Breast Cancer Stories
Our Breast Cancer Awareness Month Essay Contest is complete. Thank you to everyone who participated! We are proud to announce…
The winner is Andrea Morrow Duncan of Vancouver, BC! Andrea received an iPad Air and SeniorAdvisor.com made a $100 donation to Susan G. Komen in her honor. Read her essay below.
“My mother was diagnosed with breast cancer when she was 45 years old – I was only 13 years old at the time and my sister was 17. I couldn’t quite comprehend what was really going on but I remember feeling like my world began spinning out of control. I went from a straight A student to barely passing all of my classes. I skipped so many classes and slept in all the time. I started seeing the school counsellor who told me that I needed to prepare for my mothers death. I still don’t know how you can prepare for anyone’s death – let alone your mothers death – and at the tender age of 13. My mother was a single mother for as long as I could remember (she divorced my father when I was 2). I was a momma’s girl through and through. The thought of a life without her made me spin into panic attacks and I refused to believe it could be true. I couldn’t handle the thought of having to live with my father, his wife & their two children…..they had never made an effort to be in our lives so it would be like living with strangers. My mother began treatment and I watched her go through countless rounds or chemo, radiation and any new drugs they came up with. It broke my tiny heart to see her in so much pain and suffering, but I just wasn’t able to let her go.
My amazing mother was the strongest woman I have ever met. She survived 9 years with this awful disease after only being given a year and a half to live. When she finally passed away, on Christmas Day 2006, she was at peace knowing that she had finished raising her girls. I was 22 and living with my boyfriend, and my sister was engaged. She died in her sleep, early Christmas morning, while my sister and I slept on the floor next to her hospital bed. When the nurse woke us up to let us know she was gone we crawled into bed with her for one last cuddle and a single tear ran down her cheek.
It has been almost 10 years now and I still miss her every second. The hold in my heart is still there but it doesn’t ache all day long anymore. I had my first baby this past March, a baby girl, and it’s been the best gift I could have ever received. It hurts to know that my mother will never be able to hold her grandbaby, however I know she is our guardian angel now and will always protect us.
I do the Run for the Cure every October and raise money for breast cancer research, and this year was incredibly special because I got to do it with my baby girl.”
Thank you for sharing your story, Andrea!
We’ve included the other essays below – thank you to everyone for sharing your experiences with us!
“My name is Debra Cooper I have been through a lot my daughter had brain cancer and It left her blind . Two surgeries and I took care of her it was great brought us closer but never wanted it that way. It was ruff on her she lived three and a half years and she died. I was devastated she left two kids behind. I was diagnosed with breast cancer in April 2015 it was a shock it is aggressive I just finish my last chemotherapy have to have MRI soon and six weeks everyday radiation it has been a hard six years in my life but friends family and people have got me through the doctors most of all God so thankful to still be here.” – Debra Cooper
“My brother was diagnosed in April 2015 with abdominal carcinoma I went to be with him after radiation and surgery for several weeks. He improved so after Afew weeks I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I got thru my radiation. We called each other for support and I am cancer free. Now he is doing chemo. We talk and support each other . We are a TEAM. Brother and sister facing the future as we did as young children” – Margaret Woodhams
“Hi, my name is Dawn Jones.
I want to share my experience having had breast cancer twice.
My inspiration is my daughter, All the women, and all those fighting breast cancer.
I was diagnosed in 1995 at the age of 48, with incitu- carcinoma and it was in my lymph system. I went through chemo and had a mastectomy.
I didn’t have any family history and because I didn’t fit a profile, that was my inspiration to be a voice for women.
I became a mentor for those newly diagnosed with Breast Cancer in a program called PROJECT H.E.R. (Help Enlightenment Resources). I was paired with those that had the same type of cancer and same type of treatment. Each and every one of these women were my inspiration.
I felt their pain, I felt their strength, I felt their powerlessness and I felt their courage.
Ten years later I was diagnosed with HER 2 positive breast cancer in the other breast and had a mastectomy and Chemo again.
Once I healed I continued with PROJECT H.E.R. (Help Enlightenment Resources.)
I have so many beautiful stories about so many beautiful women who kept me inspired and have encouraged me to continue to be a voice about Breast Cancer.
I want All women to know that we must be vigilant, and that we can beat this and most of all “we can survive.”
