails. I had mouth sores,
and a lot of pain , it was all worth it. I have been on 6 different types of
chemotherapy in the last 2 1/2 years. I am proud to be one of the women
paving the way for other SURVIVORS life spans to be pro-longed and possibly
cured ! I will continue to be in studies as long as my body allows me. I am
currently on Oral Chemotherapy at the moment . Some old disease has recently
decided to “wake” up again. I plan on putting cancer in a coma !!!
As I write this , its been 3 years since I found my breast mass! I have
SURVIVED past that 1 year time line that was given to me. I have HOPE
everyday. I live my life to the fullest on feel good days. I continue
treatments when I have flare ups . I’ll do whatever it takes to SURVIVE
Breast Cancer, I want to live to see my children grown. I want to be a
grandmother. I love my family and children. I fight everyday to continue
living life with my husband , children and family ! I have always been a
lover of life and I treasure every day I breathe ! I am a DAUGHTER of 40
years, a WIFE of 18 years and MOTHER of 17 years. These are my YEARS and I
plan on living many more . I am a SURVIVOR living with Stage IV Breast
Cancer. I HOPE to see a CURE in my Lifetime. I will hang on to that HOPE
until I breathe my last breath .
My Message to Women is this! I urge everyone to do Breast Self Exams
monthly starting at the age of 16. Breast Cancer has no AGE limit. If you
find a lump visit your Doctor . Never forget your yearly Mammogram. If you
are told the lump is a cyst have a biopsy or drain it immediately Don’t
wait and never give up searching for answers.
When you come to the end of your rope , tie a knot and HANG ON !
Life is too Important
Life is too Important to be Taken Seriously! Oscar Wilde
We now interrupt this fairy tale with a very important announcement.
I have always lived a charmed life. Not without strife, but with an amazing resolve, a God-given ability to forget the negative, and a conviction that the universe is unfolding as it should.
What did I have to make me question that? At 31 years old, I had been married 6 years to the world’s best husband, had a successful career, I was bright and healthy despite a few health “bumps in the road”...
One warm summer night, in the throes of passion… or the beginning of passion I should say, my husband’s hands landed squarely on my breasts and he calmly and gently said “what’s this lump?”. Passion ended…
Now, I was healthy, had no risk factors, no family history and no reason to think that this “lump” was breast cancer, right? But that did not stop the screaming in my head, that feeling in my “gut”. After spending the night reassuring each other that it was perfectly routine, I went to my family doctor (also a 31 year old woman) the very next day.
I went into her office and announced with confident naivety… “I have a lump and I need a prescription for a mammogram. I want to have this looked at today.” After the longest conversation I had ever had with her, she finally stopped trying to convince me, even after she felt this lump, to wait three to six menstrual cycles and track any changes and wrote my script. Perhaps it was my threat to not leave her office or let her see any other patients until she did so? Whatever the case, I left triumphant, being a woman who is used to be able to forge my own path, create my own destiny, yadda, yadda… and I went home and started to make calls to schedule my mammogram for that day.
So, if you’ve ever tried to schedule a mammogram… layer on top of that being a 31 year old woman with no personal or family history and being told repeatedly 8 out of 10 lumps are not cancer. I finally begged a woman for an emergency appointment the following week.
My mom came with me. After all, I had accompanied her on many a mammogram. The condescending mammo tech asked “Why are you here honey. You are too young to start down this road?” I took her hand and placed it on my robe clad cleavage as we walked down the hall, oblivious to how long this road was going to be and where it would take me.
After the seventh time of being pulled in for retakes of my offending breast, I thought I would pass out. Then off to the ultrasound room, where a radiologist (medical doctor) and technician both assured my mother and me that what they were seeing was a fluid filled cyst. Nothing to worry about. IF it would made me feel better, I could have it drained, but not necessary. I knew right away that my next stop would be a surgical oncologist, so I went to get my records, only to be told by the clerk that I was going to be selfishly wasting the surgeon’s time that he could be spending with people who had cancer. Boy, do I wish she was right.
Because of the radiology report, it took me several weeks to see the surgeon and my tumor had nearly doubled in size. He wanted to do surgery that week. I pushed it back due to a conflict with my boss’s vacation schedule (ahhh, to be able to make that decision over).
One year, three surgeries, 6 chemo treatments, 37 radiation treatments later, my breast cancer experience was over, or so I thought. My husband and I sold our house, quit our jobs, and moved 1,000 miles away from friends, family and cancer to live our dream in sunny Florida.
It’s been four years since that move, and I write this with no evidence of disease and with the overwhelming knowledge that you never leave cancer behind. With each decision you make, test you take, headache you feel, friend you lose, friend you make, sunrise and sunset, cancer is with you forever.
Advocate for you. Advocate for research and never take someone else’s word on your health.
*** Jennifer ***
Strength, Courage and Confidence
You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. ~Eleanor Roosevelt
I am a breast cancer survivor. I had a bilateral mastectomy last year followed my reconstruction. I am now cancer free. A mammogram saved my life. Recently Reconstructed, Now Cancer Free Boobies.
My Name is Evening, and I am a blogger!
The human spirit is stronger than anything that can happen to it. ~C.C. Scott
Thank you for this opportunity to show the faces of survivors and to encourage others to hang on to hope and fight back…..HARD.
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Melissa Connolly, Chief Boobie Officer
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