Thank you, and sincerely, dawn?” – Dawn Jones
“About 10 years ago my postmaster Carol K, at Box Elder S D was diagnosed with breast cancer. She went to her radiation on her lunch hour and came back to work to finish the day.I so admired her for her courage and positive attitude. The last few years I have been making soy candles.I make a special pink candle for breast cancer awareness and donate $1.00 from each sale. I also donate 6 candles to Rapid City Regional Hospital Mammography Unit to be given away in a drawing for the ladies who have a mammogram in October Breast Cancer Awareness month.” – Diane Bryan
“My name is Brooke,
On June 12th 2015 I was 30 years old and diagnosed with non invasive and invasive breast cancer. I’m a young married mother of three beautifully, wonderfully, awesome kids. But on that day my mind was just trying to understand how I’m 30 with cancer and how my life was about to change. I had a double mastectomy two weeks after my diagnosis and started chemo soon after. In two weeks I’m celebrating my last chemo treatment and I can’t wait! But to me making it through this hard time (which isn’t over yet and I will go on to have radiation) has to be accredited to so many wonderful hero’s around me! My eyes have been opened to the pure kindness of others. Our family has received monetary donations to help with medical bills, we’ve been served with dinners, people have given and used their time and talents to serve us, people have helped with our kids. My mom stays with me to help me with my kids when my husband works, my sweet grandma does our laundry every Thursday, loving phone calls and well wishing texts. The list goes on and on and all this has helped lift my heart and make going through this process much easier!” – Brooke C.
“Thirty eight years ago I was watching TV & for no reason I thought I would check my breast because I saw it on the show. I did find a lump but was not that concerned because no one in my family ever had cancer. I made an appointment with my doctor and after a thorough exam he sent me to a surgeon. I was 37 years old at this time.
Having a lumpectomy was not really an option at that time so I had a modified radical mastectomy. My children were so young then so before I went into the hospital I bought them a Dusty & Nugget horse & doll to ease my being away.
My husband was a rock who was there for me every step of the way as was my family & children. My chest looked horrendous & the lopsidedness was very hard. I wasn’t told much about reconstruction so for many years I wore a prosthesis.
I didn’t need chemo but was never told about lymphedema. My arm swelled quite bad. I had my breast reconstructed 15 years ago but wish I had them both removed because they are so uneven but I shouldn’t complain because the cancer didn’t come back.
I am now 76 years old and looking back I consider myself very lucky. I am very happy for women today because they can have a lumpectomy & we are so close to a cure.
I recently purchased the Dusty & Nugget set for my girls as a surprise & they remembered that time; not with sadness but the joy of Mom coming home so everything was okay. My experience was that when people called to see how you are, just say everything is good and as hard as it is sometimes just smile; it really helps. May a cure be right around the corner❤️” – Jacqueline Paulison
“I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2008. I was doing a self exam and found a small lump behind my left nipple. I was immediately convinced that it was cancer as both of my grandmothers had breast cancer and I always suspected it was in my future. It was the weekend and it seemed like it took forever for Monday to come so I could call my doctor and make an appointment.
After having examined me, he sent me for a mammogram. When I went for the mammogram, they were unable to see the tumor and the doctor had trouble feeling it, too. They had to do a sonogram, and were finally able to find it. After doing two biopsies, as it was small and hard to find, it was time to wait for the results.
After waiting the amount of time I was told, I finally called my doctor from work one day to see if he had gotten the results. Over the phone, he told me the words that I had been dreading…I had breast cancer.
The date was September 30th and I remember it well because I walked into the grocery store that night and the display aisles were filled with pink products for October’s Breast Cancer Awareness campaign that began the next day. I was already aware…I couldn’t have been more aware.
In November, I had my surgery…a partial mastectomy, where the surgeon tried to spare my nipple. It turns out that the cancer was stage 2, not 1 as they suspected. A week later, I had my second surgery because the margins weren’t clear and she took my nipple, along with more tissue.
The following months were a blur of doctor’s appointments, drains, bandages, prayers, cards, and more doctor’s appointments, tears, and eventually chemotherapy. To make matters worse, I was allergic to the chemo and broke out in hives anywhere I touched something. I had to take Zirtec 24/7 to relieve the constant itching. And then the hair started falling out. I had no idea how much that was going to bother me…kinda made everything real. I became aware of how potent the medicines were that I had to take to stay alive…and had to face the body image issues one has after losing a breast and all her hair!
The next spring I followed the chemo with radiation treatments every day. I would leave work, drive twenty minutes to radiation, stay for ten minutes, or so, and drive back to work.
It’s been seven years since I found the lump…I always had faith that God would get me through this. I have had reconstruction and my hair grew back, curlier than it was before. I suffered through typical aches and pains of the drugs I have had to take and I suffer from neuropathy daily as a result of the chemo but I am alive and I am very grateful!
I am grateful for the people who prayed for me, took me to appointments, waited on me, and listened to me complain when I hurt…or itched! My sister took notes at appointments and my husband was by my side through every part of the adventure. And I am extremely thankful that God allowed me to find the lump and put the people in my life that I needed to get through this ordeal! I am a stronger person having had the experience…more importantly, I am a more grateful person.” – Jane Gurr
“It was Mother’s Day 2002 when Me, my sister and brother took my mom with our kids to Disneyworld. We were having such a wonderful time when my mom started to get bad pains in her back. We chose to get her a wheelchair for the rest of the trip thinking she had pulled a disc. She always had her Mammo every year. Well, when we got back home she was diagnosed with stage 4 matistatic breast cancer that had traveled to her bones. Nine months later she was gone. During that time she suffered horrifically the pain was just too much to bare. She never once complained, she always had a smile on her face. She was a very special women, her life was hard growing up. Her father died when she was seven. Her childhood was not easy. She met my dad and they got married when she was 18 they were married for 51 years and theirs was a true love story. She is gone almost 14 years. She was the most loving mother anyone could ever wish for. I was numb for about two years after she died. My heart was broken. It’s only now I can think of her and smile at the beautiful memories we shared. The impact she made on our children is just amazing. She was taken from us much to soon. I am now involved with several fund raising efforts to stop this horrific disease. Ironically,one of my best friends Stacy Brennan of ‘Stacy’s Warriors ‘ now has stage 4 breast cancer and she is fighting every day. With research and awareness treatment has come so far. If they had back then what they have now maybe my mom could have lived a little longer in a lot less pain. As horrible as this disease still is we have had so many wonderful breakthroughs. I will never give up trying to be instrumental in helping end breast cancer. There are times I can’t breath when I think of what this disease did to my family by taking my mom away from us. Now we are concentrating on keeping Stacy safe. I am a grandmother of a beautiful little girl who I love more than anything in this world and I know my mother is with us every step of the way. I am 58 years old and get checked all the time. Mammos, MRIs,and breast exams. I don’t want anyone to suffer this loss so we keep on fighting.” – Maria Colangelo
“I an a lady 79 year old lady and have been effected by breast cancer. I went for my regular mammogram and found I had stage one breast cancer. I had a lumpectomy and 15 radiation treatments at this time I am doing well. I would recommend that women get their mammograms even if they think they are past the age for getting them.” – Golda Pack
“My Mother, My Hero:
It was an exciting year when I was halfway through grade eleven. I was excelling academically, playing baseball and hockey, while leading student clubs. Shortly after Christmas, my mother brought me into our dining room, where we shared many laughs and truly felt thankfulness for each other. She told me she was going through an ordeal. Between tears, she whispered she had been diagnosed with late stage breast cancer.
My wonderful mother has inspired me by being incredibly kind, generous, and positive. Whether it was friends or family, she was always taking the time to help others. She has always supported my aspirations, while looking after my current and future needs. When her brother was diagnosed with Leukemia and needed stem cells, she flew across the country and provided the life saving vile. I knew what cancer was, but I never had someone so close living with it. My naivety thought it only happened to others, not in a healthy family like mine. My mother worked in a hospital, writing these reports frequently. She knew her stage, chances, and how bad her situation looked. Knowing my thoughts, I cannot imagine what was going through her mind.
She was not a teacher, but she taught me critical life lessons, primarily by knowing what to teach and what I need to learn on our own. I joined her side for any appointment I could. The reality of the situation soon struck me to my knees crying. I was by her side when she first slipped into a hospital gown, had countless needles pierce into her veins, and underwent chemotherapy. I pushed her wheelchair into the surgery room, knowing the body parts which helped provide me life were threatening to take hers. She was isolated to prevent contamination and informed to call loves ones as her chances of seeing tomorrow were minimal. It was a conversation that still haunts me. Fortunately, she fought through.
It was tense every time a checkup happened. It was filled with rushing relief or crushing sorrow. She inspired me to brace for struggles, never give up, and always be thankful for loved ones. My mother received the diagnosis, but my entire family felt its impact. It changed our priorities, lifestyle, and altered our perception of life. When I get discouraged thinking life has thrown me a curveball, I think of my mother. I realize then how miniscule that issue was.
She was not a doctor, but she was always there when someone was ill. Even when she had trouble standing and walking, she would be the first to offer help to someone else. She is a mother, sister, aunt, wife, friend, and volunteer while being a passionate member of numerous organizations. She has always been there to listen, provide advice, and play a game. She has inspired me cherish every moment of life and help improve other lives. For a mother to give everything she has and believe in me completely, I am truly blessed.” – James L